Protecting our fine feathered friends

Who among us hasn’t, at one time or another, gazed upon a bird in flight and marvelled at it … or even wondered what it would be like to fly?

Ducks Unlimited calls us to do more than just wonder — to become actively involved in caring for and protecting Canadian wetlands.

Kevin Bowers, who describes himself as “a good follower,” is a Ducks Unlimited fundraising committee member. And Erin Spiewak is a conservation program specialist, one of two biologists who work at Ducks Unlimited in the Yukon.

Both are pumped about the upcoming fundraiser, which Bowers calls “quite a milestone”. “Twenty-five years is no small feat for a fundraising event — “

“All based on volunteers,” Spiewak interjects.

“If the community didn’t fall in … it wouldn’t last,” Bowers continues, adding that this event as a milestone because of its longevity and because of keen interest, by community members, in what the organization is doing.

“[The fundraiser] is one of those attractions that just lure people in,” he says. The live auction sets this event apart from many others. “It’s the thrill of bidding; it’s the thrill of watching the bidding …

“Instead of the evening winding down, it winds up.”

The funds raised will be dispersed for the conservation of Canada’s wetlands and the ducks and other species that inhabit them.

“Ducks Unlimited has matured tremendously over the years,” Bowers says, explaining that they partner with government groups, similar-interest groups and that they are involved in educating the community about wildlife and about the stewardship of wildlife and wetlands.

Spiewak says they are also active in the reconstruction and restoration of wetlands. “Waterfowl breed throughout the boreal forest,” she says, indicating the widespread area of interest in the Yukon.

Their mandate, Bowers explains, includes identification and education, protection and utilization. For example, an area identified as in need of protection may get special consideration for hunting and trapping regulations.

Ducks Unlimited works with communities, First Nations, land claims and renewable resource councils in conserving wetlands. One example, Spiewak cites, is their partnership with Vuntut Gwich’in First Nation in conserving the Whitefish Wetlands.

“We’re a science-based organization,” she explains. “We collect information to inform different management processes.”

“It’s an opportunity to enhance a certain area based on science-based knowledge,” Bowers confirms, adding that that is why proper information is vital.

Bowers says they steer clear of the moniker “endangered species”: “We’re very fortunate in the Yukon where that’s not necessarily the case.

Instead, they take a proactive stance in limiting the impact in an area; for example, Bowers says, “Crossing an area may need to be done in winter instead of summer where heavy equipment may damage an area.”

Bowers and Spiewak have promoted Ducks Unlimited with Grade 4 and 6 students. There’s even a magazine, Puddler, tailored to that age. There’s one for adults, too: Conservator.

The Ducks Unlimited Dinner will be held April 24 at 6 p.m. at the Westmark Whitehorse Hotel. It will feature both a silent and a live auction of limited-edition prints, collectibles and home accents. Tickets are available at the office (2076 2nd Avenue) from 8:30 a.m. To 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday.

To learn more about Ducks Unlimited, call the office at 668-3824, visit

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