Ducks Unlimited: Preserving wildlife

Josiah Jorenby Reporter

Ducks Unlimited has had a chapter at SDSU since 2005. Students that join Ducks Unlimited can be a part of a conservation effort striving toward conservation and preservation of waterfowl and their environments.

SDSU’s chapter is headed by Taylor Linder, a junior wildlife and fisheries major and Sawyer Berg, a senior mechanical engineering major. They serve as co-chairs of the DU chapter at SDSU. The chapter currently has around 20 members. SDSU’s Ducks Unlimited chapter is unique, Berg said, because there are only a handful of universities that have their own Ducks Unlimited chapter. Usually a chapter is attached to a city. Ducks Unlimited is a non- profit organization, which was

founded in 1937, the goal to conserve, restore and manage wetlands and associated habitats for North America’s waterfowl.

According to Spencer Vaa, a retired waterfowl biologist and Ducks Unlimited member, Ducks Unlimited works primarily with landowners to accomplish its goals. Often times, a landowner will agree to not drain the wetlands or plow up the grasslands on his property in exchange for a reduction in taxes. This is known as a conservation easement. “There’s over a million acres of these easements in South Dakota,” said Vaa. Vaa also says that Ducks Unlimited often buys tracts of land – often very expensive – that they want to restore and preserve.

Every year, each chapter holds a banquet to raise money for Ducks Unlimited. SDSU’s chapter plans on holding their

annual banquet this spring. The money raised goes to the various conservation projects that Ducks Unlimited works on.

Linder said that the club would be more than willing to hang out with whomever and teach them about whatever they want to know about ducks, whether it be conservation, hunting or even the biology of ducks. The common goal that unites the members is their concern for the future of waterfowl.

“It’s more a group of guys that has set away an hour to hang out and talk about what we love, our passion,” Berg said.

The SDSU chapter plans to bring speakers from Ducks Unlimited to talk about conservation. They also plan on getting more involved in the community – building wood duck houses and outreach to schools and the Boys and Girls

club. They realize they need to get involved and spread the word in order to protect the future of waterfowl.

“It’s tough to think that in 20 years, if I don’t step up and do anything, who will? And will I have to show my grandchildren someday what a pintail looks like?” Linder asks.

Vaa said he encourages everyone to help conserve wetlands and grasslands through joining a local Ducks Unlimited chapter or purchasing a Federal Duck Stamp at a post office. Federal Duck Stamps help fund easements and purchase of waterfowl production areas.

“There is nothing greater than sitting out in a slough at sun-up just watching a group of duck come and land … and just knowing that the effort you put into Ducks Unlimited goes straight toward that cause,” Berg said.