Banding Waterfowl Not Just for Trophies by Stefan Cornelissen-Prairies Edge Outfitting Pro-Staff
Every Saskatchewan waterfowl hunters dream is to shoot a banded duck or goose. Shooting a banded bird tells a story, not only of the bird’s life and countless miles north and south, but the story of the hard work and dedication by the hunter. Bird banding has been used since the 16th century, and has been used to track birds and their migration since the late 19th century, when a system was developed to band birds and track them across North America (USGS). Although most hunters think of bird bands solely for their trophy status, the importance of bird banding and their associated encounters is important for biologists to determine population, seasonal ranges, migration routes, as well as age, health and longevity of various species. Most hunters can relate to banded waterfowl, but there is more to the overall picture. Prairies Edge Outfitting shoots many banded birds annually, but the importance of registering the band online or by phone to the U.S. geological Survey cannot be stressed enough. Years of data can be finalized when reporting a band. In the Canadian Province of Saskatchewan, hundreds of waterfowl that have bands are shot by duck and goose hunters annually. Since 1960, there has been the following band encounters within the province of Saskatchewan:
9668 Canada goose band encounters, 28,365 Mallard duck band encounters, 3,623 Ross’s goose band encounters, 4,222 snow goose band encounters, 4,815 White-fronted Goose band encounters, 1721 Northern Pintail band encounters.
Prairies Edge Outfitting is situated it the very top of the annual migration staging area and often encounters banded waterfowl. The data collected in Saskatchewan can be used to help determine the hunting pressure on certain species. For example, if the data collected shows that there is large number of juvenile Canada geese being shot during evening hunts in the early season. This indicates that hunting pressure may be exceeding the natural harvest vulnerability of these birds that can be harvested as a sustainable resource. In Saskatchewan, Dark geese (Canada, specks) are only able to be shot before 12:00 noon from September 1 – October 15, for this reason. I am also writing a research paper right now on Snow Geese and their recent success as a population, and their detrimental effects on the Canadian arctic tundra. I discuss the importance of hunting as a conservation strategy to control the snow goose population and their environmental effects on the arctic tundra. I will post this article when I finalize my publication process. The Importance of waterfowl banding data has helped biologists determine the population size, range, migration routes, as well as bag limits for hunters. There has been a rumour about increasing the daily bag limit to 50 Snow/Ross’s across Saskatchewan, from its current limit of 20 per day. This could provide great opportunity to Prairies Edge Outfitting and their Spring Snow Goose Hunts, starting next month, and for years to come. In the last 15 years there have been over 5000 snow goose band encounters across Canada, which should give hunters incentive to get out and hunt these ‘sky carp’. Although duck hunting season is over, spring conservation hunts are underway across most of North America. The release of my research paper in the upcoming weeks will help explain the importance of banding snow geese throughout North America. Additional resources can be found on the USGS website. Did you know, the oldest banded mallard ever recorded in Saskatchewan was 21 years, 3 months old!!! That is a lot of migrations and decoy spreads that he experienced (USGS).
The following links will take you to banding data that you can look at.
https://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/BBL/homepage/start.cfm (Banding info for your State)
References and Credits:
Long Point Bird Observatory: Bird Studies Canada. (2014). http://www.birdscanada.org/longpoint/index.jsp?targetpg=lpbo50
USGS- United States geological survey. (2011). http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/
If you would like to book your own waterfowl hunt of a lifetime in Saskatchewan, Canada with Prairies Edge Outfitting, Saskatchewans Finest Waterfowl Outfitter please CONTACT US or Call Mike McLane 403-807-9939 you might even get lucky and shoot a banded duck or goose!
Prairies Edge Outfitting Pro-Staffer Stefan Cornelissen is pictured here with a leg banded Canada Goose