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What is Ducks Unlimited?

Mary McMahon
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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Ducks Unlimited is a conservation organization which is dedicated to preserving and restoring wetlands, along with supporting the animals which prefer the wetlands environment. Like many such organizations, it is run as a non-profit, and relies heavily upon support from the public to accomplish its goals. The organization partners with numerous groups and individuals all over the world to secure the future of global wetlands. Wetlands are a vital resource around the world, and most people appreciate the efforts of Ducks Unlimited, along with similar organizations. Some conservationists, however, criticize the organization because it is pro-hunting.

In 1937, the organization which later became Ducks Unlimited was founded by a group of sportsmen who were concerned about the future of healthy waterfowl populations. They recognized that expanding human enterprise was threatening wetlands in the United States, and that rapid action was needed to preserve wetlands habitats. A Canadian branch quickly followed, and other countries soon had chapters of their own.

The stated mission of the organization is “wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow, and forever.” To accomplish that goal, Ducks Unlimited partners with other conservation organizations to restore damaged wetlands habitats all over the world. It also works to protect existing wetlands by creating protected areas, parks, and reserves. Governments, organizations, and individuals are all important contributors to the mission of the organization. The group focuses heavily on landowners, encouraging them to protect wetlands areas under their control, or to allow the organization to restore damaged wetlands on their land.

In addition to fieldwork, Ducks Unlimited also runs conservation centers and educational programs to get people enthusiastic about the environment and conservation. In addition, it promotes sustainable hunting of waterfowl. This has been a subject of controversy, since some conservations are opposed to hunting. However, by promoting safe, sustainable hunting practices, Ducks Unlimited allows sportsmen to enjoy themselves while ensuring that waterfowl and the other animals and plants which live in the wetlands will thrive.

Members of the general public can help Ducks Unlimited in a number of ways. Hunters can work with the organization to combine the missions of conservation and sport. Landowners can inquire about buffer zones and marshlands on their own properties. Others can donate to the organization, or join work crews which clean up and restore wetlands habitats. Ducks Unlimited also appreciates the partnership of educators, and is always happy to send biologists into classrooms to talk about wetlands conservation and environmental issues.

All Things Nature is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a All Things Nature researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon953799 — On May 28, 2014

Were you as "shocked," "disheartened," and "confused" when you realized that the Sierra Club does what it does to further the leftist agenda by crippling America's (and other countries') economy with more and more "environmental" regulations?

By anon356483 — On Nov 25, 2013

Wow! I don't see a problem or conflict. Most animals will over produce in their environment without natural predators which causes diseases, albinos, etc. DU allows for waterfowl to reproduce, but not over populate. Hunting is not a bad thing! Most hunters kill to feed themselves. They may enjoy hunting, but it's not wasteful or unnecessary.

By anon308191 — On Dec 10, 2012

For me, it's that they're not up front in their marketing strategies to the general public. They publish "to preserve wetlands" (which is true), but conveniently exclude "... so we can shoot them". When I tell people that, they are shocked (or disbelieve me) so I know the company's real "mission statement" is not getting through to the general public.

By anon291765 — On Sep 16, 2012

As an avid birdwatcher, I was very supportive of the work of Ducks Unlimited, until I found out that they create these wetlands areas to ensure that there are always sufficient numbers of ducks so they can go out and blow their little heads off. That is appalling.

By Sinbad — On Nov 05, 2011

When I first read this article about Ducks Unlimited, I have to admit I was a little shocked and disheartened to learn that they support killing the same animals they are preserving.

But after giving this more thought, I think Ducks Unlimited seems to be a good conservation organization, regardless on their stance and practice of hunting.

Hunting is legal, and is a popular sport, so I doubt it is going to go away anytime soon. Also, some people hunt these waterfowls for food, which is no different than eating any other kind of meat.

Maybe if I was a vegetarian I would see things differently. I mean I guess there is a more humane way to kill these animals (although humane and kill seem like such an oxymoron), but it seems like that process would be very long and difficult. I don’t agree with killing animals for no reason, but if it is for food, I understand.

I think all things considered, Ducks Unlimited is doing a great job conserving our wetlands and the plants and animals that need the wetlands to survive.

By ddljohn — On Nov 05, 2011

@JessicaLynn-- I agree that this organization seems to have hunting interests in mind with some of their activities. I also read about how the organization was formed and it was established by hunters! I'm not saying that these hunters don't care about the environment, I'm sure they do. But I also agree that they seem to be very worried about not having waterfowl to hunt in the future.

A lot of the Ducks Unlimited art, stamps, t-shirts and other products also feature a hunting dog on them. Not to mention that they have duck hunting tips on their official website! So I think that this is a non-profit organization that is as interested in hunting as they are in conservation.

By bear78 — On Nov 05, 2011

We have part of a wetland on our property and my dad is cooperating with Ducks Unlimited to help conserve it. He says that he really likes how the organization started out.

I guess in the early 1940s in the U.S., there was drought in many regions and wetlands were at risk of drying out. So some volunteers came together to help conserve them. My dad really likes that the organization was formed by and is still run by people who care about the environment and who think about what's going to be left behind for future generations.

I've also been to several of their fundraising events with my dad and it was a lot of fun. I like the Ducks Unlimited t-shirts a lot too! I have one with a waterfowl picture on it.

By KaBoom — On Nov 04, 2011

@JessicaLynn - You're being pretty quick to judge this group, don't you think? Hunting is legal, so technically they're not really doing anything wrong. In my opinion, even if they are hunting the birds, it doesn't cancel out all the good work they're doing for the environment.

Preserving the wetlands helps more animals than just waterfowl, after all. It also helps people indirectly by preserving the natural ecosystem of an area. So I hope this group continues on in their mission!

By JessicaLynn — On Nov 03, 2011

This organization might be a non-profit, but I think this organization was created for a pretty selfish reason. It sounds like they basically want to preserve the wetlands so they'll always have birds to hunt! Depleted wetlands = depleted hunting opportunities. In my opinion, that is super lame.

If they really want to do something good for ducks and the wetlands, they should stop the barbaric practice of hunting for sport! In my opinion, they cancel out all the good things they do by killing a bunch of defenseless animals for their own amusement.

By turquoise — On Nov 03, 2011

I was also a bit confused when I heard that Ducks Unlimited is pro-hunting. It didn't make sense to me why an organization would work to conserve wetlands and the animals which live there and then say that it's okay to hunt those animals. But after reading more about the organization and thinking about this issue, I feel that they're doing the right thing.

I think that we can't prevent hunting entirely. It's always going to remain a popular sport and I think that legally, hunting is allowed in almost all states as long as it's done in season and that animal is not endangered. So instead of ignoring it entirely or trying to eradicate it, which isn't going to happen, I'm glad that Ducks Unlimited works with waterfowl hunters to make sure that hunting doesn't endanger these wetland bird populations.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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