Surveys and Banding Policy

722 FW 1
FWM Number
Originating Office
Division of Migratory Bird Management

1.1 Purpose. The purpose of this chapter is to establish authority and responsibility for the conduct and coordination of migratory bird survey and banding programs by the Office of Migratory Bird Management (MBMO) within the overall mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service).

1.2 Scope. Activities within Part 722 are generally conducted in the United States, Canada, and Mexico and may include participation by any Division, Region, or Office within the Service, as well as counterpart or cooperating Federal, State, local, or private agencies and volunteers, as deemed necessary by the Director of the Service (Director).

1.3 Authority. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, as amended (16 U.S.C. 703-712) and the Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956 (16 U.S.C. 742a-742j) provide the authority to the Service to monitor waterfowl populations as part of the overall migratory bird management program. Specific to survey and banding programs in Canada is Bilateral Agreement #15 R20(5)(B) Cooperative Waterfowl Survey and Banding Program, as signed by the Minister of the Environment (Canada) and the Secretary of the Interior (U.S.). These authorities may be supplemented by other domestic and international treaties, Acts, policies, and agreements deemed necessary by the Director, or the Director’s delegated representatives, for the management and protection of the migratory bird resource.

1.4 Responsibility. The Assistant Director - Refuges and Wildlife is responsible for oversight of the conduct and reporting of annual population, production, and habitat surveys and banding of migratory birds. The Chief, Office of Migratory Bird Management (C-MBMO) directly supervises the conduct of these activities.

1.5 Program Coordination. Both domestic and international coordination is required to properly plan and conduct the annual population and habitat surveys. Authorizations are granted for the following minimum coordination efforts and others, as necessary, that may be approved:

A. Domestic. Each August, the C-MBMO will provide the Director with a listing of personnel and equipment required from the seven Service field Regions for the completion of the various waterfowl, woodcock, dove, and crane surveys, and the Cooperative U.S./Canada Waterfowl Banding Program, for the ensuing fiscal year. The listing will include the required number of field personnel, experience level, and other personnel and equipment needs required by MBMO for completion of each survey or banding program. The Director shall then advise the respective Regional Directors to coordinate directly with MBMO and provide the personnel and equipment required by the due date, via a directive known as the Director's Memorandum of Assignment. Additionally, coordination will be conducted between MBMO, the States, and others interested and involved organizations at various Flyway Technical and Flyway Council meetings to monitor and manage populations of migratory birds specific to certain States and/or Flyways.

B. International. The list referred to in (1) above will also pertain to international efforts. In addition, other preliminary coordination is required for survey and banding programs conducted in Canada and Mexico. The necessity for routine across-the-border travel to Canada and Mexico in order to conduct annual reoccurring workshops and planning sessions with professional counterparts is recognized.

(1) Canada. Specific requirements such as annual diplomatic clearances for aircraft operations, obtained through the U.S. Embassy, as well as coordination through the Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) to Canadian Customs, listing participating personnel, their mode of travel, and anticipated border-crossing points, will be accomplished as required by Canadian officials. Workshops in the U.S. between CWS and Service personnel will be conducted as necessary to ensure the proper planning and execution of annual cooperative survey and banding efforts.

(2) Mexico. Requirements by the Government of Mexico for survey and banding programs conducted in that country may include the necessity to provide personnel and equipment lists 6 months or more in advance of the actual field effort. Both MBMO's Mexico liaison and the Office of International Affairs assists in the preliminary planning for field operations in Mexico.

1.6 Logistics. The logistics of coordinating and conducting the annual survey and banding efforts of the Service, within MBMO, will be determined as delegated by C-MBMO.

A. Personnel Considerations. Some work associated with international and domestic survey and banding programs requires efforts that can be stressful to those who are not in proper physical condition. Individuals with a history of physical problems or not in physical or mental condition necessary to endure 7-days-a-week activities of surveys and banding for extended periods should not be selected to participate.

B. Supervision. Regional and other Service individuals, participating in specified international and domestic survey and banding programs conducted by MBMO, will serve under the direction of and be responsible to, the C-MBMO or a designated representative until the conclusion of the program.

C. Travel. Travel-related requirements for Regional or other Service individuals participating in designated MBMO programs, including travel authorizations, travel advances, and travel instructions, will be the responsibility of MBMO unless other agreements are reached between both cooperating organizations.

D. Salaries and Overtime Compensation. Salaries of Service personnel participating in designated MBMO survey and banding operations will be paid by the participating individual's duty station for the duration of the temporary assignment. Travel costs (per diem and mode of travel) will be paid by MBMO. MBMO will also pay Administratively Uncontrollable Overtime (AUO) and hazardous duty compensation to Service participants in the May/July Breeding Population Surveys, August/September Cooperative Waterfowl Banding Program, and Mid-winter Waterfowl Surveys in Mexico.

E. Vehicles and Equipment. MBMO will supply vehicles and equipment when practical and cost effective to do so. When it becomes necessary for other Service entities to provide additional vehicles and equipment to the international survey and banding programs, those needs will be included in the Director's Memorandum of Assignment, 722 FW 1.5 A (1), to the Regional Directors. MBMO will select vehicles and equipment according to program needs with primary concern for the safety of operating personnel. Vehicles and equipment supplied by Regions will be mechanically sound and selected with care to ensure personnel safety and serviceability of operation. Repairs in excess of those normally encountered, plus additional travel and related expenses incurred as the result of supplying faulty or unserviceable equipment, will be charged back to the respective Region. If General Services Administration (GSA) or rental vehicles are provided in lieu of Service vehicles, they must comply with MBMO requirements and rental costs will be paid by the respective Region. Fuel, routine maintenance, and repairs incurred during the temporary assignment will be paid by MBMO. MBMO will return vehicles in like or better condition than when received, less normal wear and tear.

F. Aircraft Operations. Service-operated aircraft will be maintained according to Service, Office of Aircraft Services (OAS), and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) standards. It is the responsibility of the Service Pilot/Biologist or Agent/Pilot to ensure that the aircraft is properly maintained and mission-ready. The Pilot-in-Command will be the final authority regarding whether or not a mission will be initiated and has the same authority to terminate a mission at any time. Passengers and/or crew members may recommend or request mission actions and have the authority to refuse to participate in a mission. The final authority, responsibility, and accountability for the flight lies with the Pilot-in-Command and nobody exceeds that authority during a flight mission, which includes pre-flight, in-flight, and post-flight procedures.

G. Timing of Survey and Banding Programs. Timing of international and domestic survey and banding programs administered by MBMO will be determined by that office and include sufficient time for travel to and from duty stations. Plans for methods and dates of travel to, from, and during field operations will take into consideration the needs of the program as well as cost-effectiveness. MBMO will be the final judge of the best means of travel as well as inclusive survey and banding dates.

H. Insurance. MBMO will obtain aircraft and automobile liability for all participants in Canada/Mexico survey and banding programs. Operations in the United States are covered by the Tort Claims Act and additional insurance is not required. Individuals participating in aerial survey missions should check their private life insurance policies for coverage when flying as a passenger or crew member while on official business.

I. Funding. The majority of Survey and banding costs will be borne by MBMO, with additional support provided by cooperating Regional, State, Provincial, and other Federal (U.S., Canada, Mexico) offices and agencies per agreement.

Amended by Decision Memorandum, “Approval of Revisions to ~350 Directives to Remove Gender-Specific Pronouns,” 6/22/2022