Friday, July 02, 2010

SPORTS>>Band a hit with honkers

Leader sportswriter

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission made a stop in Jacksonville on Tuesday as part of its annual summer Canada goose banding program.

A crew of 16, which included AGFC personnel and local volunteers, rounded up close to 200 Canada geese and banded 120 on First Arkansas Bank president Larry Wilson’s property on Nixon Drive off Highway 161.

The rest of the geese were already banded and were returned to the water. Geese without the small, numbered, metal bands were put in a makeshift pen made of orange plastic fencing to await their turn.

The last week of June and early July is the only time Canada geese can be banded because that is when they shed their flight feathers. AGFCwaterfowl-program coordinator Luke Naylor estimated 1,000-1,500 Canada geese are banded in Arkansas each year.

“There’s a couple of things you can get from banding,” Naylor said. “It’s basically the only population- monitoring tool we have.

“You can get recoveries whenever a band number is reported, mostly from hunter harvests. They call and report the band number and you get that information back.”

The crew had all 120 geese rounded up, banded and released back to the pond in one hour and 15 minutes.

The Wilson property provided an average-size job for the group, said Naylor, who said they can band anywhere from 75 to 300 geese on a given site.

“We just have a short window,” Naylor said. “We spend five, six days total on it every summer. It’s a one-time effort because it’s one of those projects where we have to mobilize a big crew.”

Naylor said the extra attention paid to Canada geese is mostly because they are a hunted species. And though they are far from being endangered, keeping track of them is very important.

“We know it’s not hurting,” Naylor said. “Residential geese are actually expanding, but it still behooves us to do this for the long term. If we go a few years without doing this, we will lose continuity.”