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To quantify the consequences of local hunting on illegal kill of canvasbacks (Aythya valisineria), we studied the behavior of hunters on a 646-ha area open to duck hunting (closed to canvasback hunting) on Lake Onalaska, Navigation Pool 7, Wisconsin, during the 1991 and 1992 waterfowl hunting seasons. Law enforcement officers observed 258 hunting parties for 419 hours. Of 94 hunting parties encountering canvasbacks, 41 (44%) shot at the ducks on 56 occasions, or 27% of 207 encounters observed, Based on a ratio estimator, there were 790 (95% CI = 376) attempts to shoot at canvasbacks on the Lake Onalaska study area during 1991 and 837 (95% CI = 390) during 1992. Mortality of canvasbacks, excluding crippling loss, was estimated to be 128 during 1991 and 166 during 1992. Thus, total canvasback losses may be higher than currently estimated on a flyway or national basis. This estimating technique offers a promising method for enumerating hunter take of protected and legal species.
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Canvasback mortality from illegal hunting on the upper Mississippi River