Is There a Downside to High Duck Production?

Delta Waterfowl predicts excellent wetland conditions for the 2011 waterfowl nesting cycle:

Record soil moisture and a heavy snow pack, combined with a quick thaw could mean serious flooding on both sides of the Canada/US border. There is a ton of potential trouble for landowners…and possibly an epic breeding season for waterfowl.

“This is nothing but good news for ducks,” says Delta Waterfowl’s Scientific Director Frank Rohwer. “When you get great water conditions, you get more females breeding where they should be breeding…on the prairies.”

This is great news, don't get me wrong, but the pessimist in me wonders if there could be a downside to Delta's prediction. If we experience a large spike in duck production this spring, it will be a short-term boom resulting from pure luck (above-average precipitation), not a true indication of habitat quality or the long-term health of waterfowl populations. What if some sportsmen don't recognize that and are lulled into complacency?

We can't afford that, especially given the prairie pothole region's (PPR) state of flux. The Canadian side of the PPR has been described as "broken" and the American side is under threat by a proposal to cut funding for the North American Wetlands Conservation Act.

Let's root for a good nesting year, but remain vigilant in our efforts to promote habitat restoration. Work locally, renew your membership in hunter-conservation groups and let politicians know where you stand on conservation funding.

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