History of Delta Waterfowl

Delta Waterfowl is The Duck Hunters Organization.

Delta Waterfowl traces its roots as a premiere waterfowl conservation organization to 1911.

James Ford Bell of General Mills Corporation is widely regarded as the founder of Delta Waterfowl. In the early 20th century, Bell was concerned about duck populations, particularly canvasbacks. He was inspired to put two ducks back for each one shot by hunters at his club on Manitoba’s famed Delta Marsh.

Seeking to make a difference, Bell brought Aldo Leopold — the father of modern game management — to Delta and hatched the idea of waterfowl research facility. In 1938, Hans Albert (Al) Hochbaum, who studied under Leopold, became the organization’s first scientific director. Hochbaum and his early Delta colleagues pioneered the study of breeding duck ecology and made key discoveries on habitat use and behavior.

In the years since, legions of graduate students working at Delta Waterfowl laid the foundation of our understanding of waterfowl and their habitat. And those same researchers who pursued master’s and doctorate degrees have gone on to greatly impact waterfowl conservation, serving in leadership positions in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Canadian Wildlife Service, non-governmental conservation organizations, and state and provincial agencies.

Today, Delta Waterfowl remains true to Bell’s vision, ever evolving to respond to the new threats and challenges facing ducks and duck hunters.

The Duck Hunters Organization serves the needs of ducks and duck hunters, recognizing not only the obstacles of low duck production and loss of breeding duck habitat, but also the decline of duck hunters across the United States and Canada.

Delta Waterfowl has developed several key programs — including Predator Management, Hen Houses, Working Wetlands and First Hunt — all of which are based on sound science. Delta works to produce ducks, conserve breeding duck habitat, enhance duck hunting opportunities and ensure the continuing tradition of waterfowl hunting in North America.

Delta staff and students also continue to conduct leading-edge research in order to answer key questions pertaining to waterfowl and wetland ecology and management.