Other species are also having good years. Gadwalls are up 96 percent over the long-term average. Blue-winged teal and green-winged teal are up 94 percent and 74 percent, respectively. Northern shovelers are 92 percent above their long-term average.
Even diving ducks, which require deeper ponds, are seeing increasing populations. Redhead numbers are 89 percent above their long-term averages, and canvasbacks are up 33 percent. And combined lesser and greater scaup numbers are 4 percent above their long-term averages.
Population estimates for some species, on the other hand, remain below their long-term averages. American wigeons are down 17 percent, and northern pintails are down 14 percent.
Hunters, birders and armchair conservationists can support waterfowl conservation by buying a duck stamp every year. Available at larger U.S. post offices, duck stamps cost $15 and are required by anyone who hunts waterfowl. A duck stamp also entitles its holder to free admission to national wildlife refuges.
Created in 1934, the Migratory Bird and Conservation Stamp or the duck stamp, funnels money into the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund. For every dollar raised, 98 cents is used to buy land for the National Wildlife Refuge System. Since 1934 the FWS has collected more than $750 million and purchased or leased more than 5 million acres of waterfowl habitat.
Another way to promote waterfowl and wetland conservation is to support Ducks Unlimited (www.ducks.org). Today, DU membership in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico exceeds 699,000, and its work has influenced more than 108 million wetland acres in North America. Annual fundraisers at the state and local levels include membership banquets, shooting and fishing tournaments, and golf outings.
The single-minded vision of Ducks Unlimited is, "wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever...."
Send questions and comments to Dr. Scott Shalaway, 2222 Fish Ridge Road, Cameron, WV 26033 or by email at sshala...@aol.com.