Area youth learn about nature

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Four young people, Kelcie Adams, Madison Adams, Whit Cagle and Logan Lawrence, recently had the opportunity to participate in a wood duck banding project at Big Lake National Wildlife Refuge.

Scott Adams, along with Kelcie and Madison, got a lesson on banding wood ducks at Big Lake Wildlife Refuge. (Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)

The young people were accompanied by Scott Adams with Delta Water Fowl, The Great Swamp Chapter of Mississippi County. The group joined Jeremy Bennett, Big Lake Wildlife Refuge manager, and Aaron Mize, wildlife science technician, for the early morning banding on July 21.

Big Lake staff starts in July and works through September trapping ducks in rocket nets for banding and testing twice a week.

"We were happy to have the young people participate," Mize said. "One of our goals is to be a part of connecting kids with nature. We were thrilled to give the kids the hands-on experience. The day they were here was the best shoot we've had in the four years I have been here."

The group got to watch as 111 ducks were trapped with the 45 foot rocket net.

"It was a great day," Mize said.

Mize explained that all states in the Southeast have a quota of 1,000 wood ducks to band. Big Lake's quota is 187.

"As of Friday, we are just shy of 400," Mize said. "We expect to have 500 by the end of September.

The wood duck population cannot be assessed by air like others. The wood ducks can't be seen from airplanes so the banding is very important in helping with data in population and survival rates.

The bands are numbered and also have an 800 telephone number for hunters to call if the wood duck is shot.

In addition to banding, all the wood ducks trapped are swapped and tested for Avian Influenza. Mize said of all the ducks tested so far for Avian Influenza, no cases have been found in the U.S.

The Great Swamp Chapter of Mississippi County, Delta Water Fowl, is in its second year. One of their goals is to work with young people introducing them to nature.

Adams expressed his appreciation to the staff at Big Lake for allowing them to share in the duck banding experience.

Pictures were taken of the young people and will be featured in a future edition of the Delta Water Fowl magazine. Adams also video taped the children and the Refuge staff throughout the morning.

Delta Water Fowl, Mississippi County Chapter is planning a banquet Oct. 24.

Anyone interested in learning more about the local Chapter or attending the annual banquet may log on to the website at

"We had a very successful banquet and auction last year," Rose said. "We raised funds above the national average for an individual Chapter."

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