U.S. Department of the Interior commits to conservation on the breeding grounds and predator management to increase duck production
BISMARCK, NORTH DAKOTA — Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke signed an historic Secretarial Order today that commits to the continued work of conserving wetland and upland nesting habitat through conservation easements, while also advancing predator management as a tool to increase duck production. The Order was crafted following an extensive effort to gather the input of Delta Waterfowl and a number of hunting and conservation organizations.
The Duck Hunters Organization believes that these relatively minor investments will yield exponential returns on behalf of waterfowl habitat and duck populations.
“Today’s Secretarial Order demonstrates the Trump Administration’s willingness to double down on its commitment to ducks and duck hunters,” said Dr. Frank Rohwer, president and chief scientist of Delta Waterfowl. “We are most appreciative of the bold leadership of the Secretary and President in pursuit of our shared vision for conserving America’s rich waterfowl breeding grounds, while increasing duck production through the use of intensive management.”
According to Dr. Scott Petrie, chief executive officer of Delta Waterfowl, Secretary Zinke’s Order reaffirms the link between the agency, conservation and hunters.
“The Order is proof positive that Secretary Zinke understands the importance of sustaining robust waterfowl populations, and recognizes the needs of hunters, who are the driving force behind America’s rich conservation heritage,” Petrie said. “It is vital that we conserve and manage essential wetland and grassland habitat on key breeding grounds by partnering with willing farmers and ranchers through the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service easement program. Today’s Order demonstrates the administration’s understanding of the critical role these programs will play in ensuring sustainable waterfowl habitat and populations.”
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Conservation Easement Program has conserved one-third of the critical wetlands in the U.S. Prairie Pothole Region and millions of acres of native grasslands via voluntary conservation easements. These easements ensure that waterfowl habitats are preserved in perpetuity while keeping the land in private ownership and allowing continued agricultural production.
“We are also extremely pleased that Secretary Zinke recognizes the utility of predator management in key areas of the breeding grounds,” Rohwer said. “Today’s Secretarial Order serves as yet another affirmation of Delta’s longstanding commitment to researching and deploying predator management for the benefit of breeding ducks. We stand by as a scientific resource for the Secretary, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service leadership and other stakeholders to continue to advance this important conversation for the benefit of enhanced duck production, and ultimately for more ducks in the fall flight for waterfowl hunters to enjoy.”
Delta’s evaluation of predator management spans more than 20 years of collaboration with universities and graduate students with field crews across the Prairie Pothole Region. Delta’s extensive research documents how and where to apply the tool for the greatest benefit to breeding ducks. In many areas of the PPR, changes in the composition and abundance of predator populations have resulted in significant declines in duck nest success, with many areas at 10 percent or less. However, Delta’s predator management research in these areas has consistently demonstrated a two- to three-fold increase in nest success — the key determinant of whether duck populations rise or fall.
“This is an exciting and historic day for ducks and duck hunters,” Rohwer said. “While a number of challenges facing ducks and duck hunters remain, the actions taken today by Secretary Zinke undoubtedly reaffirm his commitment to working with hunters and the conservation community toward our shared goal of a brighter future for waterfowl.”
For more information, contact John Devney, vice president of U.S. policy, at (701) 471-4235 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Delta Waterfowl Foundation is The Duck Hunters Organization, a leading conservation group working to produce ducks and ensure the tradition of duck hunting in North America.