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Original Issue

The doubtful future of waterfowl is studied by an assortment of experts

As every duck shooter and bird watcher should know, the future of the 48 different species of ducks, geese and swans that frequent the North American continent has become increasingly precarious during the past three decades. The authors of Waterfowl Tomorrow (U.S. Government Printing Office, $4) point out that there is more to the problem than the droughts that dry up the watery nesting grounds in Canada and the U.S. It is not "man versus ducks...nearly everyone likes ducks. Instead, it is that nearly everyone likes dollars more; and society, therefore, condones drainage [of waterfowl nesting grounds] for greenbacks—at the expense of greenheads."

In the preface to this ambitious and comprehensive study of waterfowl breeding, nesting, migration and management, Editor Joseph P. Linduska, formerly chief of Game Management for the Fish and Wildlife Service and at present in charge of wildlife management for Remington Arms Company, writes: "We seek through this book to help all thinking people to a better understanding of the needs of waterfowl and of the things in our way of life that are affecting them adversely." Toward these admirable ends, 103 contributors wrote chapters of the book, each on his own specialty.

The authors discuss some interesting possibilities for the future of waterfowl management. Like certain fish—salmon, steelhead trout and shad—ducks return repeatedly over the same migration routes to the marshes where they were hatched. In drought years such puddle ducks as the mallard, pintail, blue-winged teal and gadwall become "pioneers" and move on to seek new nesting grounds. But many diving ducks, particularly those with strict nesting habitat requirements like canvasbacks and redheads, are "reluctant pioneers," and their numbers are drastically reduced in years when the breeding grounds in Canada and the U.S. are dried up.

A possible solution would be to trap half-grown birds and transplant them to new localities that could be managed by man. Even more fascinating is the possibility of introducing controlled populations of musk-rats, nutrias and beavers to certain marshes where they would serve as animal mowing machines to "manipulate aquatic environments" and improve wetlands for ducks and geese.

Anyone who has thrilled to the sight of a V wedge of honking Canada geese winging high above a marsh or a pair of mallards side-slipping into a stool of decoys should be interested in waterfowl management—and in Waterfowl Tomorrow.