Behind the Scenes: How we Monitor

Waterfowl management has a long history in Washington and owes its success to broad partnerships and hunter-funded support to improve wetland habitats.

Washington is an important stop along the Pacific Flyway, a major north-south flyway for migratory birds in America, extending from Alaska to Patagonia. A flyway is a recognized route that is regularly used by migratory birds traveling to and from breeding and wintering areas.

Flyways are used to organize regulatory processes and to set waterfowl seasons and bag limits. For example, the Pacific Flyway Council facilitates a partnership between the 12 western states and federal partners that have jurisdiction within the areas spanning from Alaska to California and east to the Rocky Mountains.

Image for post
Image for post
Columbia River mallards. Photo by Phillip Geist

Funding to support waterfowl conservation comes from a variety of sources, including license sales and authorizations (validations and stamps) along with federal Pittman-Robertson Act funding.

· Licenses: Waterfowl hunting licenses are unique because a portion of the purchase of these licenses provides funding that is specifically dedicated to wetland habitat and waterfowl management in the state and nationwide.

· Pittman-Robertson Act: This act authorizes an excise tax on firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment that is apportioned to state fish and wildlife agencies. This funding supports monitoring species trends and harvest results, as well as administrative costs to sell licenses, manage state lands, and develop harvest seasons. Receiving Pittman-Robertson funds is dependent upon our agency generating the state funds (license fees) to apply for these federal funds through an annual grant process.

· State Migratory Bird Permit: Revenue from the State Migratory Bird Permit and sales of the artwork (formally known as the state Duck Stamp) is a dedicated account that supports wetland acquisition, as well as enhancement and improvement projects across the state, particularly on state wildlife areas.

· Federal Migratory Bird Stamp: Revenue from the sale of Federal Migratory Bird Stamps is dedicated to similar efforts nationwide through the National Wildlife Refuge system, and is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

· State Migratory Bird Authorization: Revenue from the sale of Migratory Bird Authorizations and associated mandatory harvest record cards are used to monitor special case waterfowl management topics that occur in limited distribution and have focused harvest pressure, including: band-tailed pigeon, brant, seaducks, snow geese in Skagit, Snohomish and Island counties, and SW Canada Goose.

Image for post
Image for post

The North American Waterfowl Management Plan was established in 1986 and continues to help guide wetland and waterfowl conservation. This collaborative initiative recognizes the distinct link between wetlands and waterfowl and led to the formation of Habitat Joint Ventures to further drive progress and improvements in waterfowl conservation.

Habitat joint ventures are a collaborative, regional partnership between government agencies, non-profit organizations, corporations, tribes, and individuals that work to conserve habitat for the benefit of birds, other wildlife, and people.

There are 18 habitat joint ventures that help facilitate, identify, and leverage non-federal funds with available North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) federal funds to further protect, restore, and enhance wetland habitats important for waterfowl.

We hope this post provides a high-level overview of waterfowl management, and how we work to provide fantastic hunting opportunities in Washington.

Written by

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is dedicated to preserving, protecting and perpetuating the state’s fish and wildlife resources.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store