The Waterfowl Program is coordinated by two biologists, the Waterfowl Study Leader and the North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP) Coordinator and involves many aspects of waterfowl/wetlands management, research, and monitoring. Due to the migratory nature of ducks and geese, many of these activities are coordinated with other states, multiple federal agencies and private conservation groups. Consequently, Waterfowl Program personnel represent LDWF on various committees which are involved in formulating state, regional and national programs that have impacts on wetlands and waterfowl.
The objective of the Waterfowl Program is to manage waterfowl resources and wetlands to provide for optimum wildlife benefits and quality outdoor experiences.
Louisiana is arguably the most important wintering area for waterfowl in the United States. Hordes of ducks and geese have utilized the coastal bays and marshes, flooded swamps, agricultural fields, inland lakes, river backwaters and oxbows for hundreds of years. Those habitats provide for the needs of a large proportion of Mississippi Flyway waterfowl during migration and winter, and for those of breeding wood ducks, mottled ducks, and a growing number of whistling ducks. The wetlands of Louisiana and their associated waterfowl attract hunters, birdwatchers, and scientists alike.
Waterfowl hunting is incredibly popular in Louisiana, and our harvest ranks at or near the top. According to the most recent USFWS Waterfowl Harvest Report, duck harvest in Louisiana ranked 1st and 4th in 2003 and 2004 respectively. That duck-hunting activity brings a lot of economic activity to the State. The latest evaluation of the economic impact of waterfowl hunting in the United States showed that hunters spent 1-million days and $105,000,000 hunting ducks in Louisiana in 2001.
In order to meet public demands for this resource, Waterfowl Program personnel offer technical assistance to improve wetland habitat on public and private lands to provide food for wintering ducks and geese, nest-sites and brood-rearing habitat for breeding wood ducks, and to improve hunting opportunities. They coordinate and participate in research efforts with other LDWF personnel, university staff, government agencies, and conservation organizations. Several population monitoring surveys are conducted by Program personnel to develop population indices, track population trends and document distribution of waterfowl. Lastly, biologists in the Waterfowl Program are an integral part of the Mississippi Flyway Council Technical Committee that gathers and interprets the technical data used to set annual waterfowl hunting regulations.