Facebook icon Twitter icon Flicker icon You Tube icon

Director's Corner

Meet Service Director Dan Ashe.

Counting Ducks and Their Habitats from the Skies

Did you know we have a dedicated group of pilot biologists? Today, Jerome Ford, our Assistant Director for Migratory Birds, tells about one of their important jobs:

The 2014 Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey has begun! Our pilot biologists and their on-board observers are taking to the skies with support from crews on the ground. The pilots have a bird’s eye view from 150 feet in the air as they fly throughout Canada and the northern United States. They fly more than 55,000 miles every year, over lakes, rivers, marshes and other wetlands counting ducks, geese and swans — a distance equivalent to more than  two times around the world!


Habitat in southwestern South Dakota. You can follow our effort to conserve the prairie at #ConserveThePrairies. Photo by Brenda Kelly/USFWS

Early reports from the pilot biologists and their crews are promising. Alberta received good snowpack during the winter, and it appears much of the melt accumulated and renewed many of the wetlands. The conditions seem very good, and duck numbers are coming in above average. In southern Manitoba and southeastern Saskatchewan, conditions look excellent, and the pilots have noticed how much more water is around this year compared to last year. In southern Saskatchewan, pilots are seeing more green-winged teal than last year, while western South Dakota is yielding good numbers of gadwall, blue-winged teal, mallard and northern shoveler, with a scattering of pintail.


Endangered Species Day: A Celebration of Success

We can all be part of local Endangered Species Day events that will educate and motivate others, and we can all work to further the recovery of endangered, threatened and at-risk species.

Today, May 16, is Endangered Species Day, and it is a day to celebrate the amazing conservation successes of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), one of our most vital tools for protecting our nation’s endangered, threatened and at-risk species. 

Our nation’s rich diversity of fish, wildlife, and plant resources symbolizes America’s richness and promise. If we do great harm to the environment in pursuing our ambitions for wealth today, then we run the risk of impoverishing our children and grandchildren tomorrow – not to mention ourselves. 

The ESA represents a firm commitment to safeguard our natural resources not only for future generations but also for the many benefits we gain from healthy ecosystems. 

Fla panther

The Florida panther was federally listed as an endangered species in 1967 and ultimately under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Photo by Larry Richardson/USFWS

And guard our resources it has. The ESA is credited with saving 99 percent of those species listed from extinction. 


Conservation Law Enforcement Protects Us, Not Just Wildlife

As Americans, we are blessed with not only a magnificent diversity of plant and animal life, but also strong laws that protect them – laws such as the Endangered Species Act, Lacey Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act and others, the strength and breadth of which are unparalleled the world over. Like all laws, though, these statutes are only as good as our ability to enforce them, and for that, we are incredibly fortunate to have the men and women of the Service’s Office of Law Enforcement and the National Wildlife Refuge System Law Enforcement Division. 

inspectorWildlife Inspectors are stationed at wildlife ports of entry around the country. Photo by Bill Butcher/USFWS

These officers put on uniform, badge and gun to protect not just our most valuable asset –the natural world around us – but also us as we venture out into it. They ensure that our rivers are unpolluted, our air clean and our wild lands free from criminal activity.

Our K9 Program helps officers by providing specialized skills in crime prevention and in tactical situations, such as locating wildlife and contraband. They are used for tracking people and search and rescue, as well as the full gamut of police related functions. A canine partner provides officer protection and is proven to reduce injuries to law enforcement officers. Dogs are also used to detect illegal wildlife shipments.

Conservation ensures wildlife and other natural resources are available to us and the generations that will follow. And if we do not address certain vital problems today, they will cause devastation tomorrow. Problems such as poaching and the illegal wildlife trade – both homegrown and international. Our law enforcement officers are on the front lines of that fight, stopping illegal trade and cross-border transport while allowing legal trade and the benefit that provides to the world economy to continue.


More Entries