IOWA DNR CONSERVES CRITICAL HABITAT NORTH OF THE BORDER
DES MOINES, Iowa,– Since 1973, Iowa duck hunters have harvested 8.3 million ducks, most of which according to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates originated from the Prairie Pothole Region. Throughout this 37-year period, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources has contributed over $1.1 million to support the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, which provides vital funding for habitat conservation work in Canada, a primary source of Iowa’s ducks.
“We commend the Iowa DNR for their commitment and significant contributions to conserve quality habitat in key areas of Canada. These areas provide critical breeding habitat for waterfowl that migrate through the state each year,” said Eric Lindstrom, Ducks Unlimited regional biologist.
The DNR’s investments are matched two-to-one by Ducks Unlimited and Ducks Unlimited Canada and leveraged with additional funding from North American Wetlands Conservation Act grants. With this international partnership, each dollar invested by Iowans is leveraged into over $5 of habitat conservation work in Canada.
“It is imperative to understand the importance of prairie Canada to waterfowl migration,” said Greg Drees, chair of Iowa DNR’s Natural Resource Commission. “When waterfowl grace Iowa wetlands each spring and autumn during their grand passage, many of these birds are bound for, or arriving from, life-giving Canadian sites. The Iowa DNR and many of its partners are committed to help sustain invaluable habitat conservation efforts in Canada.”
In January, the Iowa DNR renewed its commitment to keeping Iowa’s duck hunting heritage alive by committing $36,000 to DU’s state grants program that is working to conserve waterfowl habitat in the Lightning Creek region of Saskatchewan. These funds are derived from roughly 15 percent of Iowa’s migratory bird stamp sales. The state grants program represents a unique international funding partnership that preserves critical waterfowl habitat in Saskatchewan and other parts of Canada, while working towards achieving the goals of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan.
Recognized as a continentally important waterfowl breeding and staging area, Lightning Creek is comprised of 2.9 million acres including 31,000 acres of conserved habitat on over 200 DU Canada projects. Waterfowl harvest and band recovery data complied from 1923-2008 confirms that Saskatchewan, and the Lightning Creek region in particular, are the primary source of ducks harvested in Iowa (see map). The area averaged 250,000 individual wetland basins in May, which supported an estimated 603,909 breeding duck pairs in 2009.
Due to a lack of strong federal and provincial wetland protection policies, however, wetlands across Canada remain at risk of future drainage and degradation. “The future recovery of species of concern, like northern pintail, hinges greatly on our ability to protect and restore large contiguous blocks of grassland and wetland habitat and help advance positive agricultural policies throughout the region that benefit both producers and ducks,” Lindstrom said.
Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest non-profit organization dedicated to conserving North America’s continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved nearly 13 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow, and forever.
|Map depicting ducks banded in Saskatchewan and harvested in Iowa from 1923-2008.|