Southwest Inventory and Monitoring Program assists with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service banding program

During the month of August 2014, Region 2 Division of Biological Science’s Jeremy Edwardson (Wildlife Biologist, Okmulgee, OK), partook in U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s high priority waterfowl banding program in Canada. The waterfowl banding program is a large-scale effort that is essential in monitoring migrating waterfowl and provides crucial information on migratory bird hunting and harvest assessments. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service representatives and other organizations from across North America gather to assist with the banding program every year and is part of a cooperative agreement among Canada, United States, and Mexico.

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Big Grass Crew preparing for a banding session

Jeremy participated on the banding crew based at Big Grass Marsh near Plumas, Manitoba. This 12,400 acre marsh is owned and managed by Ducks Unlimited, and was the first large scale Ducks Unlimited restoration project in Canada. The crew also consisted of Chad Carlson (Biological technician, Sand Lake NWR), Seth Fisher (Wildlife Biologist, Tensas River NWR), and crew leader, Rob Spangler (USFWS Pilot – Wildlife Biologist, Lakewood, CO). In addition, the crew was supported by Canadian Wildlife Service employee, Darin Walker.  During the 2014 Big Grass Marsh banding season, a total of 287 trap nights (August 6-26) resulted in 4,109 ducks banded (870 Mallards, 2,893 Blue-winged Teal, 180 Redheads, 90 Canvasbacks, 50 Wood Ducks, 10 Northern Pintail; 4 American Green-winged Teal, 4 Ruddy Ducks, 3 American Black Ducks, 3 Mallard – American Black Duck hybrids, 1 Northern Shoveler, and 1 Lesser Scaup).

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A full trap of ducks near Big Grass Marsh, Manitoba

This detail provided program participants hands on training and strengthened teamwork characteristics. Specifically, Jeremy was able to develop a larger network of contacts, improved waterfowl identification and capture techniques, strengthened live bird handling experience, and provided opportunities at obtaining airboat operating hours towards his airboat operator certification. All of which will support his role of supporting Oklahoma refuges and the Division of Biological Sciences.

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Jeremy Edwardson with a banded American Black Duck

Despite varying challenges, crews scattered throughout Canada were able to work together and resulted in a successful banding effort for 2014. The crews’ efforts played a significant role in assisting one of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services’ main mission of managing waterfowl.

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Crews overcame high water challenges and focused efforts on more productive locations

Visit www.flyways.us for more information on the banding program and other projects that are vital to waterfowl management

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