Relationship between Waterfowl Hunters and Waterfowl Conservation

Relationship between Waterfowl Hunters and Conservation

Introduction

Waterfowls are some of the most interesting bird species on planet earth. They fall under the group of birds that consist of swans, ducks, screamers, and geese. The birds occupy freshwater habitats and are found in most continents, with an exception of Antarctica. In Florida, waterfowls offer substantial economic benefits and recreational value to local and international tourists (Batzer & Baldwin, 2012). Due to the various benefits, various conservation programs have been designed to see the conservation of the species.

Hunting of waterfowls can be beneficial in managing the wildlife population and for the conservation of the environment. Through hunting, economic benefits can be realized through license issuing, purchase of hunting equipment, and paying of hunting fees. The money realized  from the hunting activities can be used for the conservation activities of the wildlife ecosystems and habitats. One benefit that can be achieved through hunting is managing the wildlife population, so that habitat resources such as water, food, and space are not exhausted.  

Human activities have significantly affected the waterfowl habitats and populations. Unnatural reasons such as deforestation, pollution, and waterfowl hunting contribute to the threats facing waterfowl species in the world today. Natural phenomena such as climate change, predation, diseases, and natural environmental changes in waterfowl habitats also contribute to deterioration in the number of the birds. With these challenges in place, organizations such as the Department of Fish and Wildlife have come together with international conservation programs to monitor the changes in waterfowl populations. This paper attempts to look at waterfowl hunters and the conservation strategies put in place to protect and conserve the birds and the wetland habitat.

Waterfowl Hunting

Wildlife hunting has desecrated waterfowl populations to the brink of extinction. Various laws are established to regulate the hunting activities so that the birds’ population can increase but not to exceed the habitat’s carrying capacity. Waterfowl hunting has various positive impacts on the wetland habitats. Waterfowl hunters contribute to conservation of the wetland habitats through the funds collected and taking personal initiative to protect the bird’s population.

  Waterfowl hunting is considered a business in the United States, whereby hunters spent a lot of money a year to engage in the practice. Various aspects are considered in the hunting activity such as firearm acquisition, communication equipment’s, and various licenses and fees that are paid by the hunters. Hunting activity is a job creation activity for the personalities making the hunting ammunitions and conservationists utilizing the fees that are paid to the hunting grounds (Colwell, 2010). Waterfowl hunting is beneficial in managing and controlling the birds’ population so that environmental rehabilitation activities can take place in various habitats. 

Waterfowl hunting is a sporting activity that is carried out by few individuals that are ethical and are sensitive towards environmental conservation practices. The negative perception of hunters can, therefore, beviewed as a wrong since hunting is an important tool in conservation. The benefit of hunting in conservation is to reduce the bird population so that the few remaining waterfowl habitats can sustain a healthy population. There are laws governing the hunting of waterfowl as sporting activity. The hunters are expected to follow the hunting regulations and manage waterfowl hunts according to the permitted period. In the United States of America, Duck Unlimited is the organization that is concerned with the conservation of waterfowl (Garone, 2011). The Duck Unlimited work to protect the waterfowl habitats and maintaining the birds’ population for the future generation. The organization performs crucial habitat conservation and restoration of the degraded waterfowl habitats in all the breeding areas.

Going back to the history of nineteenth and twentieth century, when there was intensive wildlife hunting for commercial reasons. The population of waterfowl dropped significantly causing a major drop in the bird population (Batzer & Baldwin, 2012). The massive decline raised an eyebrow to the hunters to consider conservation programs in line with the spot hunting. In order to sustain the hunting activities, various federal and state agencies have engaged in various habitat restoration programs that enable the growth and distribution of waterfowl in various parts of the state.

One considerationis for the hunters to maintain the habitat status of the breeding grounds (Wells, 2011). The changes in climatic conditions always affect the waterfowl breeding grounds. The habitats may be dry or too wet that hinders the nesting grounds hence affecting the breeding range. This will result to a decrease in the number of waterfowls for the next hunting season. The hunting of waterfowl is not supposed to take place if the population is less and as stated in the conservation regulations. The hunting season will commence when the environmental conditions are favorable for the waterfowl to reproduce so that the population can be sustained. 

The waterfowl status is another consideration that has to be considered by hunters. According to the waterfowl, digest (2012), Hunter will only hunt waterfowl after a survey has been conducted, and the estimated population is above the required limit. The federal adaptive management program permit hunting for a period of sixty days with only six waterfowls hunted per day. The permission does not allow the hunters to shoot members of the breeding population or the young ones.

Waterfowl hunters’ requirements

In Minnesota, the waterfowl hunters are expected to be sixteen years old and above and are supposed to carry a valid license that permit them to do the sporting activity. The licenses come in various categories depending with the residents, non-residents, individual, group and the hunting hours. The hunters must be Harvest Information Program certified as they are hunting migratory birds (Krausman &Cain, 2013). The certification requirement is for the waterfowl biologist and United State fish and wildlife service to be in a position of establishing adequate population estimate for migratory waterfowl. The Hunters are also expected to have a firearm and safety license.

Various laws apply for waterfowl hunters in different regions where the activity is permitted. The hunting law does not allow the hunter to use toxic shots. The low considers toxic shots as unlawful to the bird; hence, restrictions are put in place. The hunters are expected to use muzzle-loading shotguns that have been legalized by the United States fish and wildlife in the hunting grounds. The hunting activity has to be done within the specified hunting hours only. The law does not allow shooting of other bird species or animals apart from waterfowl. The waterfowl shares their habitat with other bird species such as atrumpeter swan and tundra. Shooting of other bird species or other wild animals is considered a violation of the regulations and will result to license withdrawal.

The law does not permit the hunters to keep the migratory birds they have just killed, exceeding the daily possession bag limit of six. In case the hunterwound a bird, the law expects the person to take the responsibility of retrieving the injured bird. The law also does not allow the hunters to engage in bird shooting in the open waters (Wells, 2011). Hunting in open water is permitted to a person trying to pursue a waterfowl that has been injured, or the hunter is within natural growing vegetation that concealing. There are hunters that may consider using watercrafts. According to the regulatory requirements, the watercraft must meet the required standards to hunting the waterfowl. The shooting of waterfowl can only be conducted if the watercraft is drifting, moored or anchored in a pole. The hunters are to maintain the hunting zone boundaries by not going beyond the borders (Batzer & Baldwin, 2012). The hunting stations must only have permitted number of hunters at any particular day.  The park or the conservation area should not be crowded at any one given time because this will affect the bird population, feeding and resting time.

Prohibited Hunting Practices

Sports hunting for waterfowl should follow the hunting methods that are acceptable to the legal authorities. The hunters are not expected to engage the use of traps, rifles, explosives, net, snare or gunshots that are not recommended. The hunter should not be concealed in a sink box or shallow floating maneuvers that keep the hunter below the waters. Hunting from a sailboat or a motorboat that is in motion is not acceptable since it will interfere with the feeding and resting period for the birds (Lebbin, Parr, & Fenwick, 2010).

The ammunition such as the short guns should not hold more than three shells and the shots being made should be nontoxic to the bird and the environment. The hunters are not allowed to use live birds as baits to call other birds in the wild. The hunting guideline also does not accept the hunter to use a poisonous bait to trap the waterfowl. The hunter should observe the possession limit, and it should not exceed the possession limit that is acceptable for the state conservation programs (Garone, 2011).   

The waterfowl hunters are expected to collect all the birds hunted and should not leave waste in the field, either wounded or killed during the hunt. The conservation agencies do not permit tagging of waterfowls. The hunter should not leave any bird species in person custody if the bird is not tagged. The hunter must record all the birds hunted and collected in the hunting ground before leaving the site. Hunting of birds in one gathering or stirred up using a sailboat or vehicles. To summarize the hunting requirement and regulations, the hunter should not violate any of the state bird laws (Wells, 2011).

Waterfowl conservation

The population of waterfowl is unpredictable; hence, there is a need to conserve the surviving species and the habitats that are sheltering the birds. The conservation programs by various conservation agencies and biologist in the United States of America and other countries should join hands in managing the waterfowl population. Factors such as global climate change and threats brought about by human activities are to be established and managed so that the population can be maintained.

Countries such as Canada that does not consider the protection of wetlands that are important habitats for the waterfowls should join the global conservation programs. Human activities on the earth surface havegreatly affected the wildlife habitat through land degradation and breeding site habitat loss such as wetland drainages (Krausman &Cain, 2013). The waterfowl population is expected to vary in number depending on the changes in the climatic conditions such as a wetland cycle that is changing through wet and dry seasons. Various conservation programs are addressing the challenges that result from land use and ecosystem changes that are supporting the waterfowl life.

The hunters themselves, through the different fees and licenses that they pay to do the hunting, take part in waterfowl conservation programs. In Missouri, the waterfowl hunters and conservation department always engage in conducting activities that look into the conservation progress of the birds (Perrow & Davy, 2002). The conservation of waterfowls takes into consideration two main approaches. The first approach is through population monitoring of the waterfowl. Second to that, habitat management of the species can be considered in when managing the species. The primary task of the conservation programs is to monitor the species’ interaction and the level of sustainability so that the future generation can enjoy the beauty of waterfowl (MacRae, 2011). 

The conservation programs are not meant to eliminate sport hunting as social activity being carried out by various people. The conservation programs establish hunting seasons when waterfowl hunters are allowed to hunt the birds.  In Florida, the constitution allows the licensed individuals to hunt various wildlife species hence the provision has to be achieved. In North America, waterfowl is highly recognized by the citizens due to the economic value that they offer to the state (Lebbin, Parr, & Fenwick, 2010). Hunters and bird watchers spend most of their precious time with the birds trying to enjoy their beauty and activities. The increase of human activities in the environment has greatly influenced the bird’s population by seeing their number dropping gradually. To ensure the conservation of the birds, all the waterfowl hunters are required by the state to buy the license that allows them to hunt the birds and are expected to follow the ground rules while hunting.

      The United States’ fish and wildlife conservation efforts have collaborated with various conservation programs such as Duck Unlimited and United waterfowls of Florida to drive the conservation practice (Wells, 2011). The organizations have a common goal of harmonizing cooperative ventures and offering technical help to promote understanding of the conservation activity. The conservation programs aim at achieving conservation needs and improving the waterfowl habitats being degraded. The conservation programs are also established to provide leadership necessary to enhance and conserve the existing natural habitats for the waterfowl and other wildlife species so that they do not face extinction. The programs are also aimed at gaining public support for the conservation activity since the public are the ones close to the wildlife (Garone, 2011).

Conservation through habitat management and population monitoring

The act of population monitoring is to track all the waterfowl that are present in the region over time. The population estimate has to be conducted annually so that the hunting period can be stated, and sustainable management program be designed. The accurate data collected are used by the conservationist to know the areas to be given conservation attention. The task of managing the habitat is to create a sound environment that will provide suitable breeding sites and provide adequate resources such as food to sustain the birds’ life.

One of the important habitats for the waterfowl is the wetland. The birds are wetland dependent hence; these habitats need to be conserved by the local population and the conservation programs. The wetland offers breeding habitats for both the migratory waterfowl and the resident waterfowl. In Florida, the Duck Unlimited has played an important role in protecting and restoring some of the lost wetlands as a step to promote the conservation of waterfowl (Perrow & Davy, 2002).

The Duck Unlimited take the responsibility of conserving waterfowl in over fifty states by asking the hunters to take part in the conservation program by hunting within the specified seasons. The hunting activity will only succeed if the population is increased through the conservation programs. Managing wetlands can be a challenging task due to increased human activity in the wetlands. Educating the public on the importance of such habitats is necessary so that the locals can take part in the conservation program. The wetland habitats are not only necessary for the waterfowl but are also crucial for the conservation of other wildlife birds.

Hunting and conservation are both management techniques that are applied in managing the waterfowl population. Through hunting, the population size can be reduced to a manageable size so that the habitat can meet the requirements necessary for the birds. With high populations in a specified habitat, the environmental resources such as food, water or nesting ground can be exhausted (MacRae, 2011). Managing the breeding sites is an important strategy in increasing the birds’ population. The breeding sites, if poorly managed, will affect the future population of the birds and may lead to extinction. The hunting activity should not take place at the breeding sites; therefore, the hunters are expected to avoid the breeding sites so that the birds can lay their eggs and take care of the young ones (Colwell, 2010).

To enforce the conservation programs, various states have adopted strict liability for the offenders that are going against the state regulations. The offenders going against the set standards are prosecuted in the state legal systems and serve as examples to the public. The hunters are tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that they apply only the recommended hunting techniques and are not using baits or other unauthorized practices (Gomez, 1998). The hunter is expected to inspect the hunting ground and eliminate any element that is not accepted on the hunting grounds, and those that are banned by the conservationists.   

Conclusion

 Waterfowl hunters and conservation are both management strategies for the conservation of waterfowls in any part of the universe. The fish and wildlife conservation program and Duck Unlimited have played an important role in conserving the waterfowls (Lebbin, Parr, & Fenwick, 2010). The conservation agencies determine the population and the distribution of hybrid waterfowls so that they can be protected to continue with the raising the population. In zones where the population is deteriorating, the researchers can crossbreed different species of waterfowls so that a much healthier population can be realized (Krausman & Cain, 2013).

Waterfowls are migratory birds; hence, they will not only depend on the established wetland. Some of the birds end up in individual firms where they can start reproducing. The conservation personnel is, therefore, required to liaise with the individual farm owners to take part in the conservation programs (Garone, 2011). The conservation program may be challenging due to the existence of unlicensed hunters, but through population monitoring and management, solutions to the problems can be realized. The conservation practices should consider an advanced scientific approach and enforce the hunters’ compliance with the hunting policies.       

References

Batzer, D. P., & Baldwin, A. H. (2012). Wetland habitats of North America: Ecology and Conservation Concerns. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Colwell, M. A. (2010). Shorebird Ecology, Conservation, and Management. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Garone, P. (2011). The Fall and Rise of the Wetlands of California’s Great Central Valley. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Gomez, G. M. (1998). A wetland biography: Seasons on Louisiana’s Chenier Plain. Austin: University of Texas Press.

Krausman, P. R., & Cain, J. W. (2013). Wildlife Management and Conservation: Contemporary principles and practices.Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press

Lebbin, D. J., Parr, M., Fenwick, G. H., & American Bird Conservancy. (2010). The American Bird Conservancy Guide to Bird Conservation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

MacRae, S. (2011). Waterfowl Hunting. New York: Power Kids Press.

Marchetti, M. P., & Moyle, P. B. (2010). Protecting life on Earth: An introduction to the science of conservation. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Perrow, M. R., & Davy, A. J. (2002). Handbook of Ecological Restoration. Cambridge, Angleterre: Cambridge University Press.

Wells, J. V. (2011). Boreal Birds of North America: A Hemispheric View of Their Conservation Links and Significance. Berkeley: University of California Press.