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DU wetlands work restores black bear habitat

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Wetlands Reserve Program helps ducks and other wildlife

MEMPHIS, Tenn., May 21, 2007 - A mother black bear gave birth to twin cubs in Mississippi earlier this year on land restored by Ducks Unlimited through the Wetlands Reserve Program. It was the first time in more than 30 years that black bear cubs were born in Mississippi.

Ducks Unlimited reforested the land in 1998. The birth of these cubs marks the first documented black bear reproduction in the Mississippi Delta since the mid-1970s. Bear biologist Brad Young of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Shauna Ginger discovered the cubs in early March.

The mother bear is a healthy 220 pounds. She is equipped with a satellite global positioning collar, and Young has tracked her since July 2005. Several bears throughout Mississippi also have the satellite collars. Data from the collars shows these bears are extensively using lands restored through the Wetlands Reserve Program.

The use of these restored lands by black bears and the selection of the den site illustrate the importance and value of the Wetlands Reserve Program to wildlife. More than 900 species of wildlife depend on wetlands as a place to live during some time in their lifetime.

Unfortunately, the Wetlands Reserve Program could be lost if Congress doesn’t renew and refund it in the new federal farm bill. The highly successful farm bill conservation program is responsible for almost 2 million acres of restored wetlands habitat throughout the U.S. These acres provide critical winter and migration habitat for waterfowl.

The Wetlands Reserve Program is one of DU’s highest priorities for the 2007 federal farm bill. DU seeks at least 250,000 acres of new enrollments annually for the Wetlands Reserve Program and a nationwide cap of more than 3.5 million total acres enrolled in the program.

The Wetlands Reserve Program benefits many wildlife species including waterfowl, other waterbirds, reptiles, amphibians, migratory songbirds and the endangered Louisiana black bear. Through the Wetlands Reserve Program and other farm bill conservation programs, DU helps farmers and ranchers “farm the best and conserve the rest.”

Your support is needed to ensure federal funding for farm bill conservation programs. Visit www.ducks.org/farmbill to find out how you can help.

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