Breeding Waterfowl Habitat
Louisiana duck hunters regularly harvest more ducks than any other state in the U.S. According to the most recent USFWS Waterfowl Harvest Report, Louisiana killed 1.85 million ducks during the 2009/2010 hunting season, more than any other state. Our hunters averaged over 23 ducks per hunt, which was second only to California where waterfowl hunters enjoy a 107-day duck season compared to only a 60-day season here in Louisiana. However, the overwhelming majority of those ducks harvested in Louisiana are produced somewhere else. Louisiana is a wintering state, arguably the most important wintering state in the U.S., but we rely on good habitat conditions on the breeding grounds in places like North and South Dakota in the U.S. and Saskatchewan and Manitoba in Canada, to produce those birds. Consequently, Louisiana waterfowl hunters and the LDWF feel a responsibility to support activities in those important breeding habitats.
That responsibility to participate in habitat conservation on the breeding grounds as well as here in Louisiana has manifested itself in state law providing for financial support for those conservation activities. Specifically, Revised Statute 56:104(A)(1)(b) states: An amount equal to ten percent of the fees collected from the sale of hunting licenses shall be dedicated by the commission to the development and preservation of breeding grounds for migratory waterfowl, the funds to be expended for such purposes through Ducks Unlimited, Inc. or under the direction of the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission at its discretion ... So Louisiana hunters support conservation activities on the breeding grounds as prescribed by law and directed by the LWF Commission.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries was the first state agency to provide funding for breeding grounds conservation outside of its boundaries starting in the early-1960’s. From the beginning until 2002, all funding was administered through Ducks Unlimited to support projects to create, restore, and enhance wetland and grassland habitat for breeding waterfowl in Canada. In 2002, one-third of the money was awarded to Delta Waterfowl Foundation to support predator-control research in North Dakota, and in 2008, Delta Waterfowl was awarded half of the available funding to support a wetland easement program called Adopt-A-Pothole in Manitoba and Alternative Land Use Services program across the Canadian Prairie Provinces. During that time, Ducks Unlimited has continued their established programs to secure wetland and grassland easements, convert grain-crops to grassland habitat, increase cultivation of winter wheat, and manage existing acreage under conservation agreement from decades of past work to maximize the value of that acreage for breeding ducks.
Each year, reports from the conservation work supported by LDWF hunting license revenue is required prior to payment, and allows LDWF staff, LWF Commission members, and Louisiana’s hunters to see what has been done with those funds. Below are the reports submitted by each organization for the past 2 contracts. The projects supported by contributions from state agencies across the U.S. have been extremely popular with nearly all states in the Central and Mississippi Flyway providing some level of support. In acknowledgement of the importance of the breeding grounds to the overall health of waterfowl populations, and thus our hunting success, we are looking forward to posting many more reports of this partnership between southern hunters and habitat conservation on the Canadian Prairies.