A legendary waterfowl biologist and hunting advocate, Dr. Frank Rohwer was raised near the Chesapeake Bay, where at age 12 he began duck hunting the public marshes on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
“As I grew up, I saw the Chesapeake’s ecosystem fall apart,” he said. “It lost its submerged aquatic vegetation, ducks and fish. That had a big impact on me.”
During Rohwer’s senior year of high school, he was invited to hunt the Central Flyway by his brother, Sievert, who was completing a Ph.D. in waterfowl ecology at Kansas State University.
“I was simply overwhelmed at the number of ducks,” Rohwer said. “That one trip convinced me to go to Kansas State for the duck hunting — as it turned out, the academics were perfect for me, too.”
Rohwer was instructed by internationally known faculty, including Steve Fretwell, and sought additional guidance from graduate biology students.
“In particular, a Ph.D. candidate named Patrick Caldwell was a Delta Waterfowl student,” Rohwer said. “As soon as I learned of Delta, I wanted to work there. I pestered then-scientific director Dr. Bruce Batt for two years before I wore him down and he hired me to be a summer technician at Delta in 1976.”
Rohwer remained a Delta student while completing his undergraduate degree and earning a Master of Science degree from Washington State University. He attained a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and completed postdoctoral work at Queen’s University in Ontario.
In the ensuing decades, Rohwer ascended from Delta Waterfowl student to president and chief scientist of the organization — and one of its most recognizable public faces. And while his early research focused on basic waterfowl mysteries, such as why ducks lay about 10 eggs and not more, his more recent work is unlocking cutting-edge tools to help Delta boost the fall flight.
“The body of scientific work that other waterfowl folks most associate with me is my research that shows Predator Management is an effective and efficient strategy to increase production for dabbing ducks,” he said.
One thing has remained constant throughout Rohwer’s four-decade career: Delta Waterfowl “follows the science” to find solutions for ducks and duck hunters.
“I am exceptionally proud of our strong base in science,” he said. “Science guides our programs and policies, not emotion and political correctness. I love working at Delta because we always speak the truth, even when it isn’t pretty.”
When he isn’t guiding Delta’s research, Rohwer enjoys hunting ducks and pheasants with his English springer spaniel, Spat, and playing sports with his 10-year-old son.