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Wetlands ruling worries MI duck hunters

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Monday, November 27, 2023   

Michigan'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.

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

Paul Botts is the executive director and CEO of the Wetlands Initiative and said wetlands are critical to Michigan's way of life and Michiganders need to reach out to their legislators to gain protections.

"Congress, of course, is completely melted down and dysfunctional now," said Botts, "and this issue just simply is not going to rise to the top and cut through the partisan divide that we have. So, the chances of the Clean Water Act being updated are just pretty close to nil."

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.




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