August 3, 2018
New Chapter for the Most Storied of Marshes
By Charles S. Potter Jr./McGraw
Photo by Dominic Sherony/flickr
Arguably the world's most famous waterfowl marsh is Delta, on the southern shore of Canada's Lake Manitoba. It became famous more than a century ago, when the duke of York -- later King George V of England hunted there. Subsequently, sportswriter Jimmy Robinson opened his Sports Afield camp on the marsh and hosted luminaries such as Clark Gable and John Wayne. The Delta Marsh also inspired some of the world's best known wildlife artists, including Ogden Pleissner, Sir Peter Scott and David Maass.

For almost 100 years the Bell family of Minneapolis has owned the property known as the York Lodge on the north shore of this vast marsh. James Ford Bell, the founder of General Mills, came to Delta in search of canvasback ducks after his home hunting grounds -- Heron Lake in Minnesota -- had seen its population wither. The internationally renowned Delta Waterfowl research station later opened on the property under Bell's sponsorship.

Now another seminal conservationist -- John Childs, a great friend of the Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation -- has acquired the Delta Marsh property. As was the case with Bell, Childs is driven in the quest to see large concentrations of canvasback, and he also is determined to provide scientific research and habitat improvement on the marsh. 

A century ago, Bell committed to putting two ducks back for every one shot. John Childs' goal is to exceed this -- he would like to see the canvasback population double to exceed 1 million birds and for the Delta Marsh to serve as a living laboratory for this work. 

Both of these men have been giants in waterfowl conservation and drivers of industry. It is exciting to know that one of the greatest marshes will continue to be overseen by committed individuals who cherish the heritage and look to an ever-brighter future for the king of ducks, the canvasback.
Here’s How America Uses Its Land
Photo by Lauren Tucker/flickr
There are many statistical measures that show how productive the U.S. is. Its economy is the largest in the world and grew at a rate of 4.1 percent last quarter, its fastest pace since 2014. The unemployment rate is near the lowest mark in a half century.

What can be harder to decipher is how Americans use their land to create wealth. The 48 contiguous states alone are a 1.9 billion-acre jigsaw puzzle of cities, farms, forests and pastures that Americans use to feed themselves, power their economy and extract value for business and pleasure.

Using surveys, satellite images and categorizations from various government agencies, the U.S. Department of Agriculture divides the U.S. into six major types of land. The data can’t be pinpointed to a city block—each square on the map represents 250,000 acres of land. But piecing the data together state-by-state can give a general sense of how U.S. land is used.
When Wolves, Ranchers and Academia Collide
By Christopher Solomon/The New York Times
Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/flickr
You might not guess from looking at him that Rob Wielgus was until recently a tenured professor of wildlife ecology. Wielgus likes to spend time in the backwoods of the American West that lie off the edge of most tourist maps, and he dresses the part: motorcycle leathers, tattoos on both forearms, the stringy hairs of a goatee dangling like lichen from his lower lip. Atop his bald head he often wears a battered leather bush hat of the type seen at Waylon Jennings concerts. A Camel smolders in his face like a fuse. The first time I called him, he told me that he couldn’t chat because he was riding his Harley home from the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota.

When we met last fall, Wielgus, who is 61, wasn’t wearing his bush hat, however, but a straw cowboy hat pulled low over his eyes. He was, he explained, in disguise.

Wielgus had spent years in the surrounding woods doing research, and he loved the area. Now he considered it hostile territory. Before he pushed through the swinging doors of a bar, he paused and lifted an untucked shirt to show me the black handle of a .357 handgun poking from the front pocket of his jeans. “Too many death threats,” he said. “I never started carrying this till I started studying wolves.”
Listen: The Most Pressing Issues in Conservation
Photo by Kansas Tourism/flickr
Conservation won’t work well if we only fight for what we see outside our own windows every day. It can’t be about Western lands and Eastern lands when it comes to America’s public lands. We can’t afford to stand on opposite sides of a dividing line between saltwater and freshwater fishing or big game and small game hunting.

In short, we can’t win on generation-defining conservation battles if we’re not working together.

On a recent episode of the  East to West Hunting Podcast , Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership President and CEO Whit Fosburgh urges sportsmen and women across the country to recognize our greatest challenges and unite to take action. From conservation programs in the Farm Bill, the  looming expiration of the Land and Water Conservation Fund , and  a fresh legislative attack on ownership of America’s public lands  to invasive species, forage fish management, and  the future of deer hunting , there is so much opportunity to find common ground.
Our Largest Squirrel is Back from the Brink
By Ted Williams/Nature
Photo by Kansas Tourism/flickr
Dead squirrels on sun-baked tar contrasted sharply with the beauty of forests and farmland in and around  Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge   on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

In two days I counted five road kills — then-endangered Delmarva fox squirrels, the continent’s largest tree squirrel and one of the original 78 listings under the first version of the Endangered Species Act enacted in 1967. All 78 were included in the stronger version of 1973.

Historically, Delmarva fox squirrels had ranged across the whole Delmarva Peninsula and north into parts of Pennsylvania, Virginia and New Jersey. But at time of listing they persisted only in four Maryland counties.
“Grand ideas can be born in duck blinds, for many of America's leading conservationists found both inspiration and motivation from what they saw and felt as they awaited encounters with wildfowl.”  

- Chris Dorsey

To read past McGraw Reports click here.