Did you know that the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources depends on hunters and outdoor enthusiasts to track migratory birds in Utah?
“Most people don’t know that. Especially outside of the hunting community, if they find a metal leg band on a bird they have no idea if they’re supposed to take it or not.”
That is Blair Stringham, the migratory game bird program coordinator for the Utah DWR. The DWR bands and then releases the birds, hoping that they will later be found somewhere else along their migratory route.
“And then we can track basically migration routes for birds as they move from their banding location to other parts of the country. We can look at survival from different ages, and just a whole bunch of other stuff we get from that banding data.”
The wildlife managers depend on members of the public to find and return the bands.
“Yeah. The majority of them do come from hunters who harvest the birds, but really anybody who finds a bird band, whether it’s harvested or whether you’re out walking and you find a bird. You can take the band number, there’s an individual number for each one of the bands that we put out, and that’s reported through a federal database at reportband.gov.”
Recently, the DWR created a website that displays all of the information they have collected from the bird bands.
“It’s basically just showing people who don’t have access to the banding data what it is and how incredible it is.”
The primary map on the website shows a large cluster of markers around the Great Salt Lake.
“Yeah, so that’s kind of the bread and butter of Utah and, really, the intermountain west. The Great Salt Lake just attracts a ton of migratory birds.”