Written by Jerry Davis Tuesday, 24 July 2012 17:24
On Saturday July 1 Alabama’s mallard duck population rose by more than 3,000 when volunteers of the Alabama Waterfowl Association (AWA) banded and released that number of 35 day old wild mallard ducks. This release marks a milestone of over 240,000 mallards that AWA has released in Alabama since 1988. AWA recruited volunteers to the AWA Mallard Rearing Facility near North Sauty Waterfowl Refuge to help catch, band and release the mallards.
Great care is given to keep human imprint from taming the wild genetics of these mallards. Automatic feeders, lights for a mother’s warmth and electronic environmental controls ensure these ducks are reared to the highest standards and suitable for release in the wild. After thousands of band reports and interviews with sportsmen that have harvested these mallards in 14 different states and three Canadian Providence’s, AWA has proven this wild mallard release project is a viable waterfowl enhancement project. Over 82 percent of the mallards are harvested within 50 miles of their release site. It is not uncommon to see a raft of ducks in the middle of a milfoil patch on Lake Guntersville in July or August, way before the migration of the ducks.
This program helps the area economy by attracting people that enjoy watching the ducks as well as duck hunters coming into the area. Jackson County is the top duck hunting county in Alabama. Many hunters come into the area from other states to hunt, helping the local business such as; motels, restaurants and stores. Cities and the state are helped with the purchase of licenses, duck stamps and by sale taxes that is collected.
This program has helped Alabama become known as one of the top duck hunting states in North America ranking Alabama in the top 15 states in the number of ducks harvested per hunter.
AWA band data indicates that the mallard harvest has increased tremendously in Lawrence, Colbert and Lauderdale Counties because of AWA’s mallard release program. Just because a portion of the ducks are placed on private land does not mean the public hunters do not benefit. AWA receives a great percentage of the band reports from public hunting areas that no ducks were released in.
Mikayla Cranford is a twelve year old girl from Union Grove, Ala. She is a state champion in her class and is a brown belt in the American Taekwondo Association (ATA).
Mikayla said, “These 4 week old ducks is a good match for me to use my Taekwondo skills,” while helping catch the ducks for banding.
Benefits of Mallard Release Project
•Directly increases in harvest opportunity. It is well known that if you increase harvest opportunity the private sector will be inspired to develop and conserve habitat to enjoy watching and hunting waterfowl.
•Decoys over-flying migrating waterfowl to enjoy the lush habitat of the TRV.
•The release and yearly recruitment has increased watching and hunting opportunity, this increases tourism in Alabama, adding to the state and local economy.
•AWA involves the Boy Scouts of America and other youngsters to help raise, band and release the mallard ducks. This involves the youngsters and adults in a hands-on experience on conservation practices. This is an educational outreach tool to introduce and educate our future conservationists.
•The band data AWA has collected is forwarded to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) and has shown that the state of Indiana’s Coal Reclamation projects are where many of the ducks that frequent the TRV of Alabama stage to replenish their diet and strength to continue their journey south.
For more information on the Alabama Waterfowl Association projects check the AWA web site at http://www.alabamawaterfowl.org .
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