Swan pipes, duck decoys, cage traps, cannon netting, and roundups are widely used to capture waterfowl in order to monitor populations. These methods are often regulated in countries with national ringing or banding programs and are considered to be safe, and thus justifiable given the benefits to conservation. However, few published studies have addressed how frequently injuries and mortalities occur, or the nature of any injuries. In the present study, rates of mortality and injury during captures with the use of these methods carried out by the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust as part of conservation programs were assessed. The total rate of injury (including mild dermal abrasions) was 0.42% across all species groups, whereas total mortality was 0.1% across all capture methods. Incidence of injury varied among species groups (ducks, geese, swans, and rails), with some, for example, dabbling ducks, at greater risk than others. We also describe techniques used before, during, and after a capture to reduce stress and injury in captured waterfowl. Projects using these or other capture methods should monitor and publish their performance to allow sharing of experience and to reduce risks further.
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Vol. 52 • No. 2s