Volume 17, Issue 52
Delta Waterfowl has conducted a study that reports that the number of duck hunters on the North American continent is steadily decreasing. This indicates that the future of conservation projects and, ultimately, the numbers of waterfowl that continent can support are going to fail.
The report was published in the spring issue of Delta’s quarterly magazine. The story was titled, ‘Looming Crisis: Falling waterfowl hunter numbers threaten the future of hunting and conservation.’ According to Delta’s research, only 998,600 hunters pursued ducks in the United States in 2015. In comparison, 2 million hunters did so in 1970.
The decline in the number of duck hunters started in the mid-1990s. The number of duck hunters has declined almost every year since 1997 when the number of hunters was 1.41 million.
While this may seem like a win for some people, the decrease in duck hunters does cause some issues to arise. While the decrease in hunting might not cause an issue on its own, but couple that with a record boom in the duck populations and problems occur. While hunter numbers were similar in 2015 to what they were in 1990, in 1990 one of the lowest duck populations since records have been kept occurred. It has been estimated by biologists that fewer than 30 million ducks inhabited the North American continent in 1990. That number has increased to nearly 50 million ducks in 2015.
John Devney, vice president of U.S. policy for Delta Waterfowl believes that one of the causes of the decrease in numbers is because adult hunters do not have access to productive hunting grounds, so they do not take their kid’s hunting. Since adults are not introducing children to hunting, it leads to problems recruiting hunters later on.
“If we want waterfowl hunter numbers to grow or remain stable, we need recruitment to keep pace with the losses,” he said. “To recruit new hunters, we need to foster a social structure and peer support that allows a kid to stay in the game.
“We tell folks to support conservation — to replace the ducks they shoot every year. We should also be telling them that you must replace yourself as a duck hunter. That’s as big a part of the job as buying a federal duck stamp.”
Devney is mainly concerned that the hunter numbers are declining despite the record duck numbers. Starting in the mid-1990s, hunters have enjoyed liberal season lengths and bag limits because population numbers have been so high. An entire generation of hunters has no idea what it’s like to hunt when regulations are much more restricted.
“And we’re still losing hunters,” Devney said. “What happens when the prairies dry out and we have shorter duck seasons? It scares me to death. Mallards are doing well, but duck hunters are doing terribly.”
What do you think should be done about the increasing duck population? What is your biggest concern regarding the decrease in the number of duck hunters?
Source: Masson, Todd. “Duck Hunter Numbers Declining Significantly in Louisiana, Nationally.” NOLA.com. The Times-Picayune, 22 Mar. 2017. Web. 22 Mar. 2017.