Where are the ducks?

Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Andrew James (left), water fowl program coordinator for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, and Aaron Mize, biological technical at Big Lake National Wildlife Refuge, place bands and transmitters on mallard ducks. (Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)

Thanks to the joint effort of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Arkansas Game and Fish, eight ducks from Big Lake National Wildlife Refuge will be part of the "Where are the Ducks" project." Ducks, fitted with a transmitting device, can be tracked by satellite

Big Lake National Wildlife Refuge manager Aaron Mize, biological technician, and Kent Wagner, technician III and James Foster, biologist, with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, managed to catch six drakes and two hens using a cannon net last week. They were joined by Andrew James, water fowl program coordinator with the Game and Fish Commission on Wednesday, Feb. 16 to band the ducks and attach satellite transmitters.

The program was started last March with 28 ducks carrying transmitters were released.

Approximately 50 birds from across the state were fitted with transmitters in February to assist in the data gathering project.

James said the procedure does not harm the birds in any way. The general rule is as long as the transmitter is below three percent of the body weight, it will not hurt the ducks. The transmitters weigh 30 grams and the smallest Mallard will weigh 1,000 grams.

"A great amount of data will come from this program," James said. "We will be able to gain insight into the migration patterns and breeding areas."

The ducks released last week will be on line in approximately two weeks. Anyone interested will be able to track the flight pattern of the ducks fitted with the transmitters.

At least seven of the 28 ducks from last year made the round trip are still transmitting.

The progress of the ducks can be viewed by visiting www.agfc.state.ar.us and following the appropriate links to the map.

James said each duck banded and released is given a name so it is easy to follow. He pointed out it is not illegal to kill one of the ducks fitted with a band and transmitter.

"The equipment has a telephone number and we would appreciate hunters letting us know when one has been killed," James said. "The transmitters can be returned and if the hunter wants one, we will replace the transmitter with a replica.

"The information will be utilized to see what the ducks are doing differently. It is also a good way to see what we can do to improve hunting in Arkansas."

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: