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June 10, 1998                          Hugh Vickery  202-208-5634
Have you ever experienced the excitement of harvesting a banded 
game bird?  Hunters who take a banded bird may wonder where the 
bird originated, how old it is, or whom to contact to report the 
information on the band.  In the past, many hunters found it 
difficult to report their band recovery, while others simply 
didn't feel it was necessary.
To make life simpler and to improve the reporting rate of band 
recoveries, the U.S. Geological Survey's Bird Banding Laboratory, 
in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, recently 
placed a toll-free number on bird bands.  Hunters can now call 
1-800-327-BAND, or 1-800-327-2263, to report their recovery of a 
banded bird.
Hunters are welcome to keep the bands they report.  When they 
make the call, they can find out where and when the bird was 
banded.  In addition, each hunter who reports a band recovery 
will receive a certificate of appreciation that tells when, 
where, and who banded the bird.
The Service is responsible for establishing waterfowl hunting 
regulations.  The banding program helps provide information about 
waterfowl movements, survival rates, and harvest rates that is 
critical to population management and setting of hunting 
regulations.  The information provided by hunters is essential to 
this effort.
The banding of waterfowl is done under the auspices of the North 
American Waterfowl Banding Program, a cooperative effort among 
Federal, provincial, and state agencies, and private 
organizations.  Each year, approximately 380,000 waterfowl are 
banded across the United States and Canada.
Research conducted in the mid-1980s indicated that only a third 
of the bands on mallards were reported by hunters.  This low rate 
of return represents a tremendous loss of information.
By reporting your recovery of a banded bird, you will not only 
assist the Service in managing the resource but also you could 
learn some interesting facts.  For example, banding information 
collected at the Bird Banding Laboratory indicates that the 
oldest northern pintail ever recovered was 22 years old, the 
oldest mallard 23 years old.
Beyond longevity records, the Bird Banding Lab also maintains 
data on waterfowl movements, such as waterfowl banded in Russia 
that are recovered in the Central Valley of California, or a 
northern pintail banded in California that was recovered in 
The help of hunters is needed for the banding program to be 
successful, and the Service encourages all waterfowlers to report 
bands with the "1-800" number.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency 
responsible for conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish and 
wildlife and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the 
American people.  The Service's almost 93 million acres include 
514 national wildlife refuges, 78 ecological services field 
stations, 65 national fish hatcheries, 50 wildlife coordination 
areas, and 38 wetland management districts with waterfowl 
production areas. 
The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, manages migratory bird 
populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves 
and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, administers the 
Endangered Species Act, and helps foreign governments with their 
conservation efforts.  It also oversees the Federal Aid program 
that distributes Federal excise taxes on fishing and hunting 
equipment to state wildlife agencies.  This program is a 
cornerstone of the Nation's wildlife management efforts, funding 
fish and wildlife restoration, boating access, hunter education, 
shooting ranges, and related projects across America.

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