If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck ... Ducks Unlimited wants to protect its habitat. The not-for-profit group works to conserve, manage, and restore wetlands and other waterfowl habitat through projects across North America and in more than 10 South American countries. With more than 12.4 million acres under its care, DU's efforts are aimed at ducks but also benefit more than 900 other wildlife species. Most of the organization's members and volunteers are sport hunters and DU puts out a magazine, cable TV show, and daily radio show for them. It also offers training in hunter ethics, firearm safety, and conservation and programs for children. DU was founded in 1937 and has more than 550,000 members.
The group operates as a grassroots, volunteer-based non-profit organization. Volunteers host fund-raising events, such as shooting and fishing tournaments, golf outings, and member and sponsor banquets. DU's conservation mission receives significant support through a series of partnerships with private individuals, landowners, agencies, scientific institutes, and other communities.
DU claims a North American focus; some 50% of all acreage conserved in 2011 was located in Canada. But, because migratory waterfowl know no geopolitical boundaries, the group's efforts and influence have spread across Mexico, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, and the Caribbean.
In 2011, DU raised $167.3 million, a 9% growth in revenue, 81% of which went toward its conservation mission. (Its goal is to spend at least 80% on conservation projects.) Revenue and support have approached $3.5 billion since its founding. In 2010, the group completed its seven-year Wetlands for Tomorrow campaign, raising $1.88 billion, which exceeded DU's goal by roughly $200 million.
DU's mission continues to take aim at expanding coastal marshes for waterfowl, as well as prairie potholes for breeding ducks and flyway wetlands for migrating waterfowl. Its success in 2011 was measured in conservation easements across 50,000 acres and restored or improved environments (some 215,000 acres) for waterfowl and other wildlife. As a result, duck populations climbed to a record high. – less