Thursday, July 8, 2010

The NRCS Duck Plan: Duck Clubs Win, Ducks Lose

BURAS, LA - JUNE 11: Pelicans with oil on them wait to be cleaned at the Fort Jackson Oiled Wildlife Rehabilitation Center on June 11, 2010 in Buras, Louisiana. It is thought that thousands of birds and other wildlife have been contaminated due to the oil spill. U.S. government scientists today estimated that the flow rate of oil gushing out of a ruptured Gulf of Mexico oil well may be as high 40,000 barrels per day. The oil spill has now been called the largest environmental disaster in American history. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
In an effort to keep waterfowl from progressing all of the way to the gulf coast this winter, the National Resources Conservation Service will spend upwards of $20MM to subsidize private land owners (note: not excluding private duck hunting clubs) to create feeding areas for waterfowl. Ducks Unlimited received a $2.5MM grant to basically conduct similar activity.

While efforts have begun to start transferring the dollars, missing in all of this is a simple ban on hunting on these feeding and "resting" areas. As any Minnesota duck hunter knows, once waterfowl are harassed, they move for peace and habitat - hence our typical poor hunting during week two of our season. Thus, shooting in these areas will force birds directly into the area in which this multi-million dollar program is supposed to protect them from entering.

If the goal was really about protecting the ducks, the money would be spent on baiting public lands and those lands would be off limits for hunting. Since that simple solution has not been followed, what's the real goal? Killing as many ducks as possible since they'll likely die more horrific deaths (and create horrific photo ops) once saturated in oil? Serving to "pay back" those big DU donors and large, well-connected hunt clubs? The theories get more crazy from there, but when a plan like this is so poorly orchestrated, the only thing that makes sense is outlandish speculation.

It has become clear that we now live in an era where it is considered prudent, or even resourceful, to "never waste a good crisis." It is unfortunate that our migrating waterfowl will now be the ones to suffer the consequences of this wasteful, greedy and careless philosophy.

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