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Ducks, Habitat and Hunters

Maintaining our waterfowling tradition is vital to the future of wetlands and waterfowl
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Finding common ground in waterfowl management

Over time, managers of waterfowl habitat and harvests have become increasingly specialized. The science in support of waterfowl management and associated technical skills has improved as fast as the technology that supports them. State-of-the-art statistical analysis and modeling have become the basis for incorporating biological knowledge into a rigorous process of regulations setting. Habitat managers, working in specific landscapes, have become experts in the ecological nuances of soils, hydrology, and plant and animal responses to their management efforts.

Along with this increased rigor and specialization, however, has come the potential for a lack of coherence in waterfowl management. It's not unlike how prairie duck hunters have different skills and capabilities than their southern counterparts who hunt flooded timber. Despite their specialization, both are completely dependent on the same resource at different times of the year in different habitats. Given a chance to share their hunting experiences, the two would soon find common ground in their passion for waterfowl, wetlands, and hunting traditions.

Similarly, waterfowl managers are finding that they need to continue to focus on the common ground shared across specialties in conserving waterfowl, habitat, and hunting. The challenge is to account for each of these three elements as policies and management plans are implemented. Failure to explicitly acknowledge each will omit key parts of the waterfowl conservation equation.

While great challenges certainly lie ahead for waterfowl conservationists, our history is one of strength. Passionate supporters, dedicated managers, and scientifically driven policies have been the rule. This undoubtedly will continue as we advance waterfowl conservation in the decades ahead.

Dale Humburg is chief biologist at DU national headquarters in Memphis.


DU supports hunting heritage

Partnering with state and federal conservation agencies and the shooting sports industry, Ducks Unlimited has engaged with the conservation community to actively promote North America's hunting heritage and address declining hunting participation and recruitment. Some recent examples include:

  • DU collaborated with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Flyway Councils to conduct the 2005 National Duck Hunter Survey, convene a national workshop on the future of waterfowl management, and develop a waterfowl hunter recruitment and retention strategy.
  • DU staff and volunteers have provided technical input and authored portions of a report that led to a 10-year plan entitled Facilitation of Hunting Heritage and Wildlife Conservation.
  • DU staff will participate in the upcoming North American Duck Symposium and Flyway Council meetings where waterfowl hunting participation and recruitment issues will be discussed.
  • DU is represented on the Sporting Conservation Council, which advises the U.S. Secretary of the Interior about wildlife conservation efforts that affect the hunting community.
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