Conservation FAQs

How does DU compare to other conservation groups?

Answer: DU is the world's largest private, nonprofit waterfowl and wetlands conservation organization. By any measure, DU is one of the largest conservation/environmental groups in the world, with more than 1 million supporters in the United States, Canada and Mexico. DU affiliates in Canada and Mexico are the largest private, nonprofit conservation organizations in their respective countries. Other DU affiliates are located in Australia, New Zealand and Europe.

Since its inception in 1937, DU has conserved more than 14 million acres of waterfowl habitat throughout North America. DU supporters have raised nearly $3.5 billion for conservation since 1937. No other conservation or environmental group can match DU's accomplishments on behalf of waterfowl, wetlands and related habitats.

Is DU making a difference with its conservation work?

Answer: Yes, DU's work has contributed tremendously to the conservation and management of waterfowl in North America. DU's habitat work has provided more than 14 million acres of valuable nesting, brood-rearing, staging, migration and wintering habitat. Scientific evaluations of DU projects have proven that this habitat has increased the annual production of waterfowl and provided valuable resources throughout the year that increase survival and reproductive potential.

All but a few species of prairie-nesting ducks have made strong recoveries in the late 1990's. In addition, most populations of geese have increased during this same period. The primary reason for the decline of ducks such as mallards, pintails, scaup, blue-winged teal and wigeons in the 1980s was drought and the loss and degradation of wetlands and adjacent upland nesting cover in the Prairie Pothole Region. Unfortunately, DU's work cannot offset all of the negative forces both natural (e.g. drought) and man-made (e.g. wetland drainage)-every year.

But, if DU had not been investing in habitat over the past 60 years, duck numbers would not be as high as they are today. The need will continue for the future and your support is essential to habitat conservation. Our challenge is to continue to restore and enhance as much quality habitat as possible in the key waterfowl areas of North America.

How does DU conserve wetlands and habitat?

Answer: Our conservation section outlines the various ways we conserve, restore and enhance habitat. Click here!

What are the various DU conservation programs with corporations, organizations and landowners?

Answer: Ducks Unlimited's Partners Program is all about special partnerships and programs that provide people with new ways to express their love of nature, enhance their trips afield, and support their commitment to sharing nature's rewards with their children, grandchildren, and many generations to come. We have several corporate partners and organizations that support our conservation work. Examples of habitat projects can be found on the State pages of the website and in the Priority Areas of our conservation section.

How do I start a DU project on my land?

Answer: The first test is to assure that the proposed project fits the DU mission and objectives of DU's Priority Areas and the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. Next, our staff needs to determine whether it is viable from biological and engineering standpoints. Once these hurdles are cleared, the project is placed in priority order for funding. Higher priority goes to projects where the landowner will cost-share or contract with DU to deliver the project.

How does DU determine where to do a conservation project?

Answer: With limited funds available, DU must make every effort to assure that conservation dollars are expended as wisely, competently, and efficiently as possible. Conservation priorities are defined in DU's International Conservation Plan. Proposed projects must fit the objectives of this plan and must be feasible from biological, engineering, and financial standpoints.

How are DU's habitat projects funded throughout North America?

Answer: Ducks Unlimited has four regional offices: the Great Plains Regional Office in Bismarck, ND; the Southern Regional Office in Jackson, MS; the Western Regional Office in Sacramento, CA; and the Great Lakes/Atlantic Regional Office in Ann Arbor, MI. These offices use a combination of public and private sources of funds from individuals, foundations, corporations, and state and federal agencies to develop partnerships to fund our conservation programs in the U.S. Our regional offices raise a large percentage of their budget on their own from a variety of sources.

Click here for contact information for DU's Regional Offices.

What are wetlands?

Answer: Wetlands are areas inundated, or saturated, by surface water or groundwater that support hydric, or water-loving vegetation. Wetlands are also known as swamps, marshes, bogs, and many other localized names. Wetlands are some of the most productive ecosystems on earth, and they continue to be destroyed at an alarming rate. Wetlands provide us with benefits such as:

  • cleaner water in lakes and rivers
  • groundwater recharge
  • moderation of flooding and soil erosion
  • commercial and recreational fishing
  • boating, swimming, and other outdoor activities
  • fish and wildlife habitat
  • biodiversity

What is the national economic impact of increased bird populations?

Answer: As a resource, birds generate nearly $20 billion in economic activity and create more than 234,000 jobs in the U.S. A 1995 study commissioned by the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also reports that birds, as a resource of the U.S., generate more than $1 billion in state and federal tax revenues. Fewer birds can mean lower retail sales, less tax revenue, fewer jobs, and lost economic opportunities.

Does DU advocate predator control?

Answer: Killing predators on the nesting grounds to boost waterfowl production might seem like a logical way to ensure more ducks in the fall flight. But would it really be an effective use of the money hunters contribute to conservation? Would it really make a difference in the number of ducks most hunters see in front of their blind? These questions and many others are answered in this article.

Why does DU conduct conservation research?

Answer: DU's research focuses on issues of fundamental importance to the design and effectiveness of wetland and waterfowl conservation programs. This research is conducted through DU Inc.'s Regional Offices, and DU Canada's Institute for Wetland and Waterfowl Research (IWWR). Each DU Regional Office (link) has a Director of Conservation Planning who coordinates DU research in that region. DU typically enlists the expertise and cost-sharing of university partners and government agencies. Private foundations also are important partners in supporting DU research. DU catalyzes these joint efforts and ensures that more of the research done by universities benefits DU's mission and conservation programs. Read more about IWWR research at DU Canada's site.

I found a nest in my yard. What do I do?

Answer: Our conservation biologists highly recommend that you leave the nest undisturbed and try to avoid walking in its area.

What do I feed ducks?

Answer: Feed adult domestic ducks cracked corn and/or wheat. Feed domestic ducklings chick starter, which you can by at a pet store.

Ducks Unlimited does not recommend feeding wild waterfowl. As is often the case when humans interact with wildlife, problems begin to arise when humans feed waterfowl. Hand feeding wild animals, although entertaining, prevents them from learning to be wary of humans and can cause them to become a nuisance. Instead of living in the wild, these birds learn that they have food and protection from predators when they settle in the city.

Waterfowl become more susceptible to attack by domestic dogs, children throwing stones or trying to catch them, and other harassment from those who see them as a problem. Flocks of semi-tame birds can become nuisances by defecating of the grass and causing damage to parks, golf courses, and other recreational areas. Waterfowl can also become a water-quality issue because of the high levels of fecal coliform and nitrogen in their waste.

Furthermore, many people do not realize that a diet of white bread can be fatal to waterfowl. When the birds gorge themselves on bread, they stop eating their natural foods, which are much more nutritious. The birds become malnourished and there have also been cases of birds choking on wads of bread.

Many people feed waterfowl in the winter because they feel badly for the birds that have to live in the cold. Because of the extreme temperatures reached in the winter, migratory waterfowl need to fly south to find sufficient amounts of marsh and grassland plants to eat. Supplementary unnatural feedings may disrupt this natural cycle of migration.

Please, if you care for the birds, do not feed them. You are really doing them more harm than good.

A wetland in my area is being filled, drained, and/or developed. Who can help me?

Answer: Contact the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at (800) 832-7828 or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at

Where can I go hunting and what are the regulations?

Answer: There are several online resources that show hunting seasons and regulations across the United States. Contact your state agency at the Recreational Opportunities on Federal Lands web site at; your local Fish and Wildlife Service at; or access hunting information through the web site.

What do I do about too many ducks/geese on my property?

Answer: Contact your state Fish and Wildlife Service. For a directory, click here.

I shot a duck/goose with a band. Where do I report it?

Answer: Report all banded birds to the U.S.G.S. Bird Banding Lab by calling toll free, 1-800-327-BAND, or online.

Bird Banding Lab

Other questions?

Answer: Email our conservation department at