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More Water Allocated For Migratory Birds

Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio

Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is releasing 50,000 acres of water for rice fields in the Sacramento Valley between now and December 10th.

With the release, migrating birds will have about one-third of the water they normally have for the winter.

The agreement is in conjunction with the California Department of Water Resources and eight regional water agencies.

Mark Biddlecomb is the director of Ducks Unlimited. He says the allocations could total 135,000 which would be slightly more than last year.  

"We have a little bit more intentionally flooded than we did last year. But still, if we don't get any rain, I think that we could see some food shortages come January-February even though we're better than we expected to be right now."

Biddlecomb says a lack of diverted water and lack of rainfall contributed to stress on the birds last year.

"We were starting to see avian botulism outbreaks and the ducks were beginning to run out of food and then we had those big December storms. That really kind of saved our bacon if you will. It really helped spread the birds out and opened up a lot more habitat."

Ducks Unlimited expects five million ducks to spend the fall and winter in the Central Valley of California.

Seventy thousand hunters purchase licenses with duck stamps each year.

Bob Moffitt

Sacramento Region Reporter

Bob reports on all things northern California and Nevada. His coverage of police technology, local athletes, and the environment has won a regional Associated Press and several Edward R. Murrow awards.   Read Full Bio 

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