Two of the most significant management efforts affecting waterfowl populations in North America are the North American Waterfowl Management Plan (the Plan) and Federal harvest management programs. Both the Plan and harvest management are continental in scope, involve an extensive group of stakeholders, and rely on adaptive processes of biological planning, implementation, and evaluation. The development of these programs has occurred independently, however, and there has been little explicit recognition that both harvest and habitat effects should be considered for coherent management planning and evaluation. For example, the harvest strategy can affect whether population objectives of the Plan are met, irrespective of the success of the Plan's habitat conservation efforts. Conversely, habitat conservation activities under the Plan can influence harvest potential and, therefore, the amount of hunting opportunity provided. It seems increasingly clear that the Plan's waterfowl population objectives can only be useful for conservation planning and evaluation if they are accompanied by an explicit specification of the harvest strategy and environmental conditions under which they are to be achieved. This clarification also is necessary to ensure that Plan population objectives are not attained solely through the reduction of hunting opportunity. We believe then that it is imperative that these key waterfowl-management programs work to harmonize their objectives. Harvest management programs and the Plan ought to be working toward the same ends, but that is not possible so long as the mutually reinforcing relationship of these programs is obscured by ambiguities in their management objectives.
adaptive harvest management
maximum sustainable yield
North American Waterfowl Management Plan