With this year's state grant program contribution of $275,000, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) reached the $5 million mark for donations to waterfowl breeding grounds in Canada. With the support of MDC during the past five years, Ducks Unlimited has conserved, enhanced, and restored 235,059 acres of prime breeding habitat and positively influenced an additional 1.2 million acres.
"The MDC partnership with Ducks Unlimited is one of the strongest and most effective in the nation," said Mark Flaspohler, DU manager of conservation programs for Missouri. "Their commitment to the state grants program is just one manifestation of that partnership."
The state grants program represents a unique international funding partnership that preserves critical waterfowl habitat in the Prairie Pothole Region of Canada, while working toward achieving the goals of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. Contributions from the states are matched by DU Inc. and DU Canada, as well as the North American Wetlands Conservation Act.
"It is the committed support of partners like the Missouri Department of Conservation that makes waterfowl conservation and the North American Waterfowl Management Plan a success," DU CEO Dale Hall said.
DU Canada uses a combination of strategically targeted direct programs, agricultural extension, and public policy efforts to advance its conservation goals. Direct habitat programs such as land acquisition and conservation easements help secure the remaining habitat base and provide restoration opportunities. Agricultural extension programs focus on adding nesting cover and improving wetland conditions, while the promotion of waterfowl-friendly agricultural practices provides positive economic benefits to producers.
"MDC's investment in Canadian waterfowl habitat yields direct, tangible returns for Missourians," said MDC Director Bob Ziehmer. "Leveraging our contribution and money from other states four-to-one lets us put more than $2 million into protecting critical nesting habitat that sends millions of ducks winging down the Mississippi Flyway to Missouri and beyond each fall."
Waterfowl band recovery data has established a clear link between waterfowl produced and banded in Canada's PPR and subsequently harvested in the Mississippi Flyway. Priority habitats in Manitoba stand out as a primary Canadian source of ducks harvested in Missouri.
"The conservation of this vital habitat will ensure that Missouri hunters experience strong waterfowl flights from Manitoba for many years to come," said Missouri DU state chairman Tom Shryock.