Director's Message: October 2010
By the time you read this message, waterfowl will be heading toward their favorite wintering spots. This year’s survey numbers are encouraging, as most waterfowl species were at or above their long-term averages. Habitat drives duck populations, and in 2010 breeding waterfowl returned to generally good wetland conditions across much of the prairie Duck Factory. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports that this year’s estimate of 6.7 million May ponds—the unit of measure for wetland abundance on the prairies—was 34 percent above the long-term average. The total breeding duck estimate in the traditional survey area was almost 41 million birds—equivalent to the 2009 estimate and the seventh-largest since surveys began in 1955.
As you gear up for the fall season, keep in mind that weather and habitat strongly influence the timing and distribution of migrating waterfowl, as well as how many birds we see from our blinds. So, hunters who measure their success by numbers in the bag may not all have the same level of success.
I know you joined the Southern Region team with a deep sigh of relief when the flow of oil into the Gulf ended. While we certainly seem to have avoided the worst-case disaster scenario of hurricanes driving oil deep into the interior marshes important to waterfowl, the lasting impacts of the oil and dispersants will be unknown for years to come. See the special Coastal Habitat Focus section in this newsletter for DU’s action plan!
During FY10, we achieved our habitat budget and financial targets. FY11 is shaping up to be an excellent year with revenue projections already several million dollars ahead of budget. Staff are already hard at work to conserve more than 31,000 acres, and our habitat programs are gaining momentum as we seek new opportunities in our priority habitats along the coast and in the heart of the Mississippi River delta.
As I look to the upcoming hunting season each year, I am thankful for the foresight of hunters in the early 1930’s that has provided the sights and sounds of waterfowl we have today. We must also be willing to take action today to ensure those who follow will enjoy bountiful fall flights forever.
Promote hunting by taking a youth on his/her first duck hunt this season!