Duck Banding in Canada Proves Informative and Inspirational for Regional Biologist
For Immediate Release
October 10, 2014
For many years, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Canadian Wildlife Service have conducted an ongoing duck banding partnership effort in Canada. The Western Canada Cooperative Banding Program, as it is called, provides opportunities for duck banding at summer breeding grounds at over 20 sites across the Canadian prairie. Over the past 12 years, participants have banded over 100,000 ducks at the banding sites.
In August, Amanda Horvath, Fish and Wildlife Biologist with the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program in the Mountain-Prairie Region, was assigned to a four-person banding crew based in Saskatchewan, Canada. Under the tutelage of Walt Rhodes, her crew leader, she and the other crew members banded just under 4,000 ducks—including mallards, blue-winged teals, green-winged teals, northern pintails, redheads, and canvasbacks.
Banding and subsequent recoveries of waterfowl, with an emphasis on mallards, provides critical management information on harvest rates, age composition, migratory pathway, annual survival, and geographic derivation of the harvest. These data, in conjunction with population surveys and wings collected from hunters, provide the scientific framework for managing populations.
Trapping and banding must be conducted with great care to avoid mortality that can occur because of predation or extremes of weather. The top opening of traps are covered with fabric mesh to avoid injury to trapped birds. If predation occurs at a trap site, the trap will be moved and the site abandoned unless effective preventative measures can be implemented. Adequate floats are installed in each trap so captured birds can leave the water to preen, and thus avoid becoming waterlogged. If any birds become soaked or muddy, they are released without banding and the circumstances giving rise to this situation are remedied immediately. The safety of the birds is the highest priority.
For participants like Amanda, the experience was unforgettable.
“The opportunity for me to leave my desk for the month and experience conservation and management work first hand was an experience I will not soon forget,” she said. “The chance to learn from some of the Service’s finest biologists how to accurately age and sex birds by looking at their wing and to correctly band a bird was incredible. I have come back from this detail with a greater understanding of the process of banding ducks and the importance of the data that these bands provide. “
– FWS –