Some duck discussion

Joe
Albert

Associate Editor

Scaup. A proposal from the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service that would effectively reduce the scaup limit to
one has the waterfowl community abuzz.

While waterfowl professionals are debating the merits of the
scientific model itself, that’s probably too mundane,
inside-baseball type stuff for most duck hunters. The bottom line
for them: Later this month, the USFWS will discuss the proposed
model. If that model is adopted, the result is likely a one-scaup
limit, and perhaps something even tighter.

There’s understandable consternation about that, even within a
community of waterfowl professionals who, you hope, have the best
interest of the resource in mind.

There’s little doubt that the scaup population has seen
long-term declines, even though it remains one of the most abundant
duck species. The question is: How much has harvest contributed to
the species’ decline?

While I tend to be conservative with regards to such matters, I
haven’t seen anything that directly links harvest to the decline
and I have a hard time accepting a one-scaup limit without such
evidence. Just as there should be overwhelming justification for
limit increases, so, too, should there be for limit decreases.
Before dropping the limit to one, I would like to see how much the
scaup breeding population increased when the limit was lowered from
three birds to two a couple of years back.

In my mind, if the scaup limit this fall is reduced to one bird,
it is an unspoken but strong statement by the Fish and Wildlife
Service that the species’ decline, to some relatively great extent,
rests on the shoulders of the guys in camouflage set up over decoy
spreads.

It’s tough to imagine many diver hunters would go to all the
work that would be required for the chance to shoot one scaup. If
they decide to forego hunting, that turns them into bird watchers.
Last I checked, that’s not the group pouring millions of dollars a
year into duck management.

The Fish and Wildlife Service needs to tread carefully here.
Dealing with a declining population of birds for which there isn’t
a large body of knowledge has to be a difficult situation – I’ll
acknowledge that – but, in determining to move toward a one-bird
limit, officials must weigh the benefits to scaup against the costs
to hunters.

Gordie Meyer. Minnesota lost a true champion of
natural resources and conservation earlier this week when Gordie
Meyer died at his home in Burnsville at the age of 73.

Meyer was involved in the Minnesota Conservation Federation in a
variety of capacities for more than 50 years, and his fingerprints
are on a lot of the conservation accomplishments in the state
during that time, but one of his most refreshing traits was this:
You’d never know it from talking to him.

In my conversations with him, Meyer never seemed caught up with
glory or accolades. Friends of his I spoke with echoed the same
thoughts.

Meyer’s funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday at St. John’s
Lutheran Church in Lakeville.

Muskies. If success is defined as fishing long
enough to see the sun rise then fall, or experiencing the emotional
roller coaster that is seeing muskies that ultimately have no
interest in your offerings, then last weekend’s muskie opener can
be considered a success.

If success is defined as fish in the boat, well, that’s another
story. And it sounds like I’m not alone.

Still, I’m confident a good season lies ahead for me and other
suckers muskie fishermen. Since the glass is always half full, I
look at it this way: Muskie fishing is one of the few seasons that
tend to start slow and gain steam as the days go by.

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