Megaduck contest a no-go

Associate Editor

Amid criticism from waterfowling groups and individuals, an
organization from Texas known as the National Waterfowlers Registry
has canceled sponsorship of a contest that would’ve paid duck
hunters up to $1 million for shooting ducks sporting specific
bands.

In a letter posted on its web site last week, the NWR says the
Megaduck Challenge was challenged by the U.S. Department of the
Interior. The NWR says a department memo stated the contest “would
increase the reporting rates of the harvest of banded birds which
would cause the Department of the Interior to engage in yet another
costly series of studies to determine the magnitude and duration of
the Megaduck Challenge’s effect on reporting rates “

Ken Lowery, of the NWR, earlier said the intent of the contest
was for the good of waterfowling. He said the contest would
encourage duck hunters to better learn duck identification, and to
shoot drakes. He said the group had hoped potentially gathering
more bands put on ducks by the U.S. Geological Survey, a division
of the Interior department would help the feds’ information
collection.

In its letter posted on the web, the NWR states: “We had no idea
that our Megaduck Challenge would harm current monitoring programs.
We were seeking to augment current programs, not frustrate them. We
do not fully agree with the statements by the Department of the
Interior, but we are not currently in a position to refute the
assertions they have made Because of the response of the Department
of the Interior, we at National Waterfowlers Registry feel that we
have no alternative other than to withdraw our sponsorship of the
Megaduck Challenge effective immediately “

The web site Waterfowler.com had been critical of the contest,
suggesting the contest would skew federal data. Several initial
supporters of the contest had withdrawn their backing, and some of
the larger waterfowling organizations in the U.S. including Ducks
Unlimited and Delta Waterfowl had refused to advertise the contest,
Waterfowler.com reported.

Under the terms of the contest, 64 bands numbers would be picked
randomly from drake ducks evenly distributed in the four North
American flyways. Four of those ducks one in each flyway would have
a band worth $250,000 in cash. The remaining 15 in each flyway also
would carry a prize value.

Lowery said the NWR wants to provide waterfowlers in the U.S.
with a broad range of unbiased information regarding waterfowl
hunting. Its web site proclaimed the NWR as “one of the
fastest-growing, member-driven waterfowling groups in the U.S. NWR
was established for duck hunters by duck hunters to support
waterfowling in North America.” Lowery said the group had been in
existence a little more than a year.

According to the NWR’s web site, the group will continue to
discuss contest options with federal officials, “and if we are able
to come to an agreement concerning the efficacy of the Megaduck
Challenge, we may reinstate the program in the future. We apologize
for not being able to go forward with what we considered to be a
viable waterfowler education and conservation program.”

Calls to the NWR were not returned earlier this week.

Editor’s note: Outdoors writer Mike Schoonveld’s opinion piece
on the Megaduck controversy in this issue of Outdoor News (Page 4,
Section B) went to press before the NWR posted its decision to
cancel the contest.

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