FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 1, 2002
Federal and state wildlife officials are cooperating in an effort to preserve the genetic purity of Florida's mottled ducks - a subspecies that occurs nowhere else in the world.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is accepting public comments through August 30, 2002 on a draft environmental assessment of a proposal to grant the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) permits to remove artificially introduced mallards from state waters where mallards mix with mottled ducks.
"The permit would be part of a comprehensive effort by the FWS and FWC to conserve mottled ducks through scientific management and public awareness." said Sam D. Hamilton Southeast Regional Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
To ensure the FWC and permitted trappers remove only artificially introduced mallards; the permits would be valid May through August. Wild mallards are migratory, and few of them are present in Florida during that period. Artificially introduced mallards, however, do not migrate and sometimes pair up with mottled ducks during mating season.
"The state and federal wildlife agencies have our complete support
in this project," said Dr. Paul Gray of Audubon
of Florida. "Florida's mottled ducks are unique, and
we could lose the whole sub-species if we don't stop them from breeding
As another part of their mottled duck conservation plan, the FWC is
undertaking a public education and communication plan to promote citizen
understanding and support for the mottled duck preservation effort.
Officials believe most of the offending mallards are ducks that owners
may have released (which is illegal in Florida) or who otherwise escaped
"The key to success of this effort is to educate the public so
they know artificially released mallards are an environmental threat
to mottled ducks," said Kevin Hall, president of United Waterfowlers
of Florida. "This is a problem that will require a comprehensive
solution. It will require people-management as well as wildlife management."
State and federal wildlife agencies have not expressed opposition to
ownership of mallards, but emphasize that owning a mallard requires
a 10-year commitment to be diligent about keeping the mallard away from
"This whole issue illustrates the complexities of preserving Florida's
living resources," said Dr. Franklin Percival, leader of the Florida
Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at the University of Florida.
"It takes partnerships between government agencies and concerned
citizens. That's the only way we can ensure that unique species like
Florida's mottled ducks will be around for future generations to enjoy.
The FWS and FWC are doing what has to be done, and they have our support
on this issue."
If the FWS issues the permit to remove mallards during non-hunting
seasons, as proposed in the EA, removal will be limited to public waters
and private waters where landowners offer the FWC and its permit holders
access. Removal can involve lethal and non-lethal means. In many cases,
the non-migratory mallards reside in urban ponds where trapping is the
most practical removal option.
Send written comments to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Migratory Birds, 1875 Century Boulevard, suite 240, Atlanta, Georgia 30345.
NOTE: You can view our releases or subscribe to receive them -- via e-mail -- at the Service's Southeast Regional home page at http://southeast.fws.gov. Our national home page is at: http://news.fws.gov/newsreleases/.
Atlanta, GA 30345
Phone: 404/679-7289 Fax: 404/679-7286