CONCORD — New Hampshire Fish and Game wildlife biologists have completed the annual effort of attaching hundreds of metal bands to ducks throughout the Granite State. The pre-season banding effort is conducted in U.S. states and Canadian provinces throughout the Atlantic Flyway in August and September. This undertaking provides survival-rate data, which are used in conjunction with breeding-plot data and HIP (National Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program) survey data for the statistical model that is then used to determine the annual season regulations and bag limits in the spring.

Each metal band has a unique sequence of numbers, and biologists record the species, age, and sex of each duck before it is released. At the end of the season, all the data are submitted to the Bird Banding Lab at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Maryland. When a hunter harvests a duck with a metal band, or a wildlife viewer reads the band through a spotting scope, they are asked to report the information to a website provided on the band (www.reportband.gov). It takes just a few minutes to report the encounter. You may see a phone number inscribed on the band also, but the call center supporting the toll-free phone number has been discontinued. Please report band recoveries online at www.reportband.gov or by sending your information to: Bird Banding Lab, 12100 Beach Forest Road, Laurel, MD 20708.

“Please take the time to report your band sightings as it is a huge help to our program,” said Wildlife Biologist Jessica Carloni, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department’s Waterfowl Biologist. “A substantial amount of effort went into putting these markers on, and these band reports provide important management data. It’s also very interesting to learn about how old the duck is and where it was banded.”

This year, a total of 752 ducks were banded in New Hampshire before the hunting seasons began. Banded birds included 391 mallards, 342 wood ducks, 7 black ducks, 7 green-winged teal, and 5 blue-winged teal. After 33 consecutive years of pre-season duck banding, 14,696 ducks have now been banded in New Hampshire.

Banding ducks is not a simple undertaking. Biologists invest a considerable amount of time in baiting to attract ducks to locations best suited for banding. Numerous capture techniques exist for catching ducks; the two most widely used in New Hampshire are bait traps and rocket nets. Bait traps are simple enclosures with a closing-door mechanism to trap ducks. Rocket nets have three rockets attached to a large net. When the ducks are close enough, biologists trigger a detonator, which fires the rockets, propelling the net into the air, then catching the group of ducks unharmed underneath. Bait traps accounted for 66% of the ducks banded this year and rocket nets 34% of captures.

“We are extremely grateful to private landowners for allowing us access to their property to band ducks,” said Carloni. “Their support makes the collection of this valuable information possible.”

Late season waterfowl hunting opportunities remain available in New Hampshire. Learn more by visiting www.huntnh.com/hunting/waterfowl.html.

Waterfowl management is funded by Wildlife Restoration Grants administered by the US Fish and Wildlife Services, Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program: Partnering to fund conservation and connect people with nature. To learn more visit www.wildnh.com/funding/wsfr.html.

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