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2006 Virginia State Migratory Waterfowl Conservation Stamp Featuring American Black Duck Unveiled at Virginia Ducks Unlimited State Convention
Ducks Unlimited Works to Boost the American Black Duck Population along the Atlantic Coast
VA – May 16, 2006 - Virginia artist Tim Donovan’s “Shallow Waters,” was recently selected as the 2006 Virginia Migratory Waterfowl Conservation Stamp Art by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VA DGIF). Mr. Donovan was recognized at the Virginia Ducks Unlimited (DU) State Convention held in Charlottesville where his print was unveiled. The judging panel was made up of representatives from VA DGIF, the volunteer Virginia chapter of Ducks Unlimited, the Virginia Waterfowlers Association, and Waterfowl USA.
In 2000, Virginia Ducks Unlimited volunteers obtained a license from the VA DGIF and began publishing and marketing all facets of the Virginia Duck Stamp Program. The majority of proceeds from the sale of these products will continue to be used to help fund projects that will enhance waterfowl use in Virginia. Last year a total of 18, 879 Migratory Waterfowl conservation privileges were sold generating $169,911. The monies generated from all sales of the Virginia Migratory Waterfowl Conservation Stamp will be placed in the VA DGIF’s Game Protection Fund and are accounted for under a separate fund designated as the Virginia Migratory Waterfowl Conservation Stamp Fund (the Stamp Fund) and will be used to protect, preserve, restore, enhance and develop waterfowl habitat in Virginia.
“Shallow Waters” depicts a pair of American black ducks, which have been revered by sportsman for many decades in Virginia. Once the number one duck in a hunter’s bag, American black duck populations have declined in recent years, by as much as 60 percent on the wintering grounds. Virginia now winters only 15 percent of the black duck population in Chesapeake Bay and trends suggest a continual decline in the future.
Wintering black ducks face several challenges during the fall, spring and winter. Vital to their survival, they must find enough habitat to secure food resources and provide refuge from disturbance. Black ducks strongly favor healthy tidal salt marsh and freshwater habitats along the coastal plain and eastern shore of the state. In Virginia, where development pressure along coastal areas continues to accelerate, finding quality wintering habitat to meet those needs can be difficult. Very few pristine salt marshes remain intact and freshwater habitat continues to be lost along the Atlantic Flyway.
So how do we turn this trend around? In order to answer that question, several important pieces of data must first be obtained in order to deliver the right type and amount of habitat for wintering black ducks. Therefore, Ducks Unlimited is currently raising funds to begin a research project and a joint habitat conservation program that will fill those information gaps and provide more efficient and effective wetland projects for wintering black ducks and other waterfowl in Virginia. As a science-based wetland conservation organization, projects such as these aid in our strategic planning process of delivering habitat with the greatest conservation impact.
Ducks Unlimited and its partners will determine what type and how many acres of coastal habitat are required to support population goals for wintering and spring migrating black ducks. By better understanding food resource use and depletion over the winter and where black ducks spend their time, we can determine how much and what type of habitat is needed to support a larger wintering population to attain the population goals for the lower Chesapeake Bay. Results from this research will be combined with results from two similar studies to allow DU to develop and refine habitat conservation programs to support wintering and spring migrating birds in Virginia and along the Atlantic Coast.
Ducks Unlimited was the first organization to develop a black duck research and management program in the 1940’s and has remained engaged in black duck issues ever since. If fully funded, the Virginia wintering study and associated habitat work would be one step closer to restoring the black duck’s pre-eminent reputation as the king of waterfowl in Virginia.
If you are interested in more on information on helping support Ducks Unlimited’s black duck research and the habitat component, please contact Grace Bottitta or Phil Poux at (410) 224-6620.
With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands - nature’s most productive ecosystem - and continues to lose more than 80,000 wetland acres each year.