Waterfowl bands have a special place in waterfowl hunting, and they are part of a long-running program where wildlife managers trap waterfowl, usually during late summer, and place small metal bands on the legs of ducks and geese to track migrations and populations.
As those banded birds migrate, they are frequently harvested by hunters, recaptured by researchers or eventually found dead from other causes, and the information on the band is relayed back to the U.S. Geological Survey and entered into a database. This banding data, in addition to breeding population estimates and harvest data, is the backbone of this study.
In Idaho, Fish and Game biologists trap and band thousands of ducks across the state as part of this federal program. The state's hunters are responsible for reporting thousands of bands from the birds they harvest.
“This is really a tremendous example of successful citizen science. By reporting waterfowl bands, hunters have really helped waterfowl managers across the continent gain a ton of valuable information on waterfowl, not just for migration, but also on harvest, survival and reproduction," said Jeff Knetter, Fish and Game upland game and migratory game bird coordinator. "The information hunters provide when they report banded birds they harvest plays a direct role in developing appropriate hunting regulations and conservation strategies for waterfowl.”
If you've shot a duck or goose with a band, you should report it. You can become part of the circle of research and information that is key to ensuring thriving populations of future waterfowl. After reporting, hunters receive a certificate of appreciation that includes where the bird was banded and how old it was at the time of banding.
For more information on waterfowl hunting in Idaho, hunters can pick up a 2021-2022 Migratory Game Bird brochure from a licensed vendor or from your local Fish and Game regional office. Hunters may also download season and regulations info for free, as well as licenses and permits, on the Go Outdoors Idaho app available on the App Store or Google Play store.