Field & Game Australia in conjunction with the University of New England’s Associate Professor Graham Hall will continue the Head and Wing Research Project in 2016.
It will be the eighth year for the projectwhich provides vital data to better inform the annual game season decision-making process by the relevant government bodies.
Professor Hall has over 35 years of experience in the management of wildlife. He has worked all over the world, and he continues to consult with various government and private organisations on wildlife topics.
Each duck season, hunters collect hundreds of duck and quail samples and Professor Hall analyses the head and wings from harvested birds.
“We do it twice a year, at the beginning of the season in March and at the end of the season which gives us an idea of whether the harvest changes over the season and samples from across the state give us spatial data on whether there are regional
Data is also collected where possible on the sex of birds being harvested and for black duck and grey teal the samples provide raw numbers. The samples also provide clues as to the cross breeding of mallards and black duck.
“Mallard drakes are very aggressive and will actually seek out black duck females and we have been recording the levels of hybridisation for some time,” Professor Hall said.
“What the wing samples are also providing is a way of looking at movement of birds.”
Samples of meat ants collected throughout South East Australia provide a map of the natural variation in the occurrence of stable isotopes which can then be compared to stable isotopes in the feathers of harvested birds.
“You can tell if a bird has moved from another area to the area where it was harvested,” Professor Hall said.
“What you can’t tell is where else it went in between.”
Professor Hall will be on the ground with FGA representatives on Opening Day of the Victorian Duck Season to kick-off this year’s research.