International Journal for the Study of Animal Problems


John W. Grandy


A scientific and technical analysis is presented of the factors that may have been responsible for an estimated 60% decline in the black duck (Anas rubripes) population since 1955. The analyses presented show that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS], the management agency responsible for waterfowl management in the United States, has recognized the population decline, that the FWS's own experts have consistently recognized that hunting is the most likely cause of the population decline and that hunting is the only mortality factor which wildlife managers can control in the practical sense. Using FWS information, the author shows, however, that from 1967 to 1982, regulations permitting the killing of black ducks have, in net effect, only been made more permissive, while, since the early 1970s, the numbers of hunters and hunter days (hunter effort] have remained relatively high. Hunting has accounted for 50% to 60% of total mortality. The author terms the consistent failure of the FWS to take effective regulatory action to stop the decline and to attempt to restore the black duck population as a failure of modern-day wildlife management. Using a series of quotations from knowledgeable individuals, the author analyzes why this failure occurred.

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