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Ducks Unlimited announces 1 million acres of conserved SD habitat

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ND GFP

Ducks Unlimited, a waterfowl conservation group, has conserved more than 1 million acres of wetland habitat in South Dakota since 1984.

Bruce Toay, who manages conservation programs for the group's South Dakota chapter, said they focus on the state because it's part of the Prairie Pothole Region of the Northern Great Plains — an area that's vital to North American waterfowl.

"That area produces more than two-thirds of all of the continent's waterfowl. So it's really important for us to keep these wetlands intact in this in this region," Toay said.

The wetlands also provide cleaner water, carbon sequestration, flood control and greater biodiversity.

But Toay said this year's duck count was down versus the group's last count in 2019.

"We have seen a bit of a drop in overall duck numbers down to about 20% below where we had back in 2019, but things are looking better than last year," Toay said.

Toay said the number of people who participate in duck hunting has dropped, so the group is also focusing on teaching a new generation responsible hunting skills.

Learn more about Ducks Unlimited here.

Joshua is the business and economics reporter with SDPB News.