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Researchers Study Captive-bred Birds

Scientists tracked 400 banded mallards released on Long Island

Research by ESF graduate student Carrie Osborne was highlighted in The Wildlife Professional, a publication of The Wildlife Society.

Osborne's research focused on captive-bred mallards that are released on privately owned shooting preserves across the United States. These preserves release hundreds of thousands of captive-bred birds each year; many of the birds are quickly killed by hunters but a large percentage are not.

To understand the population impact of these releases, Osborne and colleagues Bryan L. Swift EFB '77, the game bird unit leader for the New York Department of Environmental Conservation Bureau of Wildlife; and Guy Baldassarre, a Distinguished Teaching Professor at ESF, tracked 400 banded, captive-bred mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) that were released in eastern Long Island between 2006 and 2008. Eighty of the birds were fitted with radio transmitters.

The Wildlife Professional reported that in a paper in Human-WildlifeInteractions (v. 4/2), the authors note that although roughly half of the birds died within the first four weeks after release-11 percent killed by hunters-those that survived often thrived, with 25 percent of all released mallards surviving 10 months after release. Many settled in park areas, fed by members of the public. And many also lingered in areas where wild ducks lived, opening the possibility for captive-bred mallards to transmit diseases to native waterfowl.