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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was reading a chapter on extinction over the weekend (Rosenzweig 1995 Species diversity in space and time) and came to a very interesting passage regarding the extinction of the passenger pigeon.

Many believe that relentless market hunting exterminated the passenger pigeon. Or that it couldn't survive its need to rest in huge colonies. But the basic cause, the underlying signal of doom, was its loss of forest habitat. Man, in need of land farms, cut down the mast-bearing trees, especially beeches and oaks, that kept pigeon populations so astronomical that no amount of hunting or trapping would have harmed them. The passenger pigeon lost in its competition with man for habitat.

That is not to say we hunted them to no effect. Perhaps they could have survived as a scarcer species had we not seized them and shot and trapped them so relentlessly. We do know their population declined in the hundred years preceding 1870. They stopped nesting in Ohio, for example by 1838 (Schorger, 1995). Schorger believes, however that the freefall to extinction really took place from 1871 to 1880. The army of market hunters, called pigeoners, grew immensely and found no way to prevent its own demise. Using the latest technology (the telegraph), it followed pigeon flocks for hundreds of miles. 'The fewer the pigeons, the more persistently they were hunted. A flock was reported … at Racine, Wisconsin, on 11 September 1885, and within an hour 500 men with shotguns were headed for the locality.' Schorger, 1995).


So after reading that passage (and having the hair stand up on the back of my neck especially in regard to the telegraph insert internet), it got me to thinking about guides/outfitters and their new version of market hunting. Is history repeating itself in the regards to the overharvesting of waterfowl in the name of the almighty dollar? The G/O and tourism groups do little to nothing in efforts to promote habitat, but yet they tout economic development as their savior. A local ND guide marketing his services on ebay boasts of shooting over 1,400 ducks last year alone. Now I am not saying that any species of waterfowl is going extinct, however, certain species are in decline and the canvasback has never recovered. So in this context, how can anyone make the argument that guides/outfitters are not causing irreparable damage to the resource.

I am interested in hearing your thoughts.
 

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Bioman very disturbing relavations of how communitcations of today and yesteryear can and do influence harvest of natural resources. Most G/O advertise numbers of successful shooters based on limits reached or tags filled. Some even boast of the total kill for a year. This has driven many to come to partake in the bounty. Howver the blame does not stop there. Most of us can be blamed for the cause ourselves in making statement about filled limits in minutes or etc. I see where on some boards many where hoping to harvest 200 ducks this season.

With population levels being advertised at being at all time highs and increased pond counts of 30 plus percent expectations are being pushed and disposable dollars are being spent to satisfiy those expectations. Then add in the television shows that are done with G/O showing ducks and geese just pouring in to the decoys and the bar raises higher allowing even more exploitation.

I talked to a number of hunters this weekend that where complaining about the fact it took them until noon to fill a six bird limit, when in the past they where done by 9 or 10. This was not the case of all hunters but the majority came in excepting black sky's of waterfowl. Most all made comments about the population reports and wondered where all these birs where.
 

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Ron,
I think the majority of hunters do expect to come to ND and shoot a limit of birds and are dissappointed when they don't. I myself am probably guilty of highlighting some of the great hunts we have had this season and not exposed some of the hunts that have not been as good.
We have had hunts that are not as productive in terms of birds bagged but I enjoy those hunts as much as when we shoot full limits. Really for me it comes down to spending time in the fields and enjoying the outdoors and I wish that more people would highlight that aspect of hunting.
I agree with Bioman that the internet has had a huge effect on hunter expectation and their increasing willingness to travel and move to the best areas. What those effects will ultimately have on the resource are difficult to quantify but I do believe they have an effect on harvest rates.
 

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Do we all believe that Biologists makeing recomendations on bag limits are making those recomendations based on economics and not sound species management? If that is the concern then the emphasis should be put on bag limits not on hunters. How can we fault someone for shooting a limit?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Maybe I am overly sensitive, but I thought this topic would have spurred a lot more response. A couple more things to consider, population estimates for the passenger pigeon ranged from 3 to 5 billion and many in the scientific community feel that number is more likely to be an underestimate than an exaggeration. For comparison purposes, estimates of all other breeding bird species in the United States equal about 5.7 billion birds. So imagine if you will that one of every two birds was a passenger pigeon. Market hunting and removal of habitat caused this bird to go extinct.

Now flash forward to present day scenario, you have G/Os who are nothing more than professional market hunters out there killing hundreds of thousands of birds a year. If we simply take the example I listed above where one guide operation killed 1,400 birds, imagine the destruction that the 300 or so in ND are doing to the resource. In the purely hypothetical scenario, lets say the average ND G/O kills 1,000 ducks, that is 292,000 removed from the ND breeding grounds alone. Now amplify this by the amount of G/Os operating in each flyway (and don't forget the fact that they are usually tying up the best available lands) and you have a very good definition of cumulative impact. Once again, don't lose sight of the fact that these professional market hunters are doing little to nothing to improve habitat, rather they are simply profitting off of the take of a species.

So I'll ask another way, is this exploitation of a public trust resource in the name of economic development good for anyone?
 

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Bioman,

As always, great stuff.
The explosion in ND NR hunting mirrors the growth in online hunting forum use.

Shorthair,

Shooting a limit? Face it, waterfowl would become extinct in North America this year if every fowler shot half a limit on every other day of the season. Managers know that most folks don't hunt that hard or much - they count on it. However, some legislators want to encourage it for the $$$$. What a sorry contempable lot they be. G/O just exacerbate the already poorly controlled problem.

The problem is that technology, and growing disposable income, is changing hunter behavior much faster than biologists and mangement types can predict. Moreover, when they see the problems on the horizon the legislators prevent them from implementing the necessary changes. The very fine G&F folks (with standing those at the top) make excellent suggestions that the short-sighted legislators oppose.

We can "fault someone for shooting a limit" within the regulations all the way into extrinction.

M.
 

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MRN,
The fact is everyone does not and cannot shoot a limit of ducks every other day and that is factored into harvest limits.
How many ducks do you think are killed by hunters both resident and non-resident that don't use a G/O? I would venture to guess much more than guides or outfitters are responsible for. Is this an argument about limits or an argument about outfitters? I beleive a point brought up in the original post is the most important. It is the loss of habitat that is crucial to the success of all wildlife in this country. You can't grow ducks, geese, deer ....in places converted to strip malls and housing developments.
 

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Shorthair

While habitat loss is not being overlooked the idea that we have instant access to events worldwide or locally is the key issue that is driving the huge influx of hunters to the ND PPR and with it comes the problems that other states have and what they are trying to get away from. In this attempt we are know seeing the same problems here.

I was doing some reading about theMoutainmen and the changes that came to there world. We in ND are facing the same loss of a way of life and a heritage that should not be taking place. The moutain men where the cause of there own loss for they showed the way to the moutains for the johnny comelately types.

in the winter of 99-00 and 00-01 we saw the same thing happen with the perch fishing on many small lakes in ND. Flood and Diamond north of Kulm. Alkiine by Streeter. even the Res by Jamestown. We saw people driving great distances to get there piece of the pie with know regards to the long term effects it would have. You could go to Flood and catch huge numbers of 10" plus perch but in less than 6 weeks if you caught a few in a day it was a good day. Crappies where plentiful and easy to catch on Jamestown Dam and Pipestem, they have been hard to come by since.

This was caused by the williness of us to share and exploited by those that simply wanted to profit and hog resoures. I have yet to figure out why someone would need 25 gals of perch or crappies.

We are all to blame but the simple fact remains that G/O advertise and seek those wanting to always think they are entitled to reach a limit for the most part. The USFWS with there skewed reports and liberal limits are also promoting the idea that limits should be had everyday. Would taking 4 birds be a less quality day than taking 6? Not by my standards but to many satifaction and hunting quality are based on numbers shot not experieences had.
 

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I think the statement, "But the basic cause, the underlying signal of doom, was it's loss of forest habitat." is the most powerful part of the article.

It's like the present state of affairs with our pheasant and deer numbers. We're shooting more each year recently and the population continues to increase. In large part due to favorable weather but also due to increases in habitat.
 

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This topic needs another look. Sunday morning I had breakfast with two old waterfowl hunters, long retired from the sport. They spoke of the abundance of birds, lots of habitat, and talked about the ease of access and lack of posting. It is different now.

We may have an abundace of birds and nesting habitat thru CRP but they are not showing up. Was it just in my county? They just didn't show compared to years past. The one flock of SOBs that came early lasted 2 days because they were hounded by hunters with cell phones. Instant com.

Last year the DL folks complained about fewer hunters shorting their season, but I'm wondering if there is a wall of aggressive waterfowlers just this side of Canada deflecting the birds over us? If SOBs can learn the ropes and cranes too, why not ducks? These guys don't have to be elbow to elbow, but if they were mobile (cell phone-internet) and persistant (paying thru the nose-gotta get our moneys worth), would it change the flight? If G/Os are racking up the scores they advertise by churning clients thru the system could it not alter the bird numbers retained at any given spot in ND? Market hunting did exactly that in the past.

No doubt loss of habitat declines a species, but look at the oceans. Same amount of water--lots fewer fish, lots fewer cetaceans. Market hunting under whaleing and long line netting is having the same effect. Market hunting might be the predator that is grossely under estimated.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Dick:

How timely, I have been working on some extinction modeling for a small population of a threatened mouse in Colorado.

In extinction theory, you have basically two paradigms: a declining population, and the small population.

If we know that our population is declining (e.g., the intrinsic growth rate is negative - or think of a negative interest rate on your savings), we can use the following formula (which is simple and very easy to use):

Te = (log K)2/Vr

Te = time to extinction
K = carrying capacity
Vr = variance
2 = squared

In most bird species, the observed variance is typically around 0.3 to 0.4, so if we know the carrying capacity of a species that is declining, we can readily make a conservative estimate of time to extinction.

I just happen to have the latest copy of Delta Waterfowl handy, so I looked up last year's estimated mallard population, which was forecast at 7,590,000 and assumed this as K.

So for my simple model, I will set the value of 7,590,000 as the carrying capacity, and assuming a Vr = 0.4... (and if I did my math correctly) would show this species going extinct in approximately 627 years.

All right, let me hear from you naysayers!

One other thing to ponder, what affect are the market hunters really having on the population? No one really knows for sure, but it isn't that hard to imagine that there are several thousands working in the 4 flyways causing irreparable damage to the populations. Also, what if the species became inflicted with an unknown virus that resulted in death? Add in the effects of overharvesting by market hunters and their slob clients, and then 627 years isn't really that hard to visualize!
 

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Man, what a great conversation going on in this post. I am reading it and love the fact that I am being informed and educated at the same time. It is great to hear some facts, and not just speculation. Excellent thread going on here, I wish I could add something, but I will leave that to the informed sources. Lets keep these positive/informative threads going, we need to come together in the next year and a half, and let our voice be heard. Everything going on now has erupted from the Farm Bureau and a few business', spinning a brotherhood of hunters, into a fight between residents, NR's and landowners. It isn't about us, it is all about the money now, the participants are expendable. We haven't asked for anything new. The only thing we ask is not to be trampled under foot as the these business' run to the bank. This state isn't the same anymore, hell, the world isn't the same anymore. Sorry if we have to use the means at our disposal(legislation), but we are fighting for our hunting life. No offense intended towards NR's, I have hunted and will continue to hunt with old friends and new, who have traveled great distances for something they love. If we can hold the advance of hostile takeover, we have won a small victory in this huge battle. I just want to hunt, I want my kids hunt, I want my grandkids to hunt, I want to be part of it all. I love waterfowl hunting, I hope my children will as well. The light I see at the end of this tunnel is fading fast, and we can not sit back and be taken advantage of anymore. It is time to be on our best behavior; always asking persmission, leaving a field better than we found it, saying thank you, even if the answer is no. We need to make sure everyone knows that we haven't changed, someone else has changed. So, make sure when you go out this fall, hunt hard and play fair. Everyone appreciates a humble and curtious person. Lets work to bring back our image, the image that has been tarnished through negative propaganda. Lets do it boys, time to get off our butts.

Brian :sniper:
 

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I will add three comments to the existing posts. First, existing limits are set by USFWS in conjunction with the state biologists for each flyway. It is intended to meet population goals for each species but as we have seen in the past, politics driven somewhat by economics sometimes interferes with good management practice (witness the southern states requests for extended seasons in the Mississippi flyway). Second, although bioman's equation is correct, is the carrying capacity = number of mallards? Only by assuming that all the available habitat has mallards. When the CRP program was established, the amount of available nesting habitat for mallards increased. Third, in addition to the simple model, one must be aware of the effects of recruitment of new birds to the population; predation, changes in water, changes in habitat, and other factors. If we continue to put more pressure on the resource (e.g. number of hunters increases), and the ability of the resource to replenish itself remains the same, then the population will decline.
 

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I do not have time to argue nor would I argue about the merits and/or faults of a Wildlife Biologist's population dynamics models.

I will make a few comments though.

There are guides in Louisiana that harvest over 6000 birds per season and the state of Louisiana often shoots over 2,000,000 birds per hunting season. The impact from this part of North America is still 3x greater than ND.

The wintering grounds are also very important to waterfowl (many species spend more time in LA than ND, pairing often begins, birds put on weight before their northern migration, etc.). So as we pressure these birds in the South until Jan 31 vs the old Jan 16 - does this weaken the overall health of duck populations?

It is (should be) the USF&WS primary position to protect the resource first. If the population is in a declining position (loss of habitat via drought, hunting pressure?), then the USF&WS should have enough conviction to reduce hunting pressure (if that is a factor) by decreasing limits and or season length.

Does Governmental politics makes this hard to do?

If the Central Flyway begins to harvest more ducks than the MS flyway than they should repond by decreasing season length and/or limit size on the Central flyway. Correct me if I am wrong, but many waterfowl biologists believe season length is the greatest factor on hunting pressure.

What is the total harvest of waterfowl? As ND's duck harvest has increased have other states seen a corresponding decrease?

Manage the resource like the resource behaves - balance the harvest, the regulations, etc... across all of North America ... not locally.

A four duck / four mallard limit in ND would be fine with me. Maybe guides will lose a few greedy guests to Mexico or Argentina.
 

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Field & Stream had an interesting article in its last issue about this topic. According to F&S, waterfowl are in great peril right now not because of overhunting, but rather because of habitat destruction--particularly drained prairie pothole wetlands. The US Fish & Wildlife Service predicts that there will be NO hunting season for waterfowl in the near future if the Bush Administration succeeds in its efforts to rewrite the Clean Water Act and Department of Agriculture appropriations reauthorization. The Clean Water Act used to prevent farmers from draining certain types of prairie pothole wetlands (which are crucial for duck breeding and nesting) while the Dept. of Ag. offered financial incentives to farmers to leave these areas alone. The Bush Administration has rewritten both pieces of legislation to eliminate protections for potholes and has eliminated the financial incentives to leave them alone.

The lesson I take from this is that we hunters had better get our butts to the polling booths next November and kick Bush out of office. I've never understood why hunters usually vote republican just because they mistakenly think that party is more interested in protecting gun rights than democrats. Everyone is free to choose, but what are we going to hunt if the republicans keep destroying habitat? We might as well all become target and trap shooters exclusively.
 

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Not to cover ground that has been beaten to death, but the results of the change in the Clean Water Act came about not because of Bush making a sweeping change when he took office, but was the result of having to satisify a Federal Court ruling on the scope of control of the Army Corp of Eng. The lawsuit that triggered this was brought by the all or nothing crowd on the extreme left. They challenged the reclamaiton of an abandoned gravel pit in IL.

Next I agree with going to the ballot box, but one must go in informed. The current Sen and Leg collalition from MN, ND, IA, NE, KS, MO are promoting the expansion of ethanol, and at the same time stipped the enforcemnt funding for the current Swampbuster provisions and a change in use of newly drained wetlands. THese provisions where introduced and supported manily by Dorgan, Dashle, Conrad, Peterson, and Harkin.

You cannot continue to allow wetland drainage then reward that action with federal farm money for those acres. I am not promoting the elimination of the farm program, but I am supporting limiting new money for newly drained wetlands. Our state currently does not have a clear defined wetland policy and it is unlikely that we will get one in the near future. SD does but the FB is challenging that in court and IA has all but drained away there future the same as MN.

One cannot look at party lines for relief for these issues, but one needs to look at the induvidual, plus one needs to look at more than single issues when going to the ballot box. We are currently fighting a international terror threat. Should we remove a strong defender of our nation from terror to be replaced with a person that may endanger the national security for votes and power? What good are wetlands if our way of life is gone?

I have done a lot of reading and research on renewable energy, national security,enviromental protection and IMHO you need a give and take aproach and the current climate is not there. We have reached a point of a political quagimre.

Wetlands and ducks are not on the minds of people in New York or Los Angles or Chicago. Terror attacks and jobs are what is on there mind.
For the elected officals from the heartland it is what can I give to my state voters to get elected again. In CA it is creating jobs. MI, OH, IL it is the same. Does wetland retention rate high on the list for the Reps from thise states?
 

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Here's the actual story if you care to check it out for yourself:

http://www.fieldandstream.com/fieldstre ... 91,00.html

From the article: The first event occurred in January 2001, when the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the Clean Water Act did not protect "small isolated wetlands." Specifically, it said that the Army Corps of Engineers' 30-year-old interpretation that Congress intended to include such habitat was in error. Conservationists were shaken by the ruling, yet optimistic that President Bush would seek to remove the threat to duck hunting by supporting the Clean Water Authority Restoration Act (see sidebar at left), a bipartisan bill that would end the crisis by simply stating that Congress wanted the potholes protected.

Then, in January of this year, the Bush administration not only failed to seek such a remedy but also increased the threat by calling for a new definition of wetlands-one that specifically excluded small, isolated areas. The implication of those events shocked the waterfowling community because the protection of these key duck-breeding grounds now rests solely with a provision in the farm bill that's known as "Swampbuster," an effective but voluntary program that pays subsidies to farmers who don't drain wetlands.

"It means the future of duck hunting is down to its last line of defense," says Reynolds. "If there is any break in protection now, we could lose 50 percent of the potholes we have left."


As for political preference, all I can say is I'm glad I live in a country where we can express our differences in a semi-public format. That being said, I don't believe this Administration is making us more secure, but rather less so. We were led into war under false pretenses and are now stuck in a deadly and expensive quagmire with no exit strategy, no Saddam, and most importantly, no bin Laden. And to argue that Bush is creating more jobs is complete fallacy. Check out the economic statistics. Millions of jobs have been lost since the irresponsible tax cuts were enacted.
 

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I would rather keep this thread about Market hunting and the effect it will have on our future and our childrens future. We can start a new thread under the Conservation Forum to debate the above stated issues.

Having read many posts on other forums on the biology side of the limit standards and many written by those gathering and interping the numbers. I have gotten the feeling that economics has and will drive our seasons until we see a startling numbers drop.

Liberal limits and publication of noncurrent data have led to an above average expectation of birds in the bag. ND finally did a fall pond count showing the huge drop in water across most of ND from the June brood counts. However this was done during hunting season instead of before. They did state in the USFWS reports to anticipate this but that was not in time for many traveling here to adjust to the changes.

Fast forward to this falls hunting, people travel here expecting skies full of ducks only to find muddy drying sloughs. They see the water that is still here leased or having fee access charges and are faced with the reality of going without birds or paying to play. This then give those expoiting the resource more money to expand there operation shutting down the small business owner and the redideint hunters and the rest of the nr freelancer.

With today's technolgy and communications it concentrated hunters where the birds where and created a false reality of population numbers. Economic dependency should never be tied to a resource that is as fickle as our wildlife.
 

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Looking at the legislative scorecard of ND voting records on wildlife legislative bills, Reps. and Dems. both had tar on their faces. Or I should say on their hands, (as in sticky fingers?). In this state it appears to be individuals not parties that support market hunting.

But back to the market hunters. Think of the small number of hunters that moved the pigeons that far, same with the hide hunters after buffalo. Elk just got shoved right into the mountains, same with the big meat eaters. I am certainly no scientist, but I have to think that no matter how good and or large the hatitat is, efficient predation is going to move the prey. If a guide is good at all, he will be an efficient predator, and share those skills with his clients, (scouting, decoying, calling, camo, etc). NDGF has stats that the most game is harvested by a small # of people who must be profficient at the business. Add to it that when a outfitter is full, he referrs clients to another outfitter who is equally profficient. It is like a dog quits eating when his stomach is full, but a outfitter with a full list of clients (full stomach) is not sated because he passes more clients to other outfitters.
 

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I see someone named Satrom is announcing thurs. he is running for Gov. as a Dem. Not on the report card but he was a Legislator.

I asked him a couple questions today on knox radio talk show - he mainly said he was for having professional people with career backgrounds in wildlife mangement run the G&FD - he thought things had been poorly managed .........???
 
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