Missouri’s duck hunting season, extending through January is a time of anticipation for enthusiasts. However, a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision has raised concerns about the future availability of ducks. The court, six months ago, removed protections for most of the nation’s wetlands, a ruling that directly impacts duck habitats.
Zack Morris, President of the Conservation Federation of Missouri, highlighted the implications of the Sackett vs EPA case, which revolved around the definition of waters protected under the federal Clean Water Act. This ruling is crucial for duck hunting, as thriving wetlands are essential for the sport’s sustainability.
Morris expressed concerns about the future of unprotected wetlands, fearing significant loss in the next decade, leading to declining duck populations. Wetlands serve as the primary habitat for over 200 at-risk plant and animal species in Missouri. He emphasized that most ducks migrating through the Midwest’s central or Mississippi flyways originate from small wetlands in the Dakotas, Iowa, and Canada, areas now at risk.
Dana Ripper, Co-founder and Executive Director of the Missouri River Bird Observatory, echoed the importance of wetlands. They play a vital role in flood prevention, water purification, and support a rich biodiversity, including fish, ducks, and shorebirds. She stressed the need for Missourians to lobby their legislators for state-level protections.
The historical perspective is stark: Of the original 2.4 million acres of forested lowlands in southeast Missouri, less than 60,000 acres remain. Nationally, more than half of the 127 million acres of wetlands present at the time of European settlement have been lost. The ongoing lack of protection threatens thousands more acres annually.