Where Are The Ducks?

Posted at 9:30 pm on February 17, 2005

JONESBORO —Duck hunting. You don't find it any better than Arkansas. An estimated five million ducks fly through the natural state each season, about a million are shot. For all practical purposes the ducks that come down from Canada and the Dakotas every year are almost as much a natural resource as rice! That's why the Arkansas Game And Fish Commission is in it's second year of outfitting these valuable ducks with GPS trackers.

Andrew James, the Waterfowl Program Coordinator of the Arkansas Game And Fish Commission, dresses five mallard drakes with the lightweight trackers. Ideally, the little battery inside will last until he comes back next fall. James says it will transmit once every three days. Then, during the breeding season, it will only signal once every ten days. When cooler weather sets in during the fall, the beacon will transmit every two days, hopefully showing the duck is headed back to Arkansas.

The Game and Fish Commission spends $2500 on each tracker. If you are a duck hunter, the logical question is, "How does this help duck hunting.?"

James say, "This may not help hunting. It helps us produce more ducks and we hope those ducks do come through Arkansas." He adds, "We're looking at where the ducks are breeding. That gives us an idea where to focus our conservation money to help improve habitat on breeding ground. We want to make sure there is plenty of suitable habitat along those corridors."

What's very cool about this program is that you can actually watch the ducks online. Just go to the Arkansas Game And Fish Commission websiteand click on the the 'Satellite Mallard Tracking' link.  From there, you'll answer a couple simple questions, give an email address, and you are ready to go!