Bird Dog & Retriever News

August / September 2017 issue page 17


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easier to trap more doves at once, which means more data.
MDC staff conducts the sampling on Columbia Bottom and Bellefontaine Conservation Areas, both in north St. Louis County.  They split the work in two shifts, one in the morning beginning shortly after sunrise, and a second one in late afternoon.  The middle of the day is avoided so they won't risk stressing the birds in the mid-day heat.
In order to draw the birds in, multiple sites are scattered with sunflower seed in advance of trapping. 
The traps consist of "boxes" fashioned from chicken coop wire with tunnel-like entrances that guide the birds in to eat the seed. However, once in the box, the restricting shape of the tunnels prevents the doves from fitting back through and using them as exits.  They are trapped until the biologists arrive.
Once there are doves to work up, biologists act quickly to minimize stress.  They first determine if it is either a hatch-year bird—that is one born within the last year—or an adult which is a year or more in age.  They do this by examining the wing feathers. Next they identify the gender of each bird. 
"We also check the molt of the bird," said Tapp.  "The molt pattern can give an idea of when the bird was hatched for hatch-year birds.  For example, if fewer primary feathers have molted then the bird is likely a later-season hatchling."
After recording the data, every bird is fitted with a small metal band around its leg—that shiny new jewelry—which has a unique number matched with its data.  If the band is picked up again when a bird is re-trapped or turned in by a hunter after being harvested, biologists gain valuable insights.
Tapp said the information collected will be used to inform biologists as to the condition of the of dove populations.  By monitoring in this manner, MDC biologists can estimate population numbers and nesting success.  They use this to make scientifically-informed decisions regarding regulations, such as bag limits, during the hunting season.  When birds are found which have been banded at distant locations, it can also help provide clues as to their migration patterns.
For wildlife biologists like Tapp, the experience is about much more than collecting data.  It validates why they do what they do.
"This is one of the things that gets us out handling wildlife and really seeing first-hand how the wildlife is using the areas.  It definitely one of those things we all cherish," she said.
Learn more about mourning doves with the online MDC Field Guide at https://goo.gl/yB9ReM. 
Montana
Montana 2017-18 waterfowl and 'webless' migratory bird
Waterfowl and webless migratory bird regulations are already complete for the 2017-18 hunting seasons.
Montana's migratory bird regulations, set within the federal frameworks, will be very similar to last year.  The regulations are online at http://fwp.mt.gov/hunting/regulations and license providers.
Sandhill Crane, Mourning Dove and Snipe (Webless migratory bird) regulations
Mourning dove season dates will be unchanged, Sept. 1 - Oct. 30, with the same bag limits as last year, while snipe season will be Sept. 1 - Dec. 16.    For sandhill cranes, the over-the-counter permit season in the Central Flyway (CF) will be Sept. 30 – Nov. 26.  For crane seasons regulated under special drawing permits, season dates will be Sept. 9 – Oct. 8, with the season a week longer than last year.  The application deadline for the special crane hunting permits is July 27.  Check the regulations for application details.
Waterfowl regulations 
The hunting seasons for ducks, geese, swans, and coots have been set as well, for both the Pacific Flyway (PF) portion of the state (roughly the western half) and the Central Flyway (CF) portion (the eastern half).  Regulations will be similar to last year, but one important change is that the daily pintail bag will be reduced from 2 to 1.  Two CF zones for ducks and geese will provide a variety of hunting opportunities. 
In the PF a split season for both ducks and geese, with dates of Sept. 30 - January 7 and January 13-17, will allow an additional weekend of hunting.  PF swan season dates, for those areas open to swan hunting, will be Oct. 7 – Dec. 1.
In the CF, for Zone 2 (Big Horn, Carbon, Custer, Prairie, Rosebud, Treasure, and Yellowstone Counties), duck season dates will be Sept. 30 - Oct. 8 and Oct. 21 – Jan. 16, with goose season dates Sept. 30 – Oct. 8 and Oct. 21 – Jan. 24.  Zone 1 (the remainder of the CF) will have a duck season Sept. 30 – Jan. 4 and goose season dates of Sept. 30 -  Jan. 7 and Jan. 13-17.  The CF tundra swan season will be Sept. 30 – Jan. 4.
Other than the reduced pintail daily bag from 2 to 1, duck and goose bag limits in both the PF and CF will be identical to last season, with restrictions on some species and sexes, and

 

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Copyrights Bird Dog & Retriever News September 2017
Do not reproduce or retransmit in any form, and we surf the web, we'll find you.
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