Identification of capture and handling procedures that influence survival of waterfowl has important research and management implications. We captured 347 female Northern Pintails (Anas acuta) using rocket nets, fitted them with harness (backpack-type) radio transmitters, and monitored their survival during the first 10 d following release. Females were 16 times more likely to die during the first 4 d of exposure than during days 5-10. Survival of females captured with small numbers of waterfowl (n < 172) was not related to holding time (time from capture until release), but survival of females captured with large numbers of waterfowl (n = 594) declined as holding time increased. Survival did not vary with age (immature or adult) or body condition (body mass adjusted for body size) of females. Survival was positively related to flight quality (scored as poor, moderate, or good) of females upon release; poor and moderate fliers were twice as likely to die as those scored in the next higher level of flight quality. Flight quality of females captured with small numbers of waterfowl was unrelated to holding time, but that of females captured with large numbers of waterfowl declined as holding time increased. In all cases where cause of mortalities could be determined (n = 12), we attributed proximate cause of death to predation. We recommend that holding time of ducks be minimized, particularly for those captured with large numbers of waterfowl in rocket nets.
Additional publication details
Effects of capture and handling on survival of female northern pintails