GPS Mallards

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Beginning in late winter, the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks will begin an exciting new program to track migratory waterfowl. Approximately 30 mallards will be trapped and outfitted with small backpack Global Positioning System transmitters.

The transmitters weigh less than an ounce and allow birds to move freely with a minimal amount of stress. Battery life of the transmitters is about a year, which will allow daily monitoring of the satellite-tracked mallards during the migration north to the nesting grounds and the return trip down the migration corridor to over-winter, hopefully again in Mississippi.

The mallards will be trapped on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services refuges and on several state Wildlife Management Areas across the state. Mature female mallards will primarily be used in this study. Mature birds will be monitored to take advantage of their migratory experience as they complete their over-wintering activity in Mississippi and begin their migration back to the breeding grounds in the north. Females are less desired in the bag for many waterfowl hunters and will subsequently have potentially greater survival rates.

Much can be learned during this study relative to migration chronology, nesting, and over-winter habitat selection. One of the most exciting segments will be the ability to log on to and actually see where individual ducks are, anywhere they fly.

Companies, conservation organizations, and even private individuals will have the opportunity to sponsor one or more of the satellite-tagged mallards. Numerous benefits will accompany the sponsorship, including the naming of the sponsored bird. Anyone interested in more information can contact Larry Castle at 601-432-2196 or by e-mail: [email protected]