The pin­tail prob­lem

In North Amer­ica it has been la­belled the ‘pin­tail prob­lem’, a sig­nif­i­cant de­cline in the flock across all four fly­ways and a re­stric­tive one pin­tail per day limit in re­sponse for the 2017–18 sea­son. It is a fa­mil­iar tale that echoes our own ex­pe­ri­ence in

Field and Game - - NEWS -

Ac­cord­ing to Delta Wa­ter­fowl, the USFWS Breed­ing Pop­u­la­tion and Habi­tat Sur­vey re­veals that pin­tails and the pond count “… were both tremen­dously high in the mid1950s, fell in the early 1960s, rose in the mid-1970s and dipped dur­ing the hor­rid 1980s drought.”

Fol­low­ing the drought, the pond count was well above av­er­age in the late ‘90s but pin­tails floun­dered while other species flour­ished.

More re­cently, wet con­di­tions have not helped the pin­tail, which pre­fer shal­low wa­ter, and shift­ing agri­cul­tural prac­tices have also im­pacted nest­ing cover. Pin­tails nest away from wa­ter mak­ing them vul­ner­a­ble to pre­da­tion.

In a spe­cial re­port, Delta Wa­ter­fowl out­lined wetland pro­tec­tion, avail­abil­ity of habi­tat, wa­ter and pre­da­tion as the pri­mary driv­ers of pin­tail de­cline and ar­gued a re­stric­tive bag limit was an un­nec­es­sary re­sponse.

“I think it’s en­tirely un­war­ranted,” Dr Frank Ro­hwer, pres­i­dent and chief sci­en­tist of Delta Wa­ter­fowl said. “There’s no data to sug­gest that hunter har­vest is hav­ing any ef­fect on the size of the pin­tail pop­u­la­tion. A two-pin­tail daily limit has been tol­er­ated in the past, so un­less drought causes a ma­jor de­cline, I think that’s a pretty rea­son­able num­ber.”

The ar­gu­ment is bol­stered by re­search from Univer­sity of Ne­vada-reno PH.D. can­di­date Ben Sedinger that sug­gests hunt­ing’s im­pact on duck pop­u­la­tions is even lower than pre­vi­ously thought. “It’s es­ti­mated that 35 per cent of pin­tails die in a given year from all causes, in­clud­ing the ap­prox­i­mately one to seven per cent that are shot,” Sedinger told Delta Wa­ter­fowl. “Ad­di­tion­ally, if we re­duce the num­ber of pin­tails har­vested, roughly 35 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion will still die in a given year. It’s just that more will die of star­va­tion, dis­ease and get­ting eaten (by preda­tors). Har­vest may be an easy vari­able to man­age, but fine-tun­ing the daily bag limit from two to one is very likely fu­tile. “Un­less pin­tails re­place that 35 per cent ev­ery year (through pro­duc­tion on the breed­ing grounds), the pop­u­la­tion will still de­cline.”

Fol­low­ing five years of de­clines, the 2017 sur­vey shows pin­tails have in­creased 10 per cent to 2.89 mil­lion, but they re­main 27 per cent below the long-term av­er­age.

Be­cause an adap­tive har­vest model is in place the reg­u­la­tor has al­ready re­sponded to the 2017 sur­vey, an­nounc­ing a bag limit of two pin­tail per day for 2018–19, a full year be­fore the sea­son.

Delta Wa­ter­fowl, Ducks Un­lim­ited and other wa­ter­fowl or­gan­i­sa­tions con­tinue to fo­cus on man­age­ment, habi­tat, wa­ter and pro­mot­ing breed­ing suc­cess as the best way to make a pos­i­tive im­pact on pin­tail re­cov­ery. “Ex­ten­sive North Amer­i­can re­search has shown that con­ti­nen­tal duck pop­u­la­tions are pri­mar­ily in­flu­enced by con­di­tions on the breed­ing grounds and that reg­u­lated har­vest is largely com­pen­satory,” Delta Wa­ter­fowl CEO Dr Scott Petrie said. “It is also well known that hunter par­tic­i­pa­tion de­clines when duck num­bers de­cline, thereby mak­ing it un­nec­es­sary to re­duce bag lim­its. Pro­vid­ing un­nec­es­sary bag re­stric­tions serves to re­duce par­tic­i­pa­tion and can re­sult in de­clin­ing hunter num­bers and our big­gest con­cern in North Amer­i­can is with de­clin­ing hunter re­cruit­ment, be­cause it is hunters that pro­vide the bulk of the con­ser­va­tion dol­lars nec­es­sary to con­serve wa­ter­fowl and the wet­lands that they re­quire.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.