The growth of the aquaculture industry in Mississippi attracted unnaturally large numbers of fish eating birds to the region in the 1980’s and 1990’s. The USDA responded by building a very effective bird management program in cooperation and coordination with the industry and partners, including Delta Wildlife. Market and trade variables created significant setbacks for the Mississippi aquaculture industry in the early 2000’s. During the same period, USDA funding for these efforts shrank to a level that could no longer support field staff. In recent years, the aquaculture industry has stabilized and USDA funding has been strengthened to assist the industry with bird issues again. In 2016, USDA began rebuilding a program to assist with bird depredation in Mississippi. The aquaculture industry cited Delta Wildlife as a potential partner that could provide resources and leverage existing relationships to assist Wildlife Services in re-establishing the program in Mississippi in a timely manner. Furthermore, Delta Wildlife had resources to provide sustaining assistance through technical support and seasonal staff support.
This program is now embarking on its Third year and by all accounts, headed in a great direction. There have been tremendous strides made in communication abilities, relationships with producers, and an overall positive outlook for the program. Delta Wildlife has greatly enjoyed its partnership with USDA-Wildlife Services and sees this as a team effort for not only Delta Wildlife and Wildlife Services but all involved in the aquaculture industry. We hope to be a model for other states and a shining example of cooperation between Government agencies, the private industry entities, and non-governmental organizations such as Delta Wildlife.