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Dennis Anderson: Duck issue hot in Canada

Millions in private and public American dollars have been spent to improve habitat to the north, but numbers are still down. Calls for an explanation grow louder.

Dennis Anderson, Star Tribune


Minnesota has duck problems. But it's not alone. And given that some 70 percent of ducks killed in the state originate their flights elsewhere -- primarily in Canada -- perhaps our duck problems aren't all of our own making.

Such would be one interpretation of a conflict in prairie Canada that has boiled over in recent weeks.


Delta Waterfowl Foundation, a venerable, albeit relatively small, group with roots that extend deep into Minnesota soil, announced in recent days it has been kicked off, essentially, the Prairie Habitat Joint Venture (PHJV) in western Canada.


PHJV is one of various joint ventures that make up the North American Waterfowl Management Plan -- a program developed in the late 1980s to attempt to reverse declining duck populations.


Minnesota, for example, with the Dakotas, Iowa and Montana, form one such consortium, the Prairie Pothole Joint Venture.


But the duck-production action traditionally has been on the Canadian prairies. It's there where, during most of the past century, more than half of the continent's ducks have been produced.


It's there also where PHJV has operated.


Now indications flare up that a lot of money -- some $600 million, perhaps -- has been spent in Canada, ostensibly to benefit ducks, but without much to show for it.


Much of that money has come from American taxpayers in the form of grants under the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA).


With Ducks Unlimited-Canada, the Canadian Wildlife Service and the Canadian version of The Nature Conservancy, as well as provincial and other representatives, Delta Waterfowl Foundation has been a board member of PHJV.


But not a happy one -- at least not in recent years.


In its magazine, Delta has questioned the efficiency of duck-habitat and duck-production efforts of PHJV and, by its own admission, has been a bit of a thorn in the side of other board members.


"We want to be a partner in Canada," said Rob Olson, president of the Delta foundation. "But we have some issues that really need to be discussed, such as, what have we accomplished for $650 million?"


Delta is also a member of the Prairie Pothole Joint Venture, with Minnesota, the Dakotas, Montana, Iowa, Ducks Unlimited and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Olson said significant differences exist between that joint venture and PHJV, primarily that an accounting of habitat and other work done on the U.S. side is readily available.


"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service can tell you where the joint venture has done what, and what's worked and what hasn't," Olson said.


It's no secret that Ducks Unlimited-Canada, which is the major player in the Canadian joint venture, and Delta have scrapped in recent years over a variety of issues.


One need only look at the new Cabela's Waterfowl catalog, the first two pages of which are dedicated to Delta, to gain a sense of the tension .


"Predators are the major factor inhibiting duck production," Delta proclaims, and, "Securing general habitat alone is not enough to increase duck production rates."


Ducks Unlimited might not completely disagree with that, but the group wouldn't advocate those statements, either -- at least not as the top issues facing ducks, which is Delta's position.


(Top DU officials in the United States and Canada were unavailable for comment Thursday.)


Late last year, the Canadian joint venture board developed a "charter" it asked each member to sign. Delta refused, saying it was an effort to keep the group quiet and might also prohibit it in some instances from soliciting contributions.


Additionally, Olson said, Delta believed if it signed the charter it would be endorsing the joint venture's efforts, which it can't do until a full accounting of monies spent on Canadian conservation is made.


Dave Ankney, a retired waterfowl ecology professor at the University of Western Ontario, said he believes only about 350,000 acres have been purchased or secured through easements under PHJV, despite the hundreds of millions of dollars spent.


All of which is important to U.S. waterfowlers because Ducks Unlimited members here send a lot of money north each year to Ducks Unlimited-Canada. And NAWCA funds, contributed by American taxpayers, also go to Canada.


Delta is particularly affected by the conflict because it no longer has a seat on the PHJV board and because the board also has said Delta isn't eligible to receive NAWCA funds (Delta disagrees).


Bottom line: Regardless of who is at fault, if anyone, this matter had better get straightened out quickly. Historically, American waterfowlers have been a generous bunch, contributing to conservation their time and millions of dollars.


But of late they've grown embittered by a lack of ducks, and if they get even a hint their efforts are being wasted, their contributions to Canada -- and everyone involved -- will dry up faster than Saskatchewan's prairie potholes did this last hot summer.

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ehh, money buy land wasn't that the point to preserve the natrual pothole area, and not pay million dollar salires to admins accountants and other people who bleed charities dry.


from what i heard recently ducks are up another 5% this year.


perhaps the real problem is trappers are getting hammered and many fur bearing critters prey on duck eggs and young.


i got out of trapping because all my passed down equipment became illegal and the investment in new stuff was outrageous. still hunt fur but it's not as effective.


so it's all PETA's fault.

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To understand this issue, one needs to read the set of membership rules that were developed by the PHJP, and that every single organization (except Delta) signed onto....


Prairie Habitat Joint Venture Partnership Charter


Final Approval: September, 2005


The Prairie Habitat Joint Venture


The Prairie Habitat Joint Venture (PHJV) is the largest Canadian program under the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, signed in 1986 by Canada and the United States. Participating Canadian public and private agencies make up the Prairie Habitat Joint Venture Advisory Board, which coordinates the regional activities of the PHJV partners. (Prairie Habitat Joint Venture, Prairie Habitat: A Prospectus 1989)


Vision, Mission


PHJV Vision: Healthy prairie, parkland and boreal landscapes that support sustainable bird populations and provide ecological and economic benefits for society. (PHJV Strategic Plan, 2005-2009)


PHJV Mission: The mission of the PHJV is to provide leadership to achieve healthy and diverse waterfowl and other bird populations through conservation partnerships. These partnerships strive for sustainable and responsible management of the landscape taking into account social, economic and environmental factors. (PHJV Strategic Plan, 2005-2009)


PHJV Mandate


The mandate of the PHJV is to:


-Provide strategic direction and set policy in all aspects of NAWMP in the Canadian prairie, parkland, and the western boreal forest;


-Establish and coordinate the regional program, strategic priorities and evaluations;


-Facilitate and promote the integration of NAWMP and other bird habitat conservation initiatives.


-Coordinate programs delivered by partners under the NAWMP umbrella;

-Facilitate sharing of information between partners;


-Determine provincial funding allocations (e.g. for the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) funding);


-Review and endorse PHJV/Boreal NAWCA proposal submissions;


-Ensure that requirements of the International NAWMP Plan Committee, North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI) and North American Wetlands Conservation Council (NAWCC) Canada Councils, and the United States NAWCC Council are met.


Values and Guiding Principles


-An effective Prairie Habitat Joint Venture partnership is fundamental to achieving the PHJV Vision and Mission.


-All partners recognize that the “whole” of the PHJV partnership is greater than the “sum of its parts” in achieving the PHJV Vision and Mission.


-All partners bring value to the PHJV. Each partner’s role in the PHJV is defined (PHJV Strategic Plan, 2005-2009, Draft and PHJV Organizational Structure, below) and those roles are respected by the whole partnership.


-All partners have a responsibility to represent the common interests of the partnership and collectively support the PHJV approach to achieving the Vision, Mission and common goals.


-All partners agree to work towards the common goals of the PHJV, and take ownership of these common goals. (PHJV Strategic Plan, 2005-2009)


-The PHJV represents a wide variety of organizations, some of whom are in competition. It finds and advances the common points of view, but it does not seek to homogenize an organization’s operations or limit their activities outside of the areas of common cause.


-As a member of this partnership, each member is expected to behave, at all times, with professionalism and respect towards all partners and the NAWMP program.


-All partners recognize and respect that individual partners also conduct activities outside the geographic and programmatic boundaries of the PHJV partnership and which may not align with the vision or mission of the PHJV. A clear distinction and understanding of these activities occurs within the partnership and in communication with others.


-All partner arrangements are transparent and partners are treated equally with regard to decision-making within the PHJV.


-PHJV partner communications, messages and reports concerning PHJV initiatives, research projects and other PHJV activities, should be consistent with the positions of the PHJV as agreed to and respected by all partners.


-All partners are respectful of each other when soliciting and competing for funding in support of PHJV programs.


Operational Protocols


Open and effective communication and collaboration amongst partners regarding all PHJV programs (such as PHJV strategic direction, program delivery, policy, evaluations, studies, results, etc.) is key to the success of the PHJV. Communications and collaboration are conducted on an ongoing basis, through a variety of means including: PHJV Advisory Board meetings, Working Group meetings, Committee meetings, science and policy forums, strategic planning sessions, etc.

The PHJV encourages debate and discussion of different approaches, recognizing that these approaches will not necessarily be resolved into common points of view. The PHJV recognizes that we all improve by trying different approaches, debating and learning, which cannot always be molded into a common approach. Some partners have statutory mandates that define their mission; others bring a range of constituencies with different values to the table.


PHJV processes and results are open, however sensitive issues should be addressed internally to develop a common approach/solution before communications occur outside the partnership.


New initiatives, programs and activities will be reviewed and endorsed by the PHJV (through the appropriate committees) prior to launching.


Reviews are conducted as appropriate through the PHJV Waterfowl, Shorebird, Landbird and Waterbird Working Groups, PHJV Policy Committee, PHJV Communications Committee, and endorsed by the PHJV Advisory Board.




Members are added to the PHJV Advisory Board by consensus of the existing PHJV Advisory Board partners and identified in the PHJV Agreement 2005-2019.


Decisions of the PHJV Advisory Board are made through discussion and consensus, or where necessary, by majority vote. Voting members are identified in the PHJV Agreement 2005-2019.


It is recognized that some of the PHJV Advisory Board partners are affiliated to varying degrees with international partners and they are expected to make ‘best efforts’ to have those partners respect the principles of this Charter relative to PHJV activities.


Disagreements amongst partners are addressed in a variety of ways, including through: communications via the PHJV Chair and/or Coordinator; informal discussions amongst relevant partners; discussions at the PHJV Advisory Board, Working Groups or Committees. It is the obligation of the PHJV to render a decision and recommendation respecting all disagreements or grievances between members.


In the event of a breach of the PHJV Charter, resolution will occur at the PHJV Advisory Board. Unresolved issues and/or appeal of decisions may be raised at (NAWCC) Canada Council or (NABCI) Canada Council.


The PHJV Charter will be reviewed and amended as necessary concurrent with the updates to the PHJV Strategic Plan (generally every five years), or earlier as directed by the PHJV Advisory Board.


NAWMP-PHJV Provincial Steering Committees


Alberta NAWMP

Saskatchewan Watershed Authority

Manitoba Habitat Partnership (Saskatchewan NAWMP Committee)

Heritage Corporation


[ 10-16-2006, 03:56 PM: Message edited by: AvianQuest ]

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Here's what I get from it.


Delta spoke up publicly and said, "what do you have to show for all this money that's been spent, other than continually declining breeding populations?"


PHJV scripted the above charter to squelch Delta, stating, "PHJV processes and results are open, however sensitive issues should be addressed internally to develop a common approach/solution before communications occur outside the partnership."


Delta felt that accountability was low, and results were non-existant. They didn't sign the new charter, and were thus no longer a member.


I commend Delta Waterfowl for speaking the unpopular opinion... the dissenting voice.


I thought long and hard over joining Delta or joining DU. Yes, I know I could have joined and supported both.

But Delta seemed to be more focused and more in line with my ideals and principles.

Not knocking DU, I simply chose the one that suited me best.


IMHO, with Delta my dollars are being spent in a manner that's more in line with my perception of what such an organization should be doing to affect waterfowl numbers and to insure the future of waterfowling.


Again, IMHO, DU has become too much of a fat cats club, and a slow moving blight that comsumes everything that is laid before it and then some.

Sort of like Congress.

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Really? I admit up front that I know very little about either organization, but if you go the DU website and see their annual report for 2005, I don't get the impression that the money they are given is being squandered.


Where your DU dollars went (according to their report):

87% - Waterfowl/Wetlands Conservation

11% - Fundraising and Development

2% - Administration and Human Resources


So essentially 13% was used by DU, the company. That doesn't seem out of line in the overall picture, does it? Of course you'd have to see the 87% broken down to ensure they weren't padding their numbers, but assuming they put that 87% back into waterfowl conservation, that's a fairly impressive number.


From their website about 2005:

By all accounts, last year was productive for DU’s conservation business. Our goal was to conserve more than 177,000 acres during fiscal 2005, and we exceeded that goal by 126 percent, conserving more than 220,000 acres across the United States. Tangible results like these, results that you can see, visit and appreciate, make fulfilling DU’s mission worth all the effort.


Doesn't sound like a really bad place, but again, I know nothing about DU or Delta, other than what I've read here and on each of these organizations websites.



Where the DU dollars came from:

32% - Federal and State Habitat Reimbursement

27% - Conservation Easements

25% - Events, Sponsors and Membership

11% - Major Gifts and Endowment

5% - Royalties, Advertising and Other


[ 10-16-2006, 07:30 PM: Message edited by: sdkidaho ]

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Interesting what they consider "conserving wetlands" as well.


A recent project in my area, for example.


Wetlands that were already part of the flood plain from the local reservoir...


Being in the flood plain downstream of the dam, the land could never be developed, farmed, logged, etc. it's simply there, in its natural state. Cattails, lilypads, reeds, marsh grasses, mud flats, creeks, bordering hardwoods, etc.

All in all, this area has held abundant waterfowl and other wildlife for the past 25 years that I've been hunting it... without any assistance from DU or anyone else.

The area holds as many ducks as it will naturally support, and the wildlife are not dependents of handouts and programs from flooded crops, feeding programs, or anything else.

In other words, there was no budget involved in sustaining good numbers of waterfowl in a purely natural setting.


About two months ago, DU comes in and builds a dam on the one and only creek leading into and out of the entire area, thereby shutting off easy boating access to the people who have been hunting it for generations. Locked us out of three nice blinds that we've maintained for a quarter century.

BTW, local blind laws allow them to be hunted by whomever gets there first. So even though we put time, money and effort into their upkeep, they have always been vailable to whomever wanted to use them.


Now, there's a dam blocking the creek and a locked gate blocking the road.

A pump will be installed so that the "management" process can begin :rolleyes:


But here's the cool part.

On the other side of the area, a big prick DU contributor and member just happens to have property which borders these wetlands.

He also leases the only other property that offers any kind of land-based access to the area.


Essentially, he can step out of his cabin's front door and be in the marsh within seconds.

He can launch a boat from his yard, and he has the ONLY roaded access to the entire impoundment.




Now then.

While this falls under the stated 87% "Waterfowl/Wetlands Conservation" in the DU budget, I just have a hard time seeing it as nothing more than a BIG friggin political favor.


This guy is the same azzhole who tacked POSTED signs onto our blinds two years ago.

We had to get the local GW and power company rep. to tell him that he was in the wrong, and that he didn't OWN the land in the floodplain. The land in the floodplain is (was) for mutual public use and benefit.


Well, it looks like he now owns it, for all intents and purposes.


And oh yeah... about three miles up the river from this impoundment there is a State Wildlfie Refuge that used to hold a lot of wintering birds. By a lot, I mean A LOT.

Very limited hunting is allwed on this refuge, and birds have wintered there for years and years under the protection of the state.


Now, that place is drying up due to lack of funding in the state's budget, because the same waterfowlers who give and give to DU pizz and moan over giving an extra nickel to the state's efforts to preserve anything.


I wonder where all those ducks, geese and swans will go, now that their wintering impoundment has ceased being maintained?


If only there were a place nearby that was as rich in forage and as inviting



YEAH, DU has some pretty good lawyers, lobbyists, and accountants.

Just like in the big companies that they run in their everyday lives, they know how to shuffle the books around to paint a picture of efficiency and success.


Just like in Congress, they pander to the big money, the lobbyists, and the special interests of the few, the proud, the wealthy.


I'd like to think that Delta wouldn't do something so underhanded. They seem to be more focused on the real issues affecting waterfowl numbers and not so much on building exclusive duck clubs for their members.


[ 10-16-2006, 09:02 PM: Message edited by: tucker301 ]

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Wow. Yeah, I'm not impressed with that scenario at all. Having public land surrounded by private land -sucks- big time.


We have some nice area's that would be awesome waterfowl, turkey and deer hunting, but they aren't easy to get to unless you have a boat. Maybe that's just my problem, (not having a boat) but it sure sucks that there is public ground, that would be excellent to hunt on, but you can't get to because none of the private land owners want you to cross their ground.


I understand their concerns, strangers on their place, garbage, gates left open that livestock can get out of, etc., but not all hunters are irresponsible.


I really don't like that DU did that to your hunting area. That seems totally wrong. There's nothing you can do, as in speaking with the local Game & Fish to gain access? That totally seems like they screwed everyone but that one guy.

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Oh, there is another way to get in there.

All you have to do is leave your boat on the river bank, hopefully tied off well enough that it


A. Won't sink when the water comes up from generation


B. Won't float up when the water comes up from generation and get staranded high and dry when it comes back down after the gates are shut.


C. Won't get stolen or vandalized while you're away from it.


Once you've done that, you'll need to tromp through knee-deep boot-sucking muck for several hundred yards, cross the creek in two places, that was over our heads last year. Now with the new dam, it should be over Shaq's head as well.


Slough through another couple of hundred yards of waist-deep water and knee-deep mud...

If you're still alive, you'll be at the blind that we used to park the boat next to.


My point is that although DU can list this project as wetlands conservation, it's really nothing more than them doing a member or group of members a favor by creating a heck of a nice shooting preserve for them that restricts access by other hunters, not to mention game wardens.

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I've long held-off from joining a conservation organization. Not because I wasn't concerned, but because DU seemed too much like banquets and stickers and Delta I didn't know enough or see enough about to make an informed decision.


Tucker, you've pretty much confirmed my perception of DU. Maybe it is time that I drop a check in the mail to Delta...

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I have not seen a name assigned to it.

As yet, no sign or marker has been posted.

There was also no mention of it in local newspapers that I'm aware of.


A prominent member of the regional DU chapter told me that it was DU & USFWS.


The contractors putting in the dam told me that they were working for DU.

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  • 4 weeks later...

So Du is nothing but a bunch of money pocketing arses eh ? And doing nothing is better!!!!!!!

it never ceases to amaze me how someone can talk about something they know totally nothing about..

so the DU is surrounded by private land you say ??

Isnt it usually or does DU have to own up to YOUR private land to make you happy?

And them ****ed tickets too.. they should beg on the street ?

Now about the duck population not exploding like everyone wants it to.

c'mon up with you 22 250 and shoot the coyotes, fox and skunks running around my house and wetlands till your gun barrel melts down.


Here is the real problem.. canadian gun laws.

according to the biologist hunting has dropped 6 % a year for 10 year running. The older generation is so afraid to have carry or use a gun they quit hunting. the younger generation is scared they will go to jail if they go buy a gun, and the middle aged are so tired of registering all their guns and when the govt. loses the info off the computor having to RE register and then to go get a box of shells and forgot your FAC and have to drive home to get it just for a box of shells. If you want to buy a gun they are so expensive here you have to sell your dog and for sure ordering it and having it sent is a nightmare taking up to 6 months to get to you..

got the picture yet ?? I know of lots of DU marsh land here for waterfowl that raise and hold a ton of birds, so they must of spent that TICKET money on something..call the office here and ask what YOU can do.. It's on the net..and trust me they hate the laws here more than anyone..

oh and btw. dont come here hunting ducks and geese. more for me..

before you post do your investigating... someone might believe you..

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More of the same?

It was a bit hard for you to know Du facts too, and no i dont supoport them or know how they raise capitol, spend it, what % really goes to waterfowl, or if there are alternatives to DU.. My point is neither do you but you try.

I do see what they have done around here and the thousands of people that come to see the waterfowl from the observatory wont agree they do nothing.


Is that any better?

Oh and staranded is really stranded... your spellchecker missed one..


and do me a favor... dont reply..

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Oh, but how can I not reply?

I mean, you're checking and rechecking this thread, just hoping for one, aren't you?


I've already discussed the facts relating to the DU case in my area. And, yes, they are indeed facts.


If you're really concerned with predation, then Delta Waterfowl is the way to go.


Delta maintains that the reduction of predators on nesting grounds is THE single most important issue to duck numbers.


DU wants to buy up a bunch of land for habitat, which is fine by me.

But DU also does their political favors like the one in my area.


Have a great day, eh.


[ 11-13-2006, 09:45 AM: Message edited by: tucker301 ]

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Another one tangling with Tucker... do you ever get tired of it?


I'm sorry, but I have to agree with Tucker. Your first post is pretty much incoherent. If you have a point, could you put it into two sentences or less? I would like to reply, but cannot seem to string together enough of your words to make an response sensible either.


However, I will say, which seems on-point to your post (I think) that DU has the highest operating costs by percentage than any other conservation nonprofit. Field and Steam did a report on it... about a year ago? I can dig up the issue and page number if the need be. Thanks!

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That's because you're such a ***************.


As for the DU vs. Delta matter, I sent DU an email a month ago asking who I could ask a few questions that I had about DU as I was trying to decide where to become a member. A lady responded immediately telling me that she would answer my questions or have someone else answer them.


No response after I sent in my questions.


I just emailed her again, asking if she could indeed answer my questions, or at least let me know if my questions were to go unanswered. I was polite, but somehow I'm betting I receive no answer.


Now, if I had a million dollars to give them you could bet they'd be rushing to answer my concerns.


Oh, and MbBullet - no one said that DU didn't do anything, there were just questions about some of their practices. Those are fair statements and concerns when one is deciding who to give their hard earned money to.


I'm actually not even sure why you even posted?

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