Har­bour­ing habi­tat

Duck hun­ters sup­port wet­land con­ser­va­tion with va­ri­ety of ini­tia­tives

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - OUTDOORS - ROB OLSON

MOST folks have a pretty good idea hun­ters put ex­tra time and money into sup­port­ing habi­tat con­ser­va­tion, whether it’s putting up a duck nest­ing box or sup­port­ing a fundrais­ing din­ner. But if, as they say, you’re from Mis­souri and are think­ing, “prove it!”, I have a home­grown ex­am­ple. A long-run­ning part­ner­ship be­tween the Delta Wa­ter­fowl Foun­da­tion and the Man­i­toba Habi­tat Her­itage Cor­po­ra­tion (MHHC) has brought more than $10 mil­lion into this prov­ince for prairie pot­hole wet­land habi­tat con­ser­va­tion. That fund­ing has gone to in­cen­tives for farm­ers and other landown­ers to per­ma­nently pro­tect more than 60,000 acres of habi­tat (an area more than seven times the size of Birds Hill Park). This good work be­gins with the Delta Wa­ter­fowl Foun­da­tion, a con­ti­nent-wide char­i­ta­ble or­ga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cated to fur­ther­ing the cause of wa­ter­fowl con­ser­va­tion and wa­ter­fowl hun­ters. Ac­tive for more than 75 years, its roots are an­chored in the fer­tile ooze of Delta Marsh on the south end of Lake Man­i­toba. From those mod­est be­gin­nings, the or­ga­ni­za­tion grew in size and im­por­tance to the point where, to­day, Delta is ac­tive across the U.S. and Canada, sup­port­ing re­search, poli­cies and pro­grams that con­serve wa­ter­fowl and ad­vance the tra­di­tion of water­fowl­ing. Delta’s pres­ence in the United States and Canada al­lows it to be a bro­ker of sorts for wa­ter­fowl con­ser­va­tion. While most wa­ter­fowl hun­ters are found in the U.S., most wa­ter­fowl are pro­duced in the Cana­dian prairies. That re­la­tion­ship has pro­duced a num­ber of fund­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties in the United States, from ded­i­cated water­fowlers on up to the U.S. fed­eral govern­ment, which Delta has been able to tap into and bring home to Man­i­toba. Tim Sop­uck, CEO of MHHC says: “Since 1999, Delta has raised U.S. funds specif­i­cally for wa­ter­fowl habi­tat con­ser­va­tion in our Keystone prov­ince. We call this joint pro­gram Pot­holes Plus.” This is where Man­i­toba Habi­tat Her­itage Cor­po­ra­tion comes in. Es­tab­lished in 1986 by an act of the pro­vin­cial leg­is­la­ture, MHHC con­serves and re­stores habi­tat. It has a net­work of ex­pe­ri­enced staff and has made an im­pact on more than 325,000 acres of habi­tat since be­ing formed, but funds are al­ways an is­sue. Jim Fisher, di­rec­tor of con­ser­va­tion pol­icy says Delta and MHHC have teamed up in a sim­ple, but ef­fec­tive way. “Delta finds U.S. funds that MHHC could not oth­er­wise ac­cess, and MHHC turns that op­por­tu­nity into con­ser­va­tion projects on the ground here in Man­i­toba.” Sop­uck has been known to say, “When you do this stuff, you can’t just raise ducks!” While this con­ser­va­tion is driven by an in­ter­est in wa­ter­fowl, more than 125 species of birds, 16 species of mam­mals and 24 species of rep­tiles and am­phib­ians have been shown to also ben­e­fit by the con­served wetlands and as­so­ci­ated habi­tats. I am go­ing to con­tra­dict my old friend, but just a bit. That’s be­cause Delta Wa­ter­fowl goes the ex­tra mile by spruc­ing up pro­ject ar­eas with hen houses, struc­tures that can raise hatch rates for a nest­ing duck tremen­dously. All said and done, that’s quite a con­ser­va­tion pack­age: prairie pot­holes that ben­e­fit all kinds of wildlife as well as hen houses that help to kick up duck pro­duc­tion. Delta Wa­ter­fowl and MHHC man­age close to 3,000 hen houses in Man­i­toba. Whether you love wa­ter­fowl or you just love to see the bounty of na­ture ex­pressed in a wet­land con­ser­va­tion pro­ject, think about at­tend­ing Delta Wa­ter­fowl’s an­nual Win­nipeg fundrais­ing din­ner Feb. 11 at the Caboto Cen­tre (204-9567766 for de­tails). Un­told num­bers of mal­lards, marsh wrens, muskrats, frogs, sala­man­ders and garter snakes will thank you. Rob Olson is the man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of the

Man­i­toba Wildlife Fed­er­a­tion.

Delta Marsh on the south end of Lake Man­i­toba.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.