Sports

What information can be collected from banded birds?

Question: While hunting ducks a few months ago at my hunt club, my son shot a double banded wood duck. It had the normal metal band on one leg and on the other leg it had a pink plastic band with the number 9 on it. The club next to us raises wood ducks and we were wondering if it may have come from there? How can I best describe to my kids why some ducks are banded?

Answer: Bird banding is one of the most useful tools in the modern study of wild birds. Banding birds with uniquely numbered leg rings is meant to reference where and when each bird is banded, its age, sex, and any other information the bander thinks crucial to report to scientists.

Information from bands subsequently found and reported provides data on the range, distribution and migration habits, their relative numbers, annual production, life span, and causes of death of countless species of birds. Having this information increases scientists’ ability to understand bird habitat and behavior and assists them in their management and conservation efforts (source: USFWS website).

As far as the bands you found, it depends on what kind of metal band the bird had. If the band was issued from the USFWS, then you can go to their website pwrc.usgs.gov/bbl and easily find out where it came from. If it is not a USFWS issued band, that likely means an organization may be providing nesting habitat via wood duck nest boxes, and then banding them as part of a federally-permitted study. Between the two bands, hopefully you can track some information down.

Question: My daughter and I were going to the store recently when we noticed a possum that had just crossed the road and was near the gutter on the other side of the road. The car in front of us veered to the other side of the road and ran over the possum on purpose. I have been told that possums are a protected animal. Who do I contact to report this? I was shocked and very angry that someone would do this on purpose. I have pictures of the car, the license plate and of the possum. I would appreciate any help in this matter. There is no excuse for this kind of cruelty.

Answer: Although opossums are not native to California, they are classified as nongame animals pursuant to Fish and Game Code section 4150, and they may not be taken in the manner you have described. However, these kinds of violations can be difficult to prove and prosecute because the drivers will likely claim it was unintentional and that they were distracted and swerving because of other issues inside the car such as a coffee spill, or dropped cell phone.

The driver might also claim he was attempting to avoid the animal but the animal got confused and ran back in the direction the car was veering, which does happen sometimes. Despite these possible scenarios however, what you described could be investigated as an illegal method of take. You can call the 24-hour CalTIP hotline at (888) 334-2258 or report by text message via “tip411 (numerically, 847411).

Question: I see many videos on YouTube regarding fishing along the California Aqueduct. As a main water supply line for California, I would think most areas would restrict access. Is there any information I can look up to find where the access areas are? I think most areas on the videos are in Southern California. I am looking for access to the California aqueduct around Central California.

Answer: There are many fishing access points along the aqueduct, and many have signs posted as well. To find some of these places, please check out the online fishing guide at wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/guide or our mobile fishing guide at dfg.ca.gov/mobile.

NOTE: Carrie Wilson is a marine environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife; see CalOutdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.

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