Louisiana’s aggressive efforts at banding wood ducks were honored this week at a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Director’s Honor Awards ceremony in Atlanta.

Larry Reynolds, waterfowl study leader for the state, accepted the award on behalf of the Wildlife Division of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. 

He was quick to point out that the state’s banding efforts, which far exceed the USFWS annual quota of 500 birds each year, take the hard work, effort and cooperation of lots of people each July through September.

To harvest the birds, bait sites are selected and managed, and the birds are eventually captured by launching nets over the bait site, he said.

“The guys that are actually out there on the ground doing the work should get the credit. I may be the boss and the guy who sets the goals and tries to keep the agency focussed on banding, but the guys who get up early in the morning, shed their sweat and keep the bait sites managed earned this,” Reynolds said. “This is the hottest part of the summer when this is going on, and the guys out there work their butts off. They deserve the kudos for this work.”

The USFWS goal is 500 birds per year, divided up into quotas of 125 adult females, 125 juvenile females, 125 adult males and 125 juvenile males, he said.

But Reynolds’ goal for the state is 1,500 birds each year, mainly because catching adult females proves to be very difficult.

“We have no trouble catching juvenile females, juvenile males and adult males,” he said. “But females have to molt later because they’ve been raising a brood, and they’re pretty wise and pretty sneaky.

“We usually have to catch a total of 1,500 wood ducks to get those 125 females.”

Since 2004, Reynolds’ team has banded more than 10,000 wood ducks, including more than 2,100 birds in 2011 and 2,700 birds in 2012.

“Recognizing the excellence of partners, volunteers and employees is one way we can say thank you to those who practice what we like to call ‘Southern-style conservation’,” USFWS Regional Director Cindy Dohner said. “Every day, they demonstrate their long-term commitment to working together to sustain fish and wildlife for future generations. We are indebted to them.”