When Minnesota’s duck season opens on Saturday, there will be half the number of hunters watching the sun rise as there were thirty years ago.
From this story in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:
_When Minnesota’s waterfowl season opens Saturday, something will be missing: hunters. The number of duck hunters has declined by nearly 50 percent in the past 30 years, from an estimated 155,000 in 1979 to 78,000 last year. In only the past 10 years, the state has lost 44,000 duck hunters. This while the overall number of licensed hunters in the state has stayed fairly constant at around 560,000.
__What’s going on? Officials point to myriad reasons, including a lack of ducks, aging Baby Boomers, urbanization, time and access constraints and the simple fact that hunting ducks can be more difficult and expensive than hunting other species. “We can’t pinpoint any one thing,” said Dennis Simon, Department of National Resources wildlife section chief and an avid duck hunter.
And there’s also no easy fix. The trend is disturbing, wildlife officials and conservation groups say, for the future of waterfowl and waterfowl habitat. Because duck hunters, through license and stamp fees and an excise tax on hunting equipment and ammunition, have paid for a large amount of wildlife habitat in the state. Also, waterfowl hunters wield political influence, evidenced by passage in 2008 of the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment. “Fewer duck hunters means less money for habitat work,” said Steve Cordts, DNR waterfowl specialist. “But to me it’s the loss of support for wildlife conservation that is more concerning.”
Your thoughts? Have you given up duck hunting, and if so, why?