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Ducks unlimited-the retailer's friend.

Dealer awareness of the needs of the nation's sportsmen-oriented conservation organizations is essential if the sporting goods retailer is to survive today. We're talking about those nonprofit organizations which through the years have spearheaded wildlife restoration programs as well as wildlife habitat improvement projects. The organizations that have defended hunting and the right to keep and bear arms.

Ironically, the average sporting goods retailer seldom finds the time to learn just what such organizations are all about, how they operate and what they actually do, not only for the sportsman/hunter but indirectly for the nation's sporting goods retailer as well. Remember, without wildlife sensibly managed and perpetuated through practical restoration and habitat improvement programs, there would be precious little game available to the hunter on the North American continent. Without hunting, many firearms retailers would face a disastrous situation.

Ducks Unlimited (DU) is just such an organization - a totally non-profit, non-governmental wildlife conservation program dedicated to the perpetuation and sound management of all waterfowl populations. This is accomplished through the controlled management of wetlands and kindred habitat so essential to the nesting and breeding of waterfowl. Such fine programs are being carried out by Ducks Unlimited not only in the continental United States, but in Canada as well, where more than 70 per cent of our wildfowl reproduce their kind.

Since its inception, Ducks Unlimited has raised more than $90 million through membership dues, donations and contributions and a sizable sum has been funnelled directly into wetland development in the United States and Canada. Today DU boasts some 550,000 individual members across the nation, but this vast legion is still not enough.

In view of continued soaring costs, more money is needed to continue its programs. More sportsmen, including the sporting goods retailers, are needed on a local and regional level not only to raise funds but to generate community interest in the perpetuation o fowl resource.

Actually, DU must raise 20 per cent more funds with each new year simply to maintain its biological and ecological goals here in the United States and Canada.

DU has a most interesting history. It was conceived during the depression and drought years of the 30s, 1937 to be precise. It was created by sportsmen who had watched our natural resources being relentlessly abused by not only the advancement of civilization but by nature itself. Waterfowl especially continued to suffer dramatically from the adverse environment and during those early years those individuals with DU had the foresight to grasp the fact our waterfowl was in jeopardy.

These same individuals realized the key to waterfowl survival - as with all wildlife species - is habitat maintenance and if possible, habitat improvement. An early biological survey indicated some 70 per cent of all waterfowl on the North American continent originated in Canada - and the stage was set.

DU moved forward in an effort to restore and rehabilitate the wetlands in the vast Canadian prairie provinces. These areas had been nearly destroyed as a result of the westward movement of civilization following World War I and the subsequent draining and cultivation of this prairie land, followed by the severe drought of the 30s.

Since its inception, DU has successfully completed literally hundreds of wetland projects throughout the Canadian provinces varying in size from prairie potholes to massive acreage. Operating with funds from America's sportsmen, water control structures such as dikes, levees and sluice gates have been constructed to stabilize the essential wetland breeding and nesting areas from the adverse effects of flooding and drought.

DU has now extended into Mexico, a major wintering area for some of our North American waterfowl. Ducks Unlimited de Mexico (DUMAC) has high hopes of restoring vast acres of wintering wildfowl habitat in various corners of Mexico. In addition, DUMAC has implemented a fund-raising campaign to maintain and improve essential wetland habitats south of the border.

While federal migratory bird stamp funds (Duck Stamps) are channeled into on-going restoration programs here in the United States, such funds cannot be appropriated to projects outside the country. But it is another story with DU. Since it is a non-profit organization, it can go beyond the American borders to maintain and perpetuate wildfowl projects and as such has accomplished and will continue to accomplish more than the federal government or any other similar United States-based conservation organization.

DU funds are derived as follows 14 percent from individual membership; 19 percent from sponsors (individuals and interested participants such as sporting goods retailers) who contribute $200 or more annually; 56 percent from net proceeds; 1 percent from interest; 4 percent from individuals and foundations, and 5 per- cent from state governments.

Its outgoing funds are channeled as follows - 78 percent to Canadian and Mexican habitat restoration; 4 percent for administration; 5 percent membership systems; 5 percent promotion, and 8 per cent for education and field operations.

An individual membership in DU is $20 annually and individuals receive a membership card, an automobile decal and a year's subscription to the Ducks Unlimited magazine.

DU also features a "sponsor" program wherein those interested parties contributing $200 or more annually receive a special hand-lettered membership certificate, a sponsor decal and a membership card in addition to a special sponsor pin and individual listing in the "Annual Report to Sponsors."

Other sponsor memberships are also available including Life Sponsor; Sponsor in Perpetuity and Benefactor's Roll of Honor. Foundations as well as sporting goods retailers and other interested parties are equally invited to participate in aiding our wildfowl resources. DU also boasts the "Greenwing" Program for the junior waterfowler (17 years and younger), with annual due costing just $5.

DU's national headquarters further maintains an extensive library of full-color films which are available for showing at DU committees, sportsmen's clubs, etc. Contact the Film Department, Ducks Unlimited, Inc., I Waterfowl Way, Long Grove, IL 60047. Finally, additional information regarding DU and its conservation work is available by writing national headquarters at the above address.

Sporting goods retailers should also become acquainted with the DU regional director in his area for information on local programs. Remember, the maintenance of wetlands and waterfowl populations is essential for the continuation of sport hunting - a tool in wildlife management - and the perpetuation of hunting is essential in keeping the sporting goods retailer in business.

Habitat restoration and waterfowl propagation are the primary objectives of DU. But its projects are most beneficial to many other wild creatures as well as domestic life.

During dry periods such wetlands are oases for farmers who depend on fresh water and during flood periods these very same wetlands serve as reservoirs for controlling runoff. In addition, since no funds are used to purchase real estate, DU can concentrate on restoring and managing these most essential wetlands areas.

"Today as the resource demands of the modern world reach into the wilderness, the need for accelerated wetland restoration and preservation becomes vital to the future of continental waterfowl populations. To preserve North America's remaining wetland areas, DU is appealing to all individuals whose concern for a quality existence can be translated into a lasting gift for the successful propagation of our waterfowl resource," said a DU spokesman.

It's November now and the glorious days of autumn are here. Waterfowl are winging their way southward along all our major flyways and when you hear the whisper of wings, remember that the nation's sportsmen as well as the sporting goods retailer owe a great deal to DU for its aggressive programs which have made and will continue to make waterfowl hunting truly a sport of kings.
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Author:Brant, Howard
Publication:Shooting Industry
Date:Nov 1, 1990
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