Anderson: Outcry needed to improve fortunes for ducks, duck hunters

  • Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 27, 2013 - 12:27 AM

Politicians, resource professionals and the press are all too silent on the plight of waterfowl in Minnesota.

hide

Duck hunters.

Photo: DOUG SMITH • dsmith@startribune.com,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

A week ago, on the eve of the waterfowl opener, I wrote a column saying, in part, that the duck season was opening too early and that the limits were too high.

But the column’s broader point, perhaps too broadly made, was twofold, specifically:

• By not educating the state’s waterfowlers more fully and publicly about the many problems facing the state’s ducks, and enjoining them in the fight to conserve these birds, and instead pandering (my word) to them with an early opener and higher limits, particularly for wood ducks and hen mallards, Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr and Deputy Commissioner Dave Schad — ardent waterfowlers both — were doing both ducks and duck hunters a disservice.

• This disservice is compounded, I said, “especially now, during the greatest U.S. farmland conversion since the tractor replaced the horse” when the commissioner and assistant commissioner don’t “stand tall and very publicly against the onslaught of degradation that has overwhelmed Minnesota wetlands and wetland wildlife, not least ducks.”

Some thoughts:

Regardless whether a given waterfowler believes the early opener and higher limits will lower the state’s breeding populations of wood ducks, teal and mallards over time (I believe they will; others argue they won’t), virtually no one in the state sees a bright future for ducks, at least not in the near and intermediate terms, given habitat losses, the rampant use of pesticides and other farmland chemicals, and the effects of urban sprawl and other development.

A lot of habitat work is being accomplished in the state by the DNR, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Ducks Unlimited, etc., thanks largely to passage of the Legacy Act in 2008 and establishment of the Wildlife Heritage Fund.

But few expect this work, important as it is, will counterbalance entirely the habitat losses and degradation the state has experienced, and will continue to experience.

This seems especially true given the dim prospect of passage anytime soon of a federal farm bill that reasonably balances production with conservation.

So more must be done. In my view, the state’s top conservation professionals, e.g., Landwehr and Schad, among others, should lead the way. Not only by properly establishing a public agency’s habitat, spending and other priorities, but by rallying the troops and the public at large by laying out exactly and very visibly the source of threats to ducks and other aquatic resources, and what must be done to combat these concerns.

Which of course isn’t occurring in Minnesota (or other states, or in Washington). Nor has it for many years.

The reason, simply, is “politics,” which manifests itself not only as influence leveraged disproportionately on policymakers (such as DNR commissioners), the Legislature and Congress by developers and, particularly, the farm lobby, but as split allegiances among even the most serious waterfowlers (and other sporting types).

This last bunch, for example, might love to hunt ducks or use other natural resources, but nonetheless, in a voting booth, often considers a candidate’s fiscal policy or religion or political philosophy (or whatever) ahead of his or her conservation record.

False beliefs, willingly formed, often justify these votes, e.g., that “things aren’t as bad as they seem” or “the threat is overblown by the media.”

Handmaidens to this dysfunction have been three key groups: political leaders (presidents and governors) who lack information, political will, courage or all three; top resource professionals who work for these leaders, who have the information, but fear for their jobs or careers or are risk-averse; and the press, including in some cases outdoors writers, some of whom are happy enough to shoot what they can while not straying too far off the establishment reservation, for fear of ridicule and disenfranchisement.

Years ago, the cost to society of this conspiracy of silence was relatively minimal, because resources were plentiful and threats to them fewer.

Today, we enjoy no such latitude.

Leaders, for example, who are mute on climate change and its potential consequences might as well be deniers of it, because the effect is the same: No progress.

Similarly are those who are silent on the threat to ducks and their aquatic and grassland habitats.

Leaders who don’t use their offices as bully pulpits to educate waterfowlers — and the citizenry at large — about the seriousness of the issue, and about possible solutions, are in their own way accelerating the demise of these resources.

Welcome to Minnesota, circa 2013.

 

Dennis Anderson • danderson@startribune.com

  • 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

NY Yankees - LP: B. McCarthy 3 FINAL
Toronto - WP: J. Happ 4
Philadelphia - LP: A. Burnett 5 FINAL
NY Mets - WP: D. Gee 6
Cincinnati - WP: J. Cueto 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh - LP: J. Hughes 2
Minnesota - LP: R. Nolasco 8 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: W. Chen 12
Boston - WP: C. Buchholz 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: A. Cobb 0
Detroit - LP: R. Porcello 2 FINAL
Chicago WSox - WP: J. Quintana 6
Texas - LP: N. Cotts 2 FINAL
Houston - WP: J. Veras 3
Chicago Cubs - LP: C. Villanueva 6 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: P. Neshek 9
Oakland - LP: S. Kazmir 1 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: M. Shoemaker 8
Milwaukee - LP: K. Lohse 5 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: M. Bumgarner 15
Los Angeles - WP: H. Ryu 7 FINAL
San Diego - LP: E. Stults 1
Washington - LP: T. Roark 3 FINAL
Seattle - WP: H. Iwakuma 5
Colorado - LP: J. De La Rosa 2 FINAL
Arizona - WP: C. Anderson 6
Miami - LP: N. Eovaldi 0 FINAL
Atlanta - WP: A. Wood 1
Cleveland 4 Suspended
Kansas City 2
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
Troy 10 FINAL
UAB 48
(7) UCLA 28 FINAL
Virginia 20
Western Mich 34 FINAL
Purdue 43
(5) Ohio State 34 FINAL
Navy 17
Appalachian St 14 FINAL
Michigan 52
Ga Southern 23 FINAL
NC State 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Massachusetts 7
West Virginia 23 FINAL
(2) Alabama 33
Rice 17 FINAL
(17) Notre Dame 48
(10) South Dakota St 18 FINAL
(24) Missouri 38
Fla Atlantic 7 FINAL
(22) Nebraska 55
California 31 FINAL
Northwestern 24
Marshall 42 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 27
UC Davis 0 FINAL
(11) Stanford 45
Arkansas 21 FINAL
(6) Auburn 45
(16) Clemson 21 FINAL
(12) Georgia 45
Liberty 29 FINAL
(23) North Carolina 56
Ohio U 17 FINAL
Kent State 14
Louisiana Tech 16 FINAL
(4) Oklahoma 48
Stephen F Austin 16 FINAL
(20) Kansas State 55
Fresno State 13 FINAL
(15) USC 52
Southern Miss 0 FINAL
Miss State 49
Texas-El Paso 31 FINAL
New Mexico 24
North Texas 7 FINAL
Texas 38
(1) Florida State 37 FINAL
Oklahoma State 31
(14) Wisconsin 24 FINAL
(13) LSU 28
Idaho 0 Postponed
Florida 0
South Dakota 13 FINAL
(3) Oregon 62
(25) Washington 17 FINAL
Hawaii 16
Utah State 7 FINAL
Tennessee 38
SMU 0 FINAL
(10) Baylor 45
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
SMU 9/6/14 11:00 AM
North Texas
Fla Atlantic 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(2) Alabama
Buffalo 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Army
(24) Missouri 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Toledo
Arkansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
(8) McNeese State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(22) Nebraska
Central Mich 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Akron 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Western Ill 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(14) Wisconsin
(20) Kansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
(4) Oklahoma 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tulsa
Western Ky 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
SC State 9/6/14 11:30 AM
(16) Clemson
Navy 9/6/14 12:00 PM
Temple
UAB 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Miss State
South Alabama 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Kent State
New Mexico St 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Colorado 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Fresno State 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Utah
(1) Eastern Wash 9/6/14 2:00 PM
(25) Washington
(15) USC 9/6/14 2:30 PM
(11) Stanford
Ohio U 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Middle Tennessee 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Northern Ill 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Missouri State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Ball State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Iowa
Maryland 9/6/14 2:30 PM
So Florida
Eastern Mich 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Florida
Georgia Tech 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Tulane
(18) Ole Miss 9/6/14 3:30 PM
Vanderbilt
Old Dominion 9/6/14 5:00 PM
NC State
(8) Michigan State 9/6/14 5:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(19) Arizona State 9/6/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico
Louisiana Tech 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
San Jose St 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(6) Auburn
East Carolina 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Duke 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Troy
Idaho 9/6/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(17) Sam Houston St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(13) LSU
Michigan 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
Lamar 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(21) Texas A&M
Northwestern St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
BYU 9/6/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Citadel 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(1) Florida State
San Diego St 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Virginia Tech 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(5) Ohio State
Memphis 9/6/14 9:00 PM
(7) UCLA
Colorado State 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Air Force 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 9/6/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Texas Tech 9/6/14 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Red Bull New York 0 FINAL
D.C. 2
Los Angeles 3 FINAL
Chivas USA 0
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
Winnipeg 30 FINAL
Saskatchewan 35
Toronto 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 3:30 PM
Calgary
Phoenix 77 FINAL
Minnesota 82
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

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

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close