Banding Mallards to Sustain Hunting


Duck season starts on Saturday across Arkansas, and hunters are not the only ones getting ready.  

Dr. Doug Osborne and his students at University of Arkansas at Monticello catch mallards at the end of duck season and attach silver bands to their legs before setting them free.

In the past two winters of research, his team has banded about 1,000 mallards. The research team tests for mercury exposure in ducks. A positive reading would indicate they had been in contaminated water. So far, no samples have been alarming. They also collect biological information from the ducks blood and feathers.

“To look at return rates to the same area, survival rates that actually make it through hunting season… We’re trying to sustain a healthy population for future generations to continue the tradition of hunting,” said Dr. Osborne.

So hunters, if you kill one of the banded ducks, Dr. Osborne is asking you to report the number to the U.S. Geological Survey. That information is added to the national public database and is used to set bag limits for waterfowl hunters.

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