By Scott C. Yaich, Ph.D.
Ducks Unlimited stands alone among conservation organizations in its mission to provide habitat for waterfowl throughout their continental range. When the best science available in 1937 indicated that most waterfowl were produced in Canada and that conserving waterfowl breeding habitat there was the most urgent need, Ducks Unlimited's founders made a commitment to focus their work in Canada. A year later, Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) began putting conservation projects on the ground using revenue raised by DU Inc. in the United States.
Waterfowl science grew dramatically over the following decades, and conservationists began to recognize the importance of Mexico's wetlands to many waterfowl species. Winter surveys have recorded almost all of North America's common ducks and geese in Mexico. Some habitats, however, are vital for certain species. For example, 80 percent of all redheads winter along the Gulf Coast, and of those birds, the majority depend on Mexico's portion of the Laguna Madre for wintering habitat. About 85 percent of North America's Pacific brant, which breed along the northern fringe of this continent, winter in shallow bays along the coast of the Baja Peninsula, where they feed on an abundance of eelgrass. Almost all of this continent's blue-winged and cinnamon teal migrate through Mexico, and high proportions of other popular game species such as northern pintails and white-fronted geese also migrate into Mexico each winter.
As DUMAC Chairman of the Board John Tomke recently said, "Mexico's wetlands provide crucial wintering habitat for several species of waterfowl, and mangrove marshes are one of the world's most threatened ecosystems. That's why DUMAC's work is so very important."
Escape to Mexico for DUMAC's 40th Anniversary Celebration Ducks Unlimited supporters from across North America are invited to a special 40th Anniversary celebration on February 6−9, 2014, at the Occidental Grand Xcaret in Quintana Roo just south of Cancun. Festivities will begin with a reception on Thursday evening and culminate in a special anniversary banquet Saturday evening. The 40th anniversary celebration banquet will kick off DUMAC's role in our next continental conservation campaign. Funds raised at the banquet will be leveraged many times to expand DUMAC's efforts to conserve threatened mangrove wetlands and provide professional training and environmental education to further wetlands and waterfowl conservation throughout Mexico and beyond. Participants will have the opportunity to attend DUMAC's winter board meeting, fish the flats for a variety of saltwater species (all equipment provided), visit spectacular Mayan ruins in the vicinity, hear a special presentation about DUMAC's conservation work throughout Mexico, and just relax and enjoy the tropical sunshine for a few days. For more information, contact Dana Barton by phone at 901-758-3858 or by email at email@example.com.