Buffalo Creek, MN — The Case of the Disappearing Ducks.
This week, we're stopping at Buffalo Creek, Minnesota, home of the Prairie Pothole Region: the most important breeding ground for ducks in the United States. But this critical area is at risk. With global temperatures rising by just a few degrees Fahrenheit, the future of this crucial habitat and the ducks that breed there are at stake.
As temperatures rise, ducks migrate farther north in warmer weather in the Northern Hemisphere. These ducks risk losing a place to live, eat, breed and survive. The climate changes taking place affect young ducklings' ability to survive their first migration. Rising temperatures even lowers the rate of survival for the food that ducks eat and feed to their young. Most notably, the population of ducks could decline by about 70% in about 70 years if current projections play themselves out. This would be caused mostly by the fact that 91% of the wetlands that ducks need would have dried up.
In a rare coupling, environmentalists and hunters have joined forces to call attention to the threatened duck. Hunters spent $1.3 billion in the United States in 2001, $99 million of that was spent in Minnesota alone. Hunters and environmentalists join together to highlight the demonstrable fact that change is already occurring. The migratory and brooding cycles of many types of birds has significantly changed compared to patterns from 1960. Hunters know that their livelihood is at stake as climate change takes a toll on the duck population in the United States. Environmentalists know that wetlands are drying up as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increases and temperature change follows suit.
The Prairie Pothole Region is just one of the stops on our virtual march, but this precious wetland region is calling for our attention and our help. Let's keep marching to stop the gradual but real decline in wetlands and the population of ducks in the US.