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It’s hard to believe the statistics, but thorough monitoring has proven that over 3 billion migratory birds, roughly 25 percent, have vanished since 1970. Presently, 70 species teeter on the brink of population collapse, having lost 50 percent or more of their breeding populations in the past 50 years. These species are not yet listed under the Endangered Species Act, but may soon be candidates to join the other 89 species that have been listed as Threatened or Endangered.
Conversely, among migratory bird species, waterfowl have experienced population increases. The authors of the 2022 State of the Birds Report offer that, “Birds are declining overall in every habitat except in wetlands, where decades of investment have resulted in dramatic gains.” Population trends suggest a 1,076 percent increase in geese and swans (7 species), a 34 percent increase in dabbling and diving ducks (22 species), and an 18 percent increase in other water birds (64 species).
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Ducks Unlimited was quick to call attention to conservation wins with Chief Conservation Officer Karen Waldrop pointing to “…decades of collaborative investments from hunters, landowners, state and federal agencies, and corporations.” Wetlands conservation is highly successful for several reasons including myriad funding streams, improvements in water quality, and the adaptability of some waterfowl species that utilize adjacent farmlands and urban landscapes. Additionally, waterfowl management and the support of the waterfowl hunting community put a neat bow on the benefits of the North American Model of Conservation.
Wetland conservation and waterfowl management provide a template for future efforts to maintain bird species and habitats, and the benefits don’t stop at stabilizing bird populations. “The bottom line is that bird conservation benefits everybody: wildlife, people, entire ecosystems, and Planet Earth”, avows the State of the Birds Report.