Anderson: State should care more about its own ducks

  • Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 12, 2012 - 10:24 PM

Minnesotans have been duped by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's "liberal" management scheme.

Whether waterfowl manager is a scientific occupation or one devoted instead largely to cheerleading is a fair question now that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has reported "record" numbers of ducks on the continent.

Perhaps the service's estimated increase to 48.6 million ducks from last year's 45.6 million is accurate, perhaps not. Either way, it shouldn't affect duck-starved Minnesota, where wildlife managers in recent years have been busy trying to help hunters shoot their way back to waterfowling prosperity.

Not enough ducks in the bag on the season's first day because the state has relatively fewer ducks to offer its definitely fewer hunters now than in the past?

Let's change shooting time on the opener from noon to 9 a.m., en route finally to -- as last year -- starting shooting one-half hour before sunrise, thereby increasing hunter harvest.

That'll help ducks recover.

Ditto the 4 p.m. closing during the season's first weeks, which, like the noon opener, was intended to provide a respite for ducks, particularly for those reared here, encouraging them to stay in the state longer, while also more widely distributing the early season harvest.

Let's send that idea packing too.

In fairness, Minnesota waterfowl managers hoop and holler like grade-schoolers compared to the Dallas Cowboys cheerleader-like antics of their colleagues in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

It's the service's Adaptive Harvest Management (AHM) scheme that has duped Minnesota hunters since its beginning in 1995, suggesting each year that we've had enough ducks here to support a "liberal" six-duck limit and a 60-day season.

Which doubtless the state will have again this year -- six ducks daily and 60 days -- now that the media have done their part and trumpeted this "record number of ducks" hooey.

Helpful here might be reference to a recently completed study by Todd Arnold and Cristina de Sobrino of the department of fisheries, wildlife and conservation biology at the U.

Arnold and De Sobrino wanted to know in which state or province mallards originate, relative to the states in which they are harvested.

Put another way, specific to Minnesota, is the old saw that "three-quarters of the ducks we shoot come from Canada" still true, as it was believed to be years ago?

The answer is important for many reasons, among them as a determinant in developing regulations concerning shooting times, bag limits, season lengths, habitat conservation, etc. Obviously, a state (think Iowa) that is entirely, or nearly entirely, dependent on another state or province for its ducks will regulate its season and allocate its habitat resources (if any) in ways different than, say, Minnesota, North Dakota or South Dakota, each of which is a duck-producer.

"It is true that in the 1960s and 1970s, as much as 75 percent of the mallards that were killed in Minnesota came from other states and provinces," Arnold said. "But that's no longer the case. Today, 50 percent of mallards that are harvested in the state were raised here."

Meaning that what Minnesota (and even more so Wisconsin, where 73 percent of harvested mallards were home-reared, and Michigan -- 68 percent) does today in terms of habitat preservation and enhancement, and hunting regulations, is more important than ever.

(Caveat: Arnold and De Sobrino studied only mallards, because only they are banded in sufficient numbers to do these kinds of analyses. Not unreasonably, given the overall lack of ducks in Minnesota, similar inferences could be drawn for at least some other species.)

Said Arnold: "Here in Minnesota, we should care about our own ducks and our own local habitat and not depend on the great northern duck factory to bail us out, because it won't. In Minnesota, we'll eat what we produce."

Whether AHM is merely a complicating factor in this relatively recent phenomenon, or a contributor, is unknown. What is known is that the six-and-60 liberal seasons in place since the strategy's beginning have been based on what's described as the Midcontinent mallard breeding population, which includes the Dakotas and prairie Canada, as well as Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.

"But mallards in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan are a drop in the bucket compared to these other areas," Arnold said, adding:

"Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan really should be aware of the potential of their local birds to be overharvested during years of liberal seasons. Maybe it shouldn't be like managing resident species such as pheasants or grouse. But something like that."

Dennis Anderson •

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.


Tennessee 12/18/14 7:25 PM
Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Atlanta 127 FINAL
Cleveland 98
Phoenix 111 FINAL
Charlotte 106
Dallas 117 FINAL
Detroit 106
Utah 105 FINAL
Miami 87
Orlando 92 FINAL
Boston 109
Brooklyn 89 FINAL
Toronto 105
Memphis 115 3rd OT 2:08
San Antonio 113
Milwaukee 64 3rd Qtr 2:23
Portland 64
Houston 40 2nd Qtr 3:22
Denver 54
Indiana 51 3rd Qtr
LA Clippers 52
Ottawa 2 FINAL
New Jersey 0
Boston 3 FINAL(OT)
Minnesota 2
Dallas 1 2nd Prd 2:24
Vancouver 0
Langston 65 FINAL
North Texas 78
Delaware State 72 FINAL
St Francis-NY 64
James Madison 72 FINAL
Ball State 52
SIU Edwardsville 65 FINAL
Campbell 70
St Francis-PA 67 FINAL
Duquesne 52
North Florida 77 FINAL
Florida State 93
Catawba 69 FINAL
George Mason 99
Ferrum 48 FINAL
High Point 106
Hampton 55 FINAL
Illinois 73
Gardner-Webb 65 FINAL
Jacksonville 68
Longwood 60 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 71
Arkansas State 69 FINAL
Miss State 55
Tennessee 72 FINAL
NC State 83
Ohio State 97
Manhattan 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 65
Robert Morris 57 FINAL
Toledo 83
Char Southern 58 FINAL
Wofford 64
Kennesaw St 90 FINAL
Youngstown St 84
Barber-Scotia 52 FINAL
NC Central 108
Detroit 70 FINAL
UCF 75
Liberty 70 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 73
Denver 83
Ark-Pine Bluff 61 FINAL
Houston 56
UT Martin 54 FINAL
Illinois State 64
Milligan 76 FINAL
Louisiana 115
Abilene Christian 44 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 83
USC Upstate 73 FINAL
Memphis 83
Alcorn State 56 FINAL
Murray State 94
Central Mich 80 FINAL
Northwestern 67
Georgia State 54 FINAL
Old Dominion 58
TX-Pan American 69 FINAL
Saint Louis 75
Ill-Chicago 46 FINAL
SMU 67
Texas State 60 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 66
SC State 39 FINAL
Texas Tech 101
Missouri State 70 FINAL
Tulsa 74
Chicago State 60 FINAL
Western Ky 75
Morehead State 50 FINAL
Green Bay 66
Northern Colorado 82 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 92
Winthrop 62 FINAL
Auburn 80
New Mexico St 55 FINAL
Baylor 66
San Diego St 62 FINAL
Cincinnati 71
Eastern Mich 46 FINAL
Michigan State 66
Loyola Marymount 58 FINAL
Stanford 67
Incarnate Word 82 FINAL
Grand Canyon 80
Northeastern 58 2nd Half 0:23
Cal Poly 60
Central Arkansas 47 2nd Half 7:15
New Mexico 60
Howard 35 2nd Half 7:59
Pepperdine 36
Portland 29 2nd Half
CS-Northridge 20 1st Half 6:59
Oregon 20
Grambling St 6 1st Half 4:18
Washington 35
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Western Carolina 79 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 66
(21) Miss State 66 FINAL
Louisiana 51
(25) DePaul 109 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 84
Liberty 64 FINAL
NC State 67
Elon 77 FINAL
Campbell 51
Akron 73 FINAL
UCF 64
Richmond 77 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 67
Montana 70 FINAL
Seattle 64
(7) Stanford 46 FINAL
Chattanooga 54
Florida A&M 69 FINAL
Southern U 80
Oklahoma 72 FINAL
(13) Duke 92
Savannah State 56 FINAL
Auburn 62
Northern Colorado 43 FINAL
South Florida 84
Youngstown St 73 FINAL
Robert Morris 65
Siena 75 FINAL
Sacred Heart 65
Vermont 63 FINAL
St Francis-NY 61
(1) South Carolina 69 FINAL
Hampton 49
Fla Gulf Coast 91 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 46
Texas Southern 92 FINAL
Houston Baptist 80
Northwestern 88 FINAL
Appalachian St 72
NC Central 52 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 67
Drexel 50 FINAL
Quinnipiac 74
Cincinnati 52 FINAL
Northern Ky 66
Alabama State 53 FINAL
Georgia Tech 77
Morehead St 69 FINAL
USC Upstate 75
Arkansas State 59 FINAL
Kent State 44
American Univ 60 FINAL
Manhattan 52
UNC Greensboro 60 FINAL
St Bonaventure 78
Arkansas-Monticello 56 FINAL
Northwestern St 61
Prairie View 70 FINAL
Sam Houston St 51
McNeese State 59 FINAL
(3) Texas 76
Yale 90 FINAL
Wagner 65
Oakland 61 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 54
Eastern Kentucky 62 FINAL
Alabama A&M 56
SIU-Edwardsville 47 FINAL
Northern Ill 69
McMurry 25 FINAL
TX-Arlington 82
Portland 65 FINAL
Eastern Washington 72
North Texas 38 2nd Half 1:48
San Francisco 56
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question