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MO duck-hunting season portends a grim future

A hunter walks through a reed-covered lake in waist-deep water. He pulls plastic duck decoys behind him. A shotgun is slung over his shoulder.
Rodimov Pavel/rodimovpavel - stock.adobe.com
A hunter walks through a reed-covered lake in waist-deep water. He pulls plastic duck decoys behind him. A shotgun is slung over his shoulder.

Missouri's duck-hunting season runs through January, and many enthusiasts are concerned about how plentiful their future quarry will be because of a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

It's been six months since the high court removed protections for most wetlands in the nation.

Zack Morris is the president of the Conservation Federation of Missouri and said the Sackett vs EPA case dealt with identifying which waters are protected under the federal Clean Water Act.

This affects the quality of upcoming duck hunts. Morris said without thriving wetlands, the sport won't be able to carry on.

"It's hard to say how many of those unprotected wetlands are going to be plowed under or how fast," said Morris, "but that's certainly, I think, a reality that we'll face is significant wetland loss over the next 10 years or so and declining duck numbers as a result. "

Wetlands are also the primary habitat for 200 at-risk plants and animals in the state.

Morris said most of the ducks that migrate through the Midwest on the central or Mississippi flyways hatch in small pothole wetlands in North and South Dakota, Iowa and Canada.

Duck habitat is expected to decline for the U.S. portion.

Conservation groups in Missouri say protecting the wetlands is now up to state agencies.

Dana Ripper is co-founder and executive director of the Missouri River Bird Observatory and said wetlands are critical to Missouri's way of life and Missourians need to reach out to their legislators to gain protections.

Ripper said wetlands protect us from flooding and provide us with clean drinking water. They are key for fish and the millions of ducks and shorebirds that migrate through the state annually.

"They are some of our most biodiverse ecosystems here in Missouri - all throughout the Midwest," said Ripper. "They also provide water filtration. We have had devastating floods just in the last 15 years or so. And our wetlands are really important for helping to mitigate the effects of flooding. "

As many as 127 million acres of wetlands existed when settlers arrived on this continent. Today, more than 50% of those wetlands are gone - and without protection, thousands of acres will be
lost each year in the United States.

Of the original 2.4 million wild acres of forested lowlands in southeast Missouri, less than 60,000 acres, or 2%, remain today.

Born and raised in Canada to an early Pakistani immigrant family, Farah Siddiqi was naturally drawn to the larger purpose of making connections and communicating for public reform.
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