Declining Duck Populations: Can We Agree on a Solution?

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Declining Duck Populations: Can We Agree on a Solution?

Postby DVRDCK » Thu Oct 09, 2008 5:17 pm

I read an the St. Paul Pioneer Press that was interesting on the topic of what may be causing declining populations of bluebill. The article really made me think, which I will elaborate upon later. Here is the excerpt of the article, with my comments at the end:

Biologists pose numerous hypotheses for the bluebill population decline. One hypothesis purports that contaminants -- specifically chromium and selenium -- are "bioaccumulating" in female bluebills and impacting their survival, reproduction and, ultimately, population growth.

Students at Winona Senior High School, read the latest research on contaminants in migrating and breeding bluebills and wondered how these contaminants got into scaup habitat. Growing up along the Mississippi River in Winona, the students learned about water quality testing for these contaminants and proposed for our high school science projects that bluebills might be eating contaminated invertebrates.

To test the hypothesis, they collected thousands of invertebrates from wetlands and waterways in Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. These included invertebrates commonly consumed by scaup such as scuds, midge larvae, fingernail clams, snails and exotic zebra mussels.

The results were surprising. Zebra mussels, known for their water-filtering ability, contained low concentrations of chromium and selenium, while amphipods contained the greatest concentrations of chromium. They also found fingernail clams to contain alarming levels of selenium, exceeding the environmental quality threshold for these invertebrates. Wetlands surrounded by more developed land harbored invertebrates with increased concentrations of chromium and selenium.

So what does this mean for bluebills? We don't understand the full consequences of contaminants yet, hence research must continue. For example, we need a better understanding of the distribution of wetlands with environmental contaminants, when bluebills are consuming contaminated invertebrates and whether this foraging is impacting scaup survival and reproduction.

Indeed, improved habitat -- and greater availability of invertebrate foods -- can help "heal" duck and other wildlife populations and stimulate population growth.

Fellow hunters, we need to ask ourself a question: Does the world really need chromium, selenium and other heavy metals in our lives?

We may not have a resource to enjoy in the future if as a society we create man-made substances faster than they can be broken down naturally (or in the case of many toxic substances such as dioxins, DDT and PCBs, they may never break down but continue to become more concentrated in the animals that digest them).

In my opinion, it doesn't matter whether the companies that make these substances feel that they are safe or not. That misses the point; we simply cannot add something to our world if it cannot break down safely and naturally. Otherwise, you get what we have here which are substances that never existed in the diet of the bluebill before, now readily persist. The result is higher and higher concentrations of a foreign matter in the food chain and who wants that?

Certainly not me, because I not only have a passion to hunt bluebills, I also eat duck. And who wants to eat something that has concentrations of man-made substances?

Whether the question of declining bluebill populations is a resource conservation issue or not, also misses the point. Its clear to me that we cannot pursue a sustainable path with regard to our natural resources if the breeding and feeding resources for bluebills are being depleted or degraded faster than they can be re-generated naturally or the ecosystem is manipulated in favor of other priorities (such as altering wetlands for development).

I wish we could all agree that our world needs to change how we address these problems. Spending research money on what factors may be attributing to the decline of duck species like the scaup is pointless, because whatever is ultimately agreed upon as a cause will be countered with someone saying these substances or these practices are safe and cause no harm.

Unfortunately, in the end NO consensus will be reached and in the case of the bluebill, whose populations have been declining since the 1950’s, not much has been done to help them.

In my opinion, there must be some truth about the declining population of the bluebill, and any other duck species for that matter, that everyone can agree on.

There must be some truth that everyone can agree upon whether you are a farmer, a hunter, a chemical company executive or a building developer and perhaps this is it:

1. It seems to make common sense that man cannot create a new substance if that substance cannot break down faster than the natural alternative it is trying to replace.

2. It also seems to make common sense that the natural resources for ducks cannot be depleted or degraded faster than they can be re-generated naturally.

If we could agree upon these two principles as our fundamental policy on how we address all environmental matters, do you reasonable believe the bluebill populations would continue to decline?

My gut instincts tell me that all duck species would improve.

What are your thoughts?
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bluebills

Postby Michigan Sniper » Thu Oct 09, 2008 8:12 pm

There are several "hypotheses" as to what is causing the bluebill decline. They range from bioaccumulation (the selenium and chromium in invertabrates, for example) to global warming to habitat degadation and simply a lack of habitat and food. I believe that each of these factors has played some role in the bluebill decline.

Something else just popped into my head - how do we really know that the population estimates for scaup are accurate to the same extent from year to year? The spring duck counts are supposedly done at the time when mallards are the most numerous, since they are the most important duck in the overall picture. Mallards supposedly migrate north early, while scaup are said to be late spring migrants. The survey could be missing a large chunk of bluebills every year. I'm not saying that bluebill numbers have not declined over the past few decades, just questioning the accuracy of the numbers we're fed (just as many people questioned how the number of canvasbacks dropped so much from last year to this year - several thousand cans died in SE Michigan over last winter, so if you're interested in that, let me know).

As for keeping contaminants out of the environment, yes, we should do everything we can to minimize our impact on the natural world, but what do you really expect. There are a lot of contaminants already out there, and it's impossible to go through every wetland and magically remove them. Bluebill's are unique in that the majority of their food is of the animal variety, which in this case is unfortunate, since the animals they prefer to feed on are excellent at concentrating harmful chemicals. As long as there are people, there will be chemicals out there that wind up in bluebills (and everything else). Chromium and selenium are elements - they are not man made and cannot be broken down at all. Selenium, and probably chromium as well, are necessary in small amounts to keep animals (including bluebills) healthy. Too much selenium can cause deformed young, death to adult birds, and possibly infertility. However, it is because of the activities of people that these elements are contaminating the environment.

Another thing that gets me is that I have read that they conducted a study on the Great Lakes and Lake St. Clair to test the amount of contaminants in bluebills, but they don't just come out and tell us hunters about it. Part of the reason may be because (if I remember correctly) they don't know what effect different amounts of selenium have on bluebills, so they could not reach any meaningful conclusion from their study. I do believe, though, that several hen scaup livers they checked tested higher than some supposed acceptable limit for selenium. What that limit was, I can't remember, and they don't know how the selenium affects the ducks, anyway. They guessed that it may cause infertility, and said they had to do more research.

I guess I'll end my rambling here. I can't even remember what I was trying to say. Have fun chasing your 1 bluebill this year - I'll still be trying.
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Postby carsonr2 » Fri Oct 10, 2008 7:27 am

One solution to the potential problem of high contaminant levels.

High metallic levels in waterways and wetlands can most often be attributed to non-point source pollution. The greatest sources of non-point source pollution is impervious surface runoff. Rain water that flows over parking lots and roadways, that collects pollutants dripped off of automobiles reaches waterways.

Conventional storm water systems (your typical curb and gutter), often drain directly to watercourses. In recent years some municipalities have begun the work of creating regulations for the use of retention ponds or wetlands to hold water before being discharged to waterways. The thought is if the water is allowed to be held in these retention ponds the settling of pollutants will occur.

I don't disagree with the effective nature of this method, although the use of wet retention ponds and wetlands still promotes pollutants to wildlife that use these areas, and is expensive to put in place. How many times have you seen ducks, geese and birds hanging out in retention ponds behind a new wal-mart, etc. They are basically bathing in highly contaminated water.

A movement that myself and others are trying to promote in our region, and many other planners are promoting across the country is the use of Low Impact Design (LID). This is basically a set of stormwater controls that promote the retention of the first "flush", which means the retention of the first one inch of rainfall. The first one inch of rainfall has been proven to contain about 90% of the pollutants. This is because that first one inch cleans the pavement surface, and the following rainfall lacks the pollutant levels when it runs off.

Basically LID consists of structures such as raingardens and bioswales at the source of the pollution. Instead of designing parking lots with treed islands raised up on curbs, why not recess those islands below the pavement a few inches and slope the concrete to them so water will drain into the planting beds. This then filters and cleans the water, while creating landscape features.

This is a very basic example, and obviously there is engineering that goes into the design, that deals with very heavy rains and excess water. I don' t need to bore anyone by getting into the specifics. Believe me it works, I have tons of examples, and studies.

Basically the end result is beneficial to all parties involved. I have spent numerous time researching and working with these techniques. Here is a short list of benefits to all stakeholders involved.

-LID designs save developers money because they eliminate much of the use of expensive curb and gutter systems. In-ground infrastructure is very expensive.

-It is proven that when LID is used in housing developments, the property values increase with addition of landscaped raingardens.

-LID promote clean water at the source. This helps all aspects of the environment that would normally be affected in watercourses that receive polluting waters from upstream.

-LID helps control flood waters at the source. Instead of speeding up water flow, and discharging it to a creek, stream, river, etc. They help retain it farther up at the source. Some flooding can be prevented downstream, potentially saving homes during floods.

-It is always cheaper to keep water clean at a source, rather than have to clean it in treatment plant. Taxpayers pay millions of dollars to treat water that could be cleaner at the source. This will save money for the municipalities and the taxpayer.

Regardless if this is the true cause of Bluebill declines, the benefits of using these innovative stormwater controls is too far reaching to disregard them. I'll get off my LID soapbox now, but it is something to consider when speaking of pollutant levels.
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Postby Tom Phillips* » Fri Oct 10, 2008 8:26 am

carsonr2 wrote:A movement that myself and others are trying to promote in our region, and many other planners are promoting across the country is the use of Low Impact Design (LID). This is basically a set of stormwater controls that promote the retention of the first "flush", which means the retention of the first one inch of rainfall. The first one inch of rainfall has been proven to contain about 90% of the pollutants. This is because that first one inch cleans the pavement surface, and the following rainfall lacks the pollutant levels when it runs off.

Basically LID consists of structures such as raingardens and bioswales at the source of the pollution. Instead of designing parking lots with treed islands raised up on curbs, why not recess those islands below the pavement a few inches and slope the concrete to them so water will drain into the planting beds. This then filters and cleans the water, while creating landscape features.

This is a very basic example, and obviously there is engineering that goes into the design, that deals with very heavy rains and excess water. I don' t need to bore anyone by getting into the specifics. Believe me it works, I have tons of examples, and studies.

Basically the end result is beneficial to all parties involved. I have spent numerous time researching and working with these techniques. Here is a short list of benefits to all stakeholders involved.

-LID designs save developers money because they eliminate much of the use of expensive curb and gutter systems. In-ground infrastructure is very expensive.

-It is proven that when LID is used in housing developments, the property values increase with addition of landscaped raingardens.

-LID promote clean water at the source. This helps all aspects of the environment that would normally be affected in watercourses that receive polluting waters from upstream.

-LID helps control flood waters at the source. Instead of speeding up water flow, and discharging it to a creek, stream, river, etc. They help retain it farther up at the source. Some flooding can be prevented downstream, potentially saving homes during floods.

-It is always cheaper to keep water clean at a source, rather than have to clean it in treatment plant. Taxpayers pay millions of dollars to treat water that could be cleaner at the source. This will save money for the municipalities and the taxpayer.


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Declining Blue Bill Populations

Postby storms » Sat Oct 11, 2008 5:30 am

This is a topic that has been going on now for a number of years,problem being the biologist community never seem to be able to agree leaving us waterfowl hunters in the dark.We all know declining pop. of waterfowl is mainly habitat loss & pollution.Its not rocket science,let me hear one person tell me that lead shot is, was a contributing factor to waterfowl numbers declining let alone b.bills , sorry that is nothing but a coverup for big companies polluting the waterways & land with some of the worst chemicals ever made.For example did you ever wonder why these companies set up shop on the doorstep of the great lakes.Don,t need to be a scientist to figure that out !I am only a duck hunter for the last 30 years, that has watched scaup pop. drop signifcantly,but more so watched pollution in our system reach a all time high, don,t have to be a bioligist , scientist wizard to see whats going on. 1 bluebill limits that is a slap in the face to our intelligence to what is really going on.My 2 cents!
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Postby DuckinFool » Sat Oct 11, 2008 9:54 pm

By the time Obama and the Socialist majority in Congress get finished with the Second Amendment it probably won't matter anyway.
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Postby don taylor » Sun Oct 12, 2008 10:54 am

Wasn't DDT proven safe and Rachel Carson's Silent Spring proven to be complete fiction? It doesn't thin egg's shells, it was harmless in lab tests. It only effects insects. Then the guy that invented that stuff drank it daily and lived into his 90's. More misinformation from enviro-nuts.
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Postby dudejcb » Mon Oct 13, 2008 1:40 pm

DuckinFool wrote:By the time Obama and the Socialist majority in Congress get finished with the Second Amendment it probably won't matter anyway.
You should go hide in the corner... and take you gun with you... just in case.
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Postby SpinnerMan » Mon Oct 13, 2008 2:08 pm

Knowing nothing about bluebills. I've seen two that I could positively ID in my life. I didn't realize they eat primarily filter feeding organism. There are new voracious filter feeders that has enterred the Mississippi River Basin recently. The hated Asian carp are dominating the biomass in large stretches of the river basin. This raises the question.

Are the Asian carp reducing the winter food supply for the bluebills?

The pollution seems quite unlikely because pollution has been around for a long time and generally has gotten better and not worse. Making it hard to see how it could be a bigger problem today then 20 or 30 years ago. Possible, but doesn't seem to be probable.

The Asian carp and/or zebra mussels could be changing the food chain such that the bluebills are eating a higher fraction of the animals that concentrate these heavy metals. This seem like a stretch, but stranger things have happened.

Seems like it has to be a result of a recent change. Asian carp is a big one. Zebra mussels have been around longer, but that is another big one.

Just my 2 cents for what it is worth.
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Postby DVRDCK » Wed Oct 15, 2008 12:32 pm

You can see how a post like this stimulates everyone to question what may be wrong and how once someone poses their opinion how quickly someone can counter with their own argument.

In the Northwest, we have witnessed millions of dollars spent by state and federal agencies on salmon research. In my opinion this kind of research is moot, because whatever 'cause' is arrived at is only countered by someone else who opposes the research. Research that studies how dams affect salmon is only countered by studies that show, with equal persuasiveness, how dams don't affect salmon. The end result is that not much gets accomplished that benefit anyone.

Take Ducks Unlimied for example. In my opinion, this organization has been most effective for their efforts to preserve habitat and legistlate. Yet, a significant percentage of their operating budget is associated with studies.

Irregardless of what the 'cause' may be attributing to the decline of duck species, in my opinion organizations like DU might be more effective if they promoted activities and legislation (taken from the Natural Step) that would:

#1 - Promote or legislate ways to reduce our economic dependence on persistent human-made substances. Its clear that we should eliminate any systematic increases in persistent substances such as synthetic organic compounds. These man-made substances can remain in the environment for many years, bio-accumulating in the tissue of organisms and causing profound deleterious effects on predators in the upper levels of the food chain.

#2 - Avoid taking more from the biosphere than can be replenished naturally. In addition, we must avoid systematically encroaching upon nature by destroying the habitat of other species. Biodiversity provides the foundation for ecosystem services which are necessary to sustain life on this planet. The health and prosperity of our society depends on the enduring capacity of nature to renew itself and rebuild waste into resources.

If big business could eliminate persistent human-made substances AND if mankind could create biodiversity faster than it is being destroyed, I wonder how much of a positive of an effect this would have upon all environmental problems?
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Postby ctbduck » Wed Oct 15, 2008 4:26 pm

duckinfool its funny you say that cuz you actually have no idea what obamas stance is on the 2nd amendment. I bet you would actually agree with it. dont just regergintate what you heard someone else say.
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Postby SpinnerMan » Wed Oct 15, 2008 4:52 pm

It depends on whether you believe Obama today when it is in his interest to appear moderate on gun control or in the past when it wasn't.

He was wildly liberal in his home district. But who knows, maybe he really had a change of heart :rofl: What are you willing to bet on?

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0308/9269.html
This is the most interesting part of that survey
http://www.politico.com/static/PPM43_080328_obama_iviquestionaire_091096.htmlAt the very end he supports legislation to ban the manufacture, sale, and possession of handguns, the ban of assault weapons (which always includes semi-auto shotguns in the first draft), and waiting periods. Not exactly pro-2nd amendment thinking.

The only relevent questions are what legislation do you think he will sign that is put before him by the Democrat Congress and what do you think the Judges he will appoint think about the 2nd Amendment. In reality, that is the only role a President has. The same is true for all of his and McCains policies. It's not what they want or say they want to do, but what legislation will they likely get placed on their desk and what will they do with it that matters.
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Postby dudejcb » Wed Oct 15, 2008 5:03 pm

Spinner and duckinfool,

when the end comes and Obama and his socialist minions take our freedoms and toss our guns into the lake... you can say it's my fault cuz you told me so and I wouldn't listen.

gotta go, they're starting up the gas chambers.... err... the group showers. See you on the other side... of the debate.

gotta go get a six-pack and some chips, get settled in front of the TV and watch Obama and McCain go at it. I'm gonna play a drinking game. Every time McCain say "my friends" or "Ayers" I gulp. when Obama says "folks" or "middle class" or "Jane you ignorant slut" I gulp. should be fun.
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Postby SpinnerMan » Wed Oct 15, 2008 5:41 pm

I don't get it. What was wrong with anything I said?

He clearly laid out his positions in voter surveys and they were extreme liberal. In disputable fact.

When questioned, he said some aide did it. Another fact.

Then they show that was a lie. Another fact.

Clearly he is taking moderate positions today. Another fact.

Both are politically expedient positions. You can believe what you want, but they are still the facts.

I suggested a more important way to look at the issues. I assume you would agree that is the more appropriate way to look at the issues and come to your conclusion. The President doesn't write legislation. Senators and Congressmen do. He just signs it or vetoes it. The Congress will be Democratically controlled. I hope not, but it would take a miracle. The question is who do you want deciding what laws are signed and vetoed? The 2nd Amendment is a constitutional issue ultimately decided by the Supreme Court, so the Presidents only real role is appointing Judges.

I'm highly partisan, but this was a down the middle post that is informative and directed at ctbduck's question. I reported and you can decide.

You added nothing but babble. Much appreciated. I guess that is a concession that everything I said was true.

I read this early and I feel the same way.
Voting for Obama anyway
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Postby carsonr2 » Wed Oct 15, 2008 7:50 pm

SpinnerMan wrote:Knowing nothing about bluebills. I've seen two that I could positively ID in my life. I didn't realize they eat primarily filter feeding organism. There are new voracious filter feeders that has enterred the Mississippi River Basin recently. The hated Asian carp are dominating the biomass in large stretches of the river basin. This raises the question.

Are the Asian carp reducing the winter food supply for the bluebills?

The pollution seems quite unlikely because pollution has been around for a long time and generally has gotten better and not worse. Making it hard to see how it could be a bigger problem today then 20 or 30 years ago. Possible, but doesn't seem to be probable.

The Asian carp and/or zebra mussels could be changing the food chain such that the bluebills are eating a higher fraction of the animals that concentrate these heavy metals. This seem like a stretch, but stranger things have happened.

Seems like it has to be a result of a recent change. Asian carp is a big one. Zebra mussels have been around longer, but that is another big one.

Just my 2 cents for what it is worth.


Point source pollution has gotten better in some cases, but the culprit (for heavy metal and fertilizer contamination) non-point source pollution has gotten much worse. There is much more impervious surface now then there was 20-30 years ago. Agricultural practices have consistently changed as well with the removal of buffers allowing runoff to impact creeks, streams and ponds. Things will hopefully start to stabilize then decline with time, the way new storm water regulations are heading.

It very well could be the Asian Carp, that's a good point. I don't know the answer for the declining bluebills, but I hope some biologists can figure this one out in time. I'm just a storm water guy and like all around clean water for the overall health of the ecosystem.
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Postby DVRDCK » Thu Oct 16, 2008 3:52 pm

[quote="SpinnerMan"]It depends on whether you believe Obama today when it is in his interest to appear moderate on gun control or in the past when it wasn't.

Your posts on politics are NOT relevant to the post. Please find another more appropriate forum.
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Postby SpinnerMan » Fri Oct 17, 2008 8:10 am

DVRDCK wrote:Your posts on politics are NOT relevant to the post. Please find another more appropriate forum.
Just responding to ctbduck's post. Then to dude's babble.

carsonr2 wrote:Point source pollution has gotten better in some cases, but the culprit (for heavy metal and fertilizer contamination) non-point source pollution has gotten much worse. There is much more impervious surface now then there was 20-30 years ago. Agricultural practices have consistently changed as well with the removal of buffers allowing runoff to impact creeks, streams and ponds. Things will hopefully start to stabilize then decline with time, the way new storm water regulations are heading.
That reminds me I need to fertilize my lawn, put on a broad leaf weed killer, crab grass killer, and some grub killer. :no: I can definitely see what your talking about in the Chicago suburbs, but everybody needs a perfectly manicured lawn :rolleyes:

If you've never seen the Asian carp in person, they can't be doing good things to the ecosystem. They are a ton of fun, if you don't mind getting hit by a big fish flying through the air.
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Postby Tom Phillips* » Fri Oct 17, 2008 10:00 am

DVRDCK wrote:
Your posts on politics are NOT relevant to the post. Please find another more appropriate forum.


DVRDCK,

Your posts and this thread are not relevant to this forum. You have a very naive view of what problems may or may not exist in the biosphere, and a similarly naive view of what others (individuals and organizations) should do about it - at your direction, no less.

What have YOU done?
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Postby dudejcb » Mon Oct 20, 2008 9:33 am

must be jump on DVRDCK day... or hijack a thread month.

How bout Powell endorsing Obama.
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Postby DVRDCK » Mon Oct 20, 2008 11:04 am

Tom Phillips* wrote:
DVRDCK wrote:

What have YOU done?


Dear Mr. Phillips - Regarding what I've done in my life, with regard to this topic, I've dedicated my life to it.

My college degree is in wetlands biology with an emphasis on wetlands. I dedicated my career to wetlands ecology and founded a non-profit organization promoting the very concepts outlined here. I am lifetime member of DU and have served on the board of directors for two environmental organizations that confront these issues with great regularity.

This post was not intentioned to be about "ME" and what I've done, because thats frankly boring; however, you did ask a question and I obliged you with an answer.

Nor was it my intention for the post to be about gun control or either Presidential candidate (unless the policy positions of the candidates directly related to this topic, which based on several of the replies clearly do not).

If you feel that I have a very "naive view of what problems may or may not exist in the world", I would have liked to have read why you feel this way. Perhaps you could get me to see this topic from another (your) perspective.
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Postby Tom Phillips* » Mon Oct 20, 2008 11:54 am

DVRDCK wrote: If you feel that I have a very "naive view of what problems may or may not exist in the world", I would have liked to have read why you feel this way. Perhaps you could get me to see this topic from another (your) perspective.


Okay, my comments are in red.

DVRDCK wrote:I read an the St. Paul Pioneer Press that was interesting on the topic of what may be causing declining populations of bluebill. The article really made me think, which I will elaborate upon later. Here is the excerpt of the article, with my comments at the end:

"may be..." No data.

Biologists pose numerous hypotheses for the bluebill population decline. One hypothesis purports that contaminants -- specifically chromium and selenium -- are "bioaccumulating" in female bluebills and impacting their survival, reproduction and, ultimately, population growth.

Students at Winona Senior High School, read the latest research on contaminants in migrating and breeding bluebills and wondered how these contaminants got into scaup habitat. Growing up along the Mississippi River in Winona, the students learned about water quality testing for these contaminants and proposed for our high school science projects that bluebills might be eating contaminated invertebrates.

To test the hypothesis, they collected thousands of invertebrates from wetlands and waterways in Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. These included invertebrates commonly consumed by scaup such as scuds, midge larvae, fingernail clams, snails and exotic zebra mussels.

The results were surprising. Zebra mussels, known for their water-filtering ability, contained low concentrations of chromium and selenium, while amphipods contained the greatest concentrations of chromium. They also found fingernail clams to contain alarming levels of selenium, exceeding the environmental quality threshold for these invertebrates. Wetlands surrounded by more developed land harbored invertebrates with increased concentrations of chromium and selenium.

So what does this mean for bluebills? We don't understand the full consequences of contaminants yet, hence research must continue. For example, we need a better understanding of the distribution of wetlands with environmental contaminants, when bluebills are consuming contaminated invertebrates and whether this foraging is impacting scaup survival and reproduction.

Indeed, improved habitat -- and greater availability of invertebrate foods -- can help "heal" duck and other wildlife populations and stimulate population growth.


Fellow hunters, we need to ask ourself a question: Does the world really need chromium, selenium and other heavy metals in our lives?

Well, maybe. It depends on how you want to live your life. Are you wearing animal skins you tanned yourself and living on the land? Probably not, since you are at a computer.

We may not have a resource to enjoy in the future if as a society we create man-made substances faster than they can be broken down naturally (or in the case of many toxic substances such as dioxins, DDT and PCBs, they may never break down but continue to become more concentrated in the animals that digest them).

In my opinion, it doesn't matter whether the companies that make these substances feel that they are safe or not.

Okay, that's an incredibly naive statement for example. Is society supposed to depend on the whims of your baseless opinions? It seems that's what you want.

That misses the point; we simply cannot add something to our world if it cannot break down safely and naturally. Otherwise, you get what we have here which are substances that never existed in the diet of the bluebill before, now readily persist. The result is higher and higher concentrations of a foreign matter in the food chain and who wants that?

Life is a trade-off. What are you willing to give up? Plus, your conclusions are so far, unfounded.

Certainly not me, because I not only have a passion to hunt bluebills, I also eat duck. And who wants to eat something that has concentrations of man-made substances?

Naive general statement. Does anyone here consume drinks sweetened with artificial sweeteners?

Whether the question of declining bluebill populations is a resource conservation issue or not, also misses the point.

WHAT? Isn't this the primary point of your rant?

Its clear to me that we cannot pursue a sustainable path with regard to our natural resources if the breeding and feeding resources for bluebills are being depleted or degraded faster than they can be re-generated naturally or the ecosystem is manipulated in favor of other priorities (such as altering wetlands for development).

That's a pretty big IF to lay on bluebill habitat.

I wish we could all agree that our world needs to change how we address these problems. Spending research money on what factors may be attributing to the decline of duck species like the scaup is pointless, because whatever is ultimately agreed upon as a cause will be countered with someone saying these substances or these practices are safe and cause no harm.

So, we don't have the research to drawn thoughtful conclusions, and we don't need the research because someone will contest that research? Ummm, isn't that what science is ALL about. It is.

Unfortunately, in the end NO consensus will be reached and in the case of the bluebill, whose populations have been declining since the 1950’s, not much has been done to help them.

So help them yourself.

In my opinion, there must be some truth about the declining population of the bluebill, and any other duck species for that matter, that everyone can agree on.

Well, what is it? Let me help you out a little bit: Protect and Create new habitat. Optimize habitat that already exists.

There must be some truth that everyone can agree upon whether you are a farmer, a hunter, a chemical company executive or a building developer and perhaps this is it:

1. It seems to make common sense that man cannot create a new substance if that substance cannot break down faster than the natural alternative it is trying to replace.

Too general a statement. I disagree.

2. It also seems to make common sense that the natural resources for ducks cannot be depleted or degraded faster than they can be re-generated naturally.

Okay, I'll agree somewhat with that. [See your bet, and raise you.] We can create new habitat, and optimize habitat by ourselves -- that is, by the hand of man.

If we could agree upon these two principles as our fundamental policy on how we address all environmental matters, do you reasonable believe the bluebill populations would continue to decline?

My gut instincts tell me that all duck species would improve.

What are your thoughts?


The world generally doesn't care that much about duck populations. Most people want to live lives that degrade our environment. Some of them want someone else (the government usually) to take resources from others, and use them for their whims. You probably recognize these people.

I love the land, love the wildlife it supports, and know that the land can support much more wildlife than it currently does. I really don't want the government to take a dollar from me and others to give back one cent of improvement, and twenty cents of harassment, keeping the rest.

I'd rather put a dime to work myself.

How about you?

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Postby dudejcb » Mon Oct 20, 2008 12:14 pm

I tend to agree with Dvrdck.

he's right about studies that indicate on ting being contradicted by other studies funded from the other side. Can you say Climate change?

He'sa also right about non-biodegradable substances. When PCB's were invented it looked great. The molecules formed in the shape of a dodecahedron (sp?) (Pyramid like) so that they were very stable and were a great insulator. They got used everywhere electric equipment needed to be insulated and cooled (in transformer and capacitor oils). Who knew about cancer will much later?

Tom, peple are bedoming more concerned about the environment. McDonalds and other fast food retailer are switching to biodegradabe packaging made from recycled materials and going away from styrofoam.

Not sure why you (Tom) want to have this discussion cuz you're on the wrong side of it and will lose.

Selenium is not man-made and is an essential nutrient n very samll quantities. it occurs naturally. what is unnatural about it is that man tends to concentrate it throrugh mining and irrigation practices so that the runoff from both have very high selenuim concentrations. In the 1980's ducks nesting in the San Joaquin valley were hatching deformed chicks on settling ponds and refuge lands where runoff from irrigated cotton growers was used to flood the refuge or simple held in settling basins that the ducks used.

Chromium has been used as a fungicide in cooling towers for quite a while (to prevent Legionaires disease among other things).

Anyway, DVRDCK is correct. We produce things much faster than nature (err, evolution) can respond to. So it's worth our while to try and do things in ways that do not distort the natural world so mcuh as we have in the recent past.
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Postby KAhunter » Mon Oct 20, 2008 2:26 pm

just a thought... i looked into this asian carp thing and it just made me wonder... we basically drove redfish and stripers almost to the point of no return, to a point of closed fishing all year round, and very limited catch limits now and no commercial fishing(for redfish that is)... how can we not figure out a way to get rid of thses carp?? we have done it before why cant we do it now
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Postby DVRDCK » Mon Oct 20, 2008 2:52 pm

I appreciate your passionate position, but does your very response validate my point that most scientific debates on environmental issues end in arguments over “data” and who is right and who is wrong?

For every study that claims that there is a threshold at which PCB’s will harm the reproductively of eagles, there are similar studies that claim those thresholds are acceptable. You might hear, for instance:

"That has not been definitively established yet" ... or .... "Yes, that has now been clearly established" .... or .... "Laboratory results have identified that toxins play a far more destructive role," and so on and so on.

Arguing over these peripheral issues doesn’t address the primary issue of dealing with environmental problems at the systemic level. Let’s walk through the above example (as offered up the Natural Step):

1. Is PCB a naturally occurring substance? No, it is artificially manufactured by man. All scientists agree on that.
2. Is it chemically stable, or does it quickly degrade into harmless substances? It is stable and persistent. On that they all agree, as well.
3. Does it accumulate in organisms? Yes it does.
4. Is it possible to predict the tolerance limits of such a stable, unnatural substance? No, since the complexity of ecosystems is essentially limitless. Nevertheless, it is known that all such substances have limits, often very low, which cannot be exceeded.
5. Can we continue to introduce such substances into the ecosystem? Not if we want to survive.

The end conclusion is what should drive action; unfortunately, however, most public debate is preoccupied with arguing over the minor details that have no bearing on the conclusion.

Accepting the fact that kinds of substances shouldnt exist at all will be a hard reality for those companies that choose to operate their business as usual. Eventually they will hit the wall and go out of business. Just like all petroleum must come to the realization that petroleum is not a sustainable product; certainly petroleum companies realize that their businesses will be adversely affected the day no more oil can be produced. To think petroleum will last forever is to be naive.

However, those companies that invest in developing sustainably-based products will flourish.

Like you, I really don't want the government to take a dollar from me to address these problems either. I also don’t believe legislating these issues will fix all of our problems … just like legislating automobile manufacturers to adopt minimum mileage requirements will not solve our energy crisis.

The real solutions will come from visionary companies that will develop alternative technologies that focus on sustainable solutions. When consumers vote on these products, not the unsustainable alternatives, is when real change will occur. Just look at what is happening with the organic food movement which is significantly changing agriculture. Consumers have single handedly created a market by voting on products.
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Postby SpinnerMan » Mon Oct 20, 2008 3:51 pm

KAhunter wrote:just a thought... i looked into this asian carp thing and it just made me wonder... we basically drove redfish and stripers almost to the point of no return, to a point of closed fishing all year round, and very limited catch limits now and no commercial fishing(for redfish that is)... how can we not figure out a way to get rid of thses carp?? we have done it before why cant we do it now
They are definitely trying to figure a way to do just that, but on purpose this time.

A couple problems to overcome.

Asian carp are filter feeders, so they are very difficult to catch by fishermen. I bowfish for them and have had far more jump in the boat than I've shot. I get hit by more fish than I hit. I guess you could say they are winning, but my shooting is getting better, so the score is getting closer.

They are very prolific and fast growing. I don't know how old they are when they start to spawn, but my guess is they aren't very old.

They are good to eat, but they have a strange bone structure and you can't get a boneless fillet. They are big, so picking bones isn't as big a deal. They are also soft and you need to get them on ice quick. They are also called carp. This makes them less than the most desirable table fare. Currently, they are uneconomical to fish for commercially, I would assume for these reasons, because they are easy to catch in commercial nets. They are looking to develop commercial markets. This would be a huge help.
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