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Hunters asked to report banded birds when found

From the Indiana Department of Natural Resources

-- The Indiana Department of Natural Resources asks hunters and anyone else who comes across Canada geese, mourning doves or wood ducks that have been banded to report the information on the band to the national Bird Banding Laboratory.

Reports can be filed by calling (800) 327-BAND  [(800) 327-2263] or online at The data collected are compiled by the BBL and sent to program participants twice a year.

“It is important that hunters and others report any bird bands they recover,” said DNR waterfowl biologist Adam Phelps. "Goose-banding data are used heavily by biologists, particularly in efforts to improve hunter opportunity.

Band returns gave the DNR much of the data that supported the case to abolish the SJBP hunting zone in Indiana, and indicate how well the February seasons target urban geese, as well as other important information.
“When we band geese, we attach an aluminum band to one leg,” Phelps said. Since each band has a unique number on it, this allows biologists to identify each bird that has ever been banded, if it is captured again or harvested by a hunter.

“When we put a band on a bird, we have a point on a map where we know that bird has been,” Phelps said. “That bird may be caught again next year, or harvested by a hunter, or hit by a car, or a birder may read the band number through binoculars. As long as that person reports the band, we now have another point on a map for that bird. Two points give us a line. With thousands of such lines, we can develop movement patterns for these geese.”  

Indiana’s breeding geese move around much more than most people think. Birds banded in June in Indiana have been harvested by hunters from Idaho to Delaware, and from Hudson Bay in Canada to Alabama.

Bird banding provides more than information on movement patterns. With enough reported bands, biologists can determine survival rates and harvest rates (the rate at which geese area taken by hunters).

Phelps is currently analyzing goose-banding data from 1986-2007, which suggest that hunters take a high proportion of geese that are relocated from urban areas to Fish and Wildlife Areas. This is important information because it means that a strategy of moving birds from places where they conflict with humans to FWAs is likely to be an effective strategy for reducing these populations.

Personnel from the DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife placed leg bands on 4,474 Canada geese this summer, surpassing the previous record of 3,656 geese banded during 2008.

In addition to standard aluminum leg bands, the DNR also attaches plastic leg bands to Canada geese relocated from urban areas to FWAs. These bands are much more noticeable from a distance, and help determine rates at which these birds return to conflict situations.

Data from all three banded game bird species are used not just at the state level, but also are combined with data from other states to provide a larger-scale picture of migration and survival rates. Indiana also uses banding data from other states to determine which portions of the Canada goose harvest that occurs in Indiana originated in other states and Canadian provinces.

In addition to banding that the Indiana DNR does, other states, provinces, and the federal governments of the U.S. and Canada band many other species of birds, including mallards and other ducks, woodcock, and many species of songbird. Reporting any of these birds' bands that are recovered is important to the management of these species as well.    

Because these species of birds are migratory, jurisdiction for their management lies with the federal government. The Bird Banding Laboratory, a federal agency within the U.S. Geological Survey, is responsible for the management of all migratory bird banding in the U.S.

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