The Sacramento Bee’s Matt Weiser penned a long story in this morning’s paper regarding the recent deaths of waterfowl in California that are being tied to the drought, which included an interview with DU’s Western Region Director Mark Biddlecomb:
Adding to the threat this year is that breeding conditions for waterfowl in Canada have been very good. As a result, said Mark Biddlecomb, Western region director of Ducks Unlimited, a record number of birds will fly south this summer and fall in search of wintering habitat. Instead, they’ll find hundreds of thousands of acres of dried up rice fields and shrunken wetlands.
“We’ve got this perfect storm, if you will. And it’s not going to be pretty,” Biddlecomb said. “I think we’re looking at the probability of a food shortage in addition to a disease outbreak. If they don’t go back in excellent condition, they’re not going to be breeding like they would normally, and that will affect the entire flyway from the boreal forests of Canada all the way down to Mexico, frankly.”
Weiser’s story is well done and lays out the numerous challenges waterfowl face as they come south through the Pacific Flyway this fall. With minimal water in Refuges and farmers planting and flooding fewer rice fields, the areas these birds will have to find food and thrive grows smaller by the day, increasing the odds for more outbreaks of disease.