Monday, March 25, 2013

Element 4: North American Waterfowl Management Plan & Policy

North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP)

In 1985, waterfowl populations had reached record lows and 53% of the country's wetlands had been destroyed. The story was the same across Canada, where wetland loss was estimated to be 29 - 71% since settlement. Waterfowl are the most prominent and economically important group of migratory birds on the continent. By 1985, about 3.2 million people were spending approximately $1 billion annually on hunting alone. Another 18.6 million people had spent $2 billion observing, photographing, and otherwise appreciating waterfowl. 

Recognizing the importance of waterfowl and wetlands on the continent, the United States and Canadian governments worked together to develop a strategy to restore waterfowl populations through habitat restoration, enhancement, and protection. In May 1986 the North American Waterfowl Management Plan was signed in by the Secretary of the Interior for the U.S. and the Minster of the Environment for Canada. In 1994, the NAWMP was updated and Mexico joined the United States and Canada as a signatory. The NAWMP is a partnership based on the joint venture concept, including private, state/provincial, and federal interests. The Plan sets forth 3 main goals for waterfowl conservation:

Goal 1: Abundant and resilient waterfowl populations to support hunting and other uses without imperiling habitat. 
Goal 2: Wetlands and related habitats sufficient to sustain waterfowl populations at desired levels, while providing places to recreate and ecological services that benefit society. 
Goal 3: Growing numbers of waterfowl hunters, other conservationists and citizens who enjoy and actively support waterfowl and wetlands conservation.

In the 1998 update of the NAWMP, the Plan goals were were adjusted to protect, enhance, and restore about 27 million acres. As of 2003, partnerships have invested over $2 billion for waterfowl habitat and conserved over 9 million acres. The 2012 update recommends supplying investment opportunities that give people better opportunities to connect with waterfowl. Additionally, the 2012 Plan establishes a system of management that requires quantifiable objectives, models that connect the objectives to ensure coherence across multiple platforms, and supports monitoring programs that track the progress of these goals.

Tracking the Goals of the NAWMP Through Waterfowl Population Surveys:

Population surveys are implemented to track the status of waterfowl populations. Roughly 50 individuals are charged with the data collection across all four North American flyways. This data is used to determine management plans including bag limits on hunting and habitat protection. Four types of surveys are conducted:

Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey:

This is the most important and extensive of the population surveys. This survey is a cooperative effort between the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the Canadian Wildlife Service, as well as state, provincial, and tribal agencies. This survey covers in excess of 2.1 million square miles off the US and Canada. This survey is conducted by flying a fixed-wing aircraft at low altitudes over transects through waterfowl habitats. Ground crews are also employed to conduct counts in some survey areas.

Wintering Ground Surveys:

This survey provides indices for most species of ducks and geese on wintering areas throughout the US. This survey has been conducted annually since 1935. This survey is conducted within each of the four flyways.

Mexican Waterfowl Survey:

This is a winter aerial survey conducted cooperatively by all three nations included in the NAWMP. Portions of the survey are conducted each year and the entire survey is carried out at 3-year intervals. 

Migration Surveys:

These surveys are conducted during the spring an fall migrations. Again, aerial surveys are conducted over established transect lines.  Specific species are focused on during these migration surveys including sandhill cranes and white-fronted geese.

United States Migratory Bird Joint Ventures:

"A Joint Venture is a collaborative, regionally-based partnership of agencies, non-profit organizations, corporations, tribes, and individuals that implements national and/or international bird conservation plans within a specific geographic area." - Joint Venture Fact Sheet
There are 18 habitat-based Joint Ventures in the United States and 3 species-based Joint Ventures all of which have an international scope. Habitat-based Joint Ventures address conservation issues based on the habitats and bird species found within each specific Joint Venture's area. Species-based Joint Ventures work to further the scientific understanding necessary for the management of specific species or groups of species. Joint Ventures generally work under the guidance of the NAWMP, Partners in Flight, North American Landbird Conservation Plan, US Shorebird Conservation Plan, and Waterbird Conservation for the Americas. 

Adaptive Harvest Management (AHM)

AHM was adopted in 1955 by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and is the annual process of establishing waterfowl hunting regulations. This process is based on resource monitoring, data analysis, and rule making. Data collected from the surveys described above, in addition to hunter questionnaires, is analyzed every year and used to set hunting regulations.

Per, the key components of AHM include:
  1. a limited number of regulatory alternatives, which describe Flyway-specific season lengths, bag limits, and framework dates (earliest opening, last closing dates). These have been established as the familiar Liberal, Moderate, and Restrictive packages in each Flyway
  2. a set of population models describing various hypotheses about the effects of harvest and the environment on waterfowl abundance;
  3. a measure of reliability (probability or "weight") for each population model that provides an indication of how well this model has predicted population change in the past, in relation to other models in the model set; and
  4. an explicitly defined management objective against which the outcome of regulatory strategies can be evaluated.
Johnson, F. A. Adaptive regulation of waterfowl hunting in the U.S.

2012-2013 California Hunting Regulations:

  •  Ducks
    • Limit: 7 per day
    • Possession limit: double the daily bag limit
    • Bag limits by species:
      • 7 mallards (2 females maximum)
      • 2 pintail (either sex)
      • 1 canvasback (either sex)
      • 2 redheads (either sex)
      • 7 scaup (either sex)
      • All other species
        • 7 of either sex   
  • Geese
    • Limit: 8 per day
      • 6 white geese
      • 6 dark geese
        • Except in the Sacramento Valley Management Area where only 2 may be white-fronted geese  

Migratory Bird Treaty Act 1918 

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act implements various treaties between the United States, Canada, Mexico, Japan, and the former Soviet Union for the protection of migratory birds. The Act prohibits the "hunt, take, capture or kill; attempt to take, capture or kill; possess, offer to or sell, barter, purchase, deliver or cause to be shipped, exported, imported, transported, carried or received any migratory bird, part, nest, egg or product, manufactured or not." This act was the first of any kind of hunting regulation and, essentially, put an end of market hunting which had already decimated many species due to the value of their meat or feathers.

'Duck Stamp' Act 1934

Even with the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in place, there was still a rapid decrease in wild ducks and geese. Both over-hunting and impacts on their natural habitat were causing the decline in waterfowl populations.  The Duck Stamp Act was enacted to generate revenue to be used for the protection and restoration of waterfowl species and wetlands. Under the Act, any waterfowl hunter 16 years of age or older must carry the current duck stamp complete with the hunter's signature.

Since 1934, sales of Federal Duck Stamps have generated over $800 million. This money has been used to protect over 6 million acres - 2.5 million of which are in the Prairie Pothole Region. The original duck stamp cost $1. The last price increase brought the price of the stamp to $15.

No comments:

Post a Comment