DU Announces New Chief Conservation Officer

Ducks Unlimited CEO Dale Hall announced today that Paul Schmidt, Assistant Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for Migratory Birds, has accepted the position of Chief Conservation Officer for Ducks Unlimited Inc. Schmidt will succeed Alan Wentz, who retired at the end of September.

As Chief Conservation Officer, Schmidt will lead Ducks Unlimited’s national and international conservation programs and serve as a member of the senior executive team. His responsibilities will include supervision of all of DU’s public policy, science, and habitat conservation operations, including four regional offices focused on conservation delivery and a governmental affairs office in Washington, D.C., dedicated to public policy work.

Schmidt is a career employee with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with more than 30 years of service. For the past six years, he has been the agency’s director of all activities related to the management of migratory birds. In his current duties, Schmidt oversees and directs:

  • the federal duck stamp program, including the duck stamp art competition;

  • all scientific activities associated with the nesting surveys, including all scientists, pilot-biologists, and regulatory framework staff;

  • the USFWS Regulatory Committee, which has responsibility for recommending waterfowl bag limits each year to the Director of the Service;

  • all current science associated with migratory bird management, ensuring that research findings are collated and considered in management decisions;

  • all migratory bird permit activities under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Act;

  • all activities on behalf of the USFWS for the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, including the NAWCA Council and staff to the NAWCA Commission, and presentation of all grant proposals;

  • all activities related to other, non-harvested bird populations through the North American Bird Conservation Initiative and the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act; and

  • funding and management of all Joint Ventures under the NAWCA.

“Paul Schmidt will bring innovative leadership to Ducks Unlimited’s conservation programs, as well as important perspectives on the challenges wetlands and waterfowl conservation will face in the future,” Hall said. “Paul will inherit a tremendous staff of conservation professionals in DU that will continue to provide strong leadership. The addition of Paul Schmidt to our team will position DU for great accomplishments as we move forward.”

“I am honored and privileged to receive this appointment to one of the nation’s premier conservation organizations and look forward to joining DU’s team of dedicated staff and volunteers,” Schmidt said. “Wetlands conservation in North America faces significant challenges in the coming years, and I am committed to working with DU’s conservation professionals to help deliver solutions that ensure a bright future for our continent’s waterfowl and our hunting heritage.”