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A Great Year

Insights from Ducks Unlimited CEO Dale Hall
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  • Dale Hall, Chief Executive Officer, Ducks Unlimited
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In my last column we talked about the prospects of yet another phenomenal waterfowl season, based on the record 2012 count of 48.6 million breeding ducks in the traditionally surveyed area. This fall, we may have had 120 million to 160 million birds migrating down the flyways. As I write this in late November, surveys of migratory waterfowl on their wintering grounds have begun and mallard counts in some states are as much as three times higher than their historical average. 

These statistics are hard to grasp until one gets out in the marsh and sees the sheer numbers of ducks and geese supported by the efforts of hunter-conservationists. What a sight to behold! I have had the chance to hunt quite a bit already this season and have many more hunts planned for this truly spectacular year. If there’s enough water and food available for the ducks in your area, you might want to take your camera to the blind to record some sights you won’t often see. We are observing the abundant fruits of our labor—huge flights of ducks that we are happy to let fly, taking only the few we need to fulfill the bond between steward and the birds we cherish. 

Ducks Unlimited has also had a phenomenal year in fundraising and conservation. Every target that we set for ourselves was either met or exceeded. This speaks volumes about our Team DU approach of cooperation between members, volunteers, and staff. Together, nothing is impossible. Congratulations, Team DU!

We still have ample challenges ahead of us and much work left to do. Important conservation legislation that provides landowners with the support they need to be able to conserve the habitat waterfowl need is in jeopardy. In the post-election, "lame duck" session of Congress, Ducks Unlimited is actively supporting the passage of the Sportsmen’s Act, which encompasses well over a dozen different bills important to conservation. Among these provisions are the reauthorization of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, an increase in the cost of the federal duck stamp from $15 to $25, and several other actions necessary to protect waterfowl and our hunting heritage. All of us who care about natural resources likewise understand the importance of CRP, WRP, Sodsaver, and other vital conservation provisions in the Farm Bill, and will therefore continue to urge this legislation’s passage. 

Conservation has reached another important juncture that could result in either significant harm or significant good for the natural resources we hold so dear. Non-hunters who love wildlife need to become vocal in their support of hunters and all the conservation efforts hunters have supported for more than 100 years. I believe the day will come—and will come soon—when non-hunting members of society will join us and become active and vocal in the passage of important laws such as the Sportsmen’s Act and the Farm Bill. They will do so because they understand what it takes to safeguard these precious resources, and they realize that hunters have always been in the forefront of the conservation movement and are never going to give up. 

This unyielding belief that we will succeed is the very reason that we have the largest numbers of migratory waterfowl ever recorded. Ducks Unlimited has been there from the beginning, and we are not going away!

Dale Hall, 
Chief Executive Officer
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