Conservation Advocate Purchases Delta Marsh Property

Delta Waterfowl will maintain access to the historic Manitoba parcel for research programs

DELTA STATION, MANITOBA — The Manitoba property where Delta Waterfowl was founded has a new owner, a leading conservationist who will ensure The Duck Hunters Organization’s legacy of important waterfowl research will continue there.

John Childs, a Florida businessman and philanthropist with an affinity for waterfowl, has purchased the historic York Lodge property that includes a large segment of the north shore of the Delta Marsh. The property had been owned by the heirs of Delta Waterfowl founder James Ford Bell, who bought the parcel in 1926, and soon after, started a waterfowl research facility there known as the “Delta Duck Station.”

Situated on the south shores of Lake Manitoba, Delta Marsh is a storied waterfowl staging area known to host large numbers of canvasbacks during the fall migration. A love of canvasbacks first attracted Bell to buy the marsh property.

Childs too, is enamored of canvasbacks, and he has a long history of contributing millions to waterfowl research and conservation. He is funding the lion’s share of a massive Delta Waterfowl research project that seeks management options to increase canvasback production throughout the parklands of Canada. Acquiring the Delta Marsh property furthers his goal of helping canvasbacks and other ducks.

“John Childs wants to make sure the Delta Marsh remains one of North America’s crown jewel wetlands,” said Dr. Frank Rohwer, Delta’s president and chief scientist. “Through his help, Delta Waterfowl will be able to expand its research, management and conservation work on the Delta Marsh.”

Childs plans to advance marsh management for divers and dabblers, as well as to promote leading waterfowl and wetlands research on the marsh. For instance, he wants to facilitate a cooperative banding effort aimed primarily at canvasbacks, but also targeting redheads and other divers to gain better information on harvest and survival rates. Likewise, Childs will continue to contribute to the effort to exclude carp from the Delta Marsh using fish gates at the entrances to the marsh. Another research effort involves testing methods to promote sago pondweed and other submerged aquatic vegetation that are the preferred foods of canvasbacks.

“My aspirations and use of the property will be very consistent with the goals of Delta Waterfowl,” Childs said. “I want to look at ways to improve the Delta Marsh, and make it a test bed for creative science that can help canvasbacks and other waterfowl.”

Delta is thrilled and grateful that Childs has acquired the property not only for the legacy value it brings to the organization, but also for its continued potential to advance waterfowl management throughout North America.

“His purchase of the property is a spectacular gift,” Rohwer said. “Delta Waterfowl is honored that Childs has supported our programs over the years. His contributions have been critical to waterfowl science and conservation.”

For more information, contact Dr. Frank Rohwer at (701) 222-8857 or

Delta Waterfowl is The Duck Hunters Organization, a leading conservation group working to produce ducks and ensure the tradition of duck hunting in North America.