The week in review

Joe
Albert

Associate Editor

Iowa and ducks. A trip down to, or back from,
southern Iowa affords a person plenty of time to ponder and
reflect. This is what I came up with: If ducks are in trouble, it’s
their own fault.

Here’s why:

As we stood along the shoreline of the Mississippi River on the
Illinois side, researchers put a band on a male scaup that was
removed from a trap just minutes before. They released the bird
soon after.

Minutes later, the same bird was back in the same trap, lured by
the same yellow corn. Perhaps if ducks were smarter, they could
save themselves, and not rely on us to spend millions to make their
habitat better.

In all seriousness, I think that isolated incident nicely
illustrates a point: Whether it’s smarts or, more likely, instinct,
ducks go where they can get food.

If the food isn’t in the ponds and wetlands, ducks aren’t there
either. We can do all we want to understand the particulars of duck
behavior – I’m not here questioning that need – but how does what
we’re learning from the research balance with the what we’re
losing, and have lost, in habitat?

China. Was at the deer shack last weekend
enjoying the usual blend of seclusion, campfire, and smart talk.
One of the people there was a guy from China, who was in the United
States for a week with another guy who comes to camp.

He was from a city near Shanghai and telling us about how many
people lived in that city and his. It’s millions, though how many
millions depends on your definition of where the city starts and
ends.

The numbers were pretty staggering, and got me thinking about
what this state will look like in the future. While cities here may
never have populations as dense, there’s no doubt we’re growing at
a steady clip. Without foresight in terms of funding and land
planning, it will continue to get harder and harder to accomplish
that which you go to places like deer camp for – to get away from
it all.

Moose. You probably saw the news that moose
numbers in the state have fallen. The population in the northwest
is nearly gone, and surveys and a five-year study show the
population in the northeast is heading that direction.

Moose are an icon of the North Woods and news that, A) their
populations are declining, and B) researchers aren’t sure why, is
deeply troubling. It’s easy to speculate on possible reasons, and
it’s unlikely there’s only one reason they’re struggling, but we
need to work tirelessly until we can pinpoint a reason and figure
out a way to remedy the situation.

Funding for the northeast moose study runs out at the end of the
year, and, to me, it’s an absolute no-brainer that DNR, Fond du Lac
Band, and 1854 Treaty Authority must find funding to continue that
study and, preferably, to expand it. While throwing money at a
problem and conducting endless studies isn’t the entire answer,
it’s as good a place to start as any. Anything less than an
aggressive approach to trying to solve this problem is
unacceptable. We’ve lost enough in this state and don’t need to add
moose to the list.

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