Climate change and waterfowl population

Climate change and waterfowl population

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - It is that time of year again where hunters grab their guns and head to waterways for waterfowl.

Audubon Arkansas says even though mallard numbers are on the rise, the mallard is a bird in peril. The group says that the mallard numbers may start to fall in connection with climate change, but some hunters in Region 8 disagree.

Chairman of the Rice and Wings chapter for Duck's Unlimited here in Jonesboro, John Hardin, said that past few years have been great here in Region 8.

Hardin said, "The last three years they've set records, as far as the population and the breeding grounds."

Audubon Arkansas' article said that the mallard is in trouble, but Hardin said he disagrees due to the amount of conservation that is being done here in Arkansas helping the mallard population rise.

Hardin said that the corporation he is with conserves a lot of land here in Arkansas and said, "just in Arkansas they have 32,000 acres that are on permanent conservation."

Hardin also mentioned that one of the most important factors for a good migration of mallards starts at the Canadian breeding grounds for the bird, and Hardin said that his organization even conserves a large amount of land there as well.

Hardin said that due to the breeding grounds being in good shape, the only thing that can stand between them and a good hunting season is the weather.  He said if ice sets up on top of the waterways it could lead to the mallards flying further south, causing mallard numbers to drop in Northeast Arkansas.

With duck season starting in nearly two months, Hardin is in good spirits about this season and said, "They're estimating it to be way up, 8 percent this year and if the numbers hold true it will be the biggest population flight since 1958."

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