Club news: Delta Waterfowl numbers rising


For most of its history dating back to 1911, North Dakota-based Delta Waterfowl could count its members pretty quickly, as in around 1,500 or so. But by the 1990s, as duck production continued to plunge, an army of individual duck hunters signed up in support of Delta's mission.

The research and science-based organization now counts its members in the 40,000 range.

A little history

Back in 1911 James Ford Bell, an employee of 3M and an avid duck hunter, came to realize that duck numbers were declining rapidly.

With advice from Aldo Leopold, he organized Delta Waterfowl with the objective of attracting the best and brightest researchers and scientists available to come help stem the tide of decline.

"Leopold advised him to start a research-based science organization out of the marsh, and that's what he did," said Dan Nelson, editor of Delta's quarterly magazine.

"He wanted to form the most prestigious research foundation on the continent for waterfowl research. And he did."

To the present

Even today science remains a huge part of Delta's approach.

While Ducks Unlimited focuses almost exclusively on habitat, however, Delta takes a more widespread approach, with programs like predator control, alternative land use, their Adopt-a-Pothole program and cutting edge research.

"We now have over 200 chapters, and we're continuing to grow rapidly," said Nelson.

Both individuals and organizations can join, with individual dues as little as $25. To join, go to www.deltawaterfowl.org or call (888) 987-3695.

This year

Said Delta Waterfowl's Dan Nelson about the 2005/06 waterfowl season: "We've been guardedly optimistic. Conditions were excellent in Canada, but it got wet late.

Mallards and pintails had already gone through, and that means they may come back early and go way north.

The later nesting species did pretty well, but the Canada prairie duck factory is a mess. It's broken. The habitat losses are ongoing. Duck production has been going down since the 1950s.

Increases have only come about because of the CRP programs in the U.S."

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