Decline of waterfowl hunters bad news for conservation: Delta Waterfowl
WINNIPEG, MANITOBA — The dramatic decline in the number of waterfowl hunters in Canada is threatening waterfowl conservation, warns Delhi Waterfowl.
Although some people may oppose hunting, there’s no denying the respected work of groups such as Delta Waterfowl toward conservation efforts, both in terms of habitat protection and wildlife research.
Since the 1970s, waterfowl hunter numbers have dropped precipitously across Canada, particularly in Western Canada. Hunter numbers peaked in 1978 when more than 505,000 waterfowl permits were sold nationwide; in 2005, according to the Canadian Wildlife Service, that number had fallen to a paltry 134,910.
“Because hunters are leaders in the conservation of wildlife habitat, the decline in participation of waterfowl hunters is a crisis for wildlife conservation in Canada,” said Delta Waterfowl President Rob Olson. “When you lose that many hunters, you lose your political voice, and when you lose your political voice, your influence on conservation and hunting issues is greatly diminished. We’ve learned that the hard way the last couple of years, but we’re actively trying to reverse the trend by bringing more hunters — youth and adults, men and women, girls and boys — into our ranks.”
Indeed, as the hunting season begins in earnest across Canada, Delta Waterfowl and myriad partners are working to increase hunting participation and restore Canada’s storied waterfowling culture. Olson says Delta’s mentored waterfowl hunting program, which began in 2000 (in partnership with the Manitoba Wildlife Federation and the Manitoba provincial government).
In addition, and throughout the fall, Delta and its hundreds of volunteers and partner organizations are providing nearly 40 mentored hunting opportunities across Canada, including 17 in Manitoba alone. Although most are youth hunts, Olson says some will focus on university students and other adults. Olson says the mentored events feature firearms instruction, waterfowling skills training, conservation and nature-appreciation education, game preparation, and more.
“We’re developing safe, ethical and well-rounded waterfowl hunters and conservationists, who understand that we have a responsibility as hunters to make sure that waterfowl and their habitats are conserved forever for future generations to enjoy,” Olson says. “We are lucky to be living in a country where our individual lifestyle choices are respected but we have to make sure that we are putting back more birds than we take each fall.”
SOURCE: Delta Waterfowl