So You Shot a Banded Duck

duckFRANKLIN, Pa. – The Pennsylvania Game Commission annually traps and bands ducks in Pennsylvania. This trapping effort in conjunction with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and various states and Canadian provinces has been ongoing for many years.

(Pictured to the left: Wildlife Management Supervisor Roger Coup banding a mallard duck.)

Roger Coup, Wildlife Management Supervisor for the Northwest Region of the Pennsylvania Game Commission said, “The trapping effort helps wildlife managers make informed decisions on population levels. This ensures setting seasons and bag limits, within the federal framework, that are consistent with reproductive and harvest data collected.” Additionally, biologists often collect samples related to wildlife health issues such as avian influenza.

The way it works is a sample of ducks are leg banded in late summer. As an example, this past year 313 ducks were banded at Presque Isle State Park in Erie County, and 1,270 ducks were banded in the Pymatuning area in Crawford County. Statewide trapping efforts yielded 2,248 ducks. This is 29% below the 2005-2015 average of 3,176 ducks.


When duck season opens, hunters harvesting a duck with a leg band are asked to call the phone number appearing on the band: 1-800-327-BAND (2263) or go online at

Information is collected on species, sex, and location of harvest. The US Geological Survey, Bird Banding Laboratory, Patuxent, MD, serves as a central repository for banding information. Successful hunters receive a card listing where and when the bird was tagged. This allows information to be reported across state and international borders.

As a general rule, the banding of ducks goes on as a routine job function. As agency personnel become limited due to lack of adequate funding duck banding which has already been scaled back, can be difficult to continue at current levels.

It’s been more than 17 years since the General Assembly last approved an increase in hunting and furtaking license fees. Without an increase, the agency cannot continue to provide the same level of service it has in the past.

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