State wildlife officials band their paws on geese for research


PURCELL – James Morel gathered his group of “goose wranglers” early Thursday morning at Purcell City Lake before beginning their mission.

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s Migratory Birds Coordinator has warned dozens of Wildlife Department employees and Delta Waterfowl volunteers that they could be hit, bitten and even piped by Canada geese. Canada they were about to capture.

But no one would be seriously threatened by the flock of geese. Even though the honkers were about to be herded like cattle in a makeshift pen for banding, not tagging, no one should fear being trampled on in this roundup.

If a few uncooperative stray birds ran away, Morel’s advice to goose hunters was to just let the birds go. No one wanted to see an injured goose either.

The geese are chased out of the water by a kayaker before being led into an enclosure where identification bands are placed around one of their legs.  The goose banding was hosted by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation at Purcell City Lake on Thursday.

In late June and early July, Canada geese molt, which means they lose and replace their flight feathers so they cannot fly.

State wildlife officials choose those weeks of June and July to place bands on resident Canada geese because they are easy to catch.

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Thursday’s goose feuds began on the water as two kayakers herded the birds that were on the water towards the shore to join their feathered friends.

Once all the geese were on the shore, volunteers and Wildlife Department employees formed a line on either side of the birds and began directing the geese to a makeshift enclosure. State wildlife officers had brought fences to form the goose corral.

The geese quickly closed ranks as fighters approached from either side and waddled around the enclosure, which was closed behind them. If only keeping the cattle was that easy.

“They’re pretty calm and quite tame,” Morel said of the geese, which weigh on average between 8 and 10 pounds each.

Max Prichard of Bethany, president of the Oklahoma City chapter of Delta Waterfowl, gathers geese in a pen to be placed in leg bands at Lake Purcell City on Thursday.  The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation places paw bands on resident Canada geese at this time of year statewide.  Geese moult at this time of year and cannot fly.

Once inside the enclosure, a Wildlife Department employee or volunteer secures each bird and identifies it as male or female for research purposes, then passes it to another person outside of the enclosure. enclosure to take the goose to ring.

Those who do the banding use pliers to close the ring around the crow’s foot, then the bird is released and quickly rushes to the lake with a little shiny bling on its paw, no worse for wear .

State wildlife officials banded about 200 resident Canada geese on Thursday morning at Lake Purcell City, one of several places in the state where they banded birds last week. They will continue the work this week.

Several of the geese in Purcell City Lake were still wearing rings from the last time the Wildlife Service banded birds there five years ago.

At Fort Cobb Lake earlier in the week, state wildlife officials discovered a ring on a goose that had been put on the bird’s leg almost 20 years ago, Morel said.

“It’s an old goose,” he said.

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If Oklahoma hunters harvest a goose during the state-resident Canada geese season in September, or the regular waterfowl season in winter, they are urged to call the number or visit the website. the band to report it.

Band recoveries help biologists determine how many and where geese are distributed throughout the state, their survival rates and behavior patterns.

Most resident Canada geese that are banded stay close to home, but in the past, a goose banded in Durant has been harvested near Oklahoma City, Morel said.

“They move around a bit,” he said.

Bird banding is probably the oldest and most effective research tool available to waterfowl biologists for decades.

The information collected by biologists helps waterfowl managers establish hunting seasons and bag limits each year.

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Oklahoma is not alone in this effort. Most state agencies and the US Fish and Wildlife Service place geese and ducks in rings to learn more about them.

Jeff Wheeler reads the number from a leg band on a goose that was captured during a goose banding hosted by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation at Purcell City Lake on Thursday.

For a waterfowl hunter, collecting a ring from a harvested bird is a precious commodity. Many wear them on thongs around their necks with their waterfowl calls.

“A group is a very special element for a duck hunter,” said Max Prichard of Bethany, president of the Oklahoma City chapter of Delta Waterfowl. “We consider it to be a gem.”

They are unique to waterfowl hunters as they are rare to obtain. Prichard said he had been a waterfowl hunter for 40 years and had only shot two banded birds, a duck and a goose.

Morel said less than 10 percent of resident Canada geese banded in Oklahoma are killed by hunters.

“It’s unique,” ​​Morel said of the bands. “It kind of became a trophy in a way.”

Ada woman heads the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission

Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commissioner Leigh Gaddis of Ada has been selected to become the commission chairman starting next month.

Gaddis is the first woman to head the eight-member commission, which is the governing body of the Oklahoma Department for Wildlife Conservation.

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She became the first woman to hold the post of Wildlife Commissioner when she was appointed in 2014.

Wichita teenager breaks world record for paddlefish on Keystone Lake

Keystone Lake spat out another state and world record paddlefish.

Fishing guide Jeremiah Mefford on Tuesday helped a third angler set a world record at Keystone Lake near Tulsa, this time a 164-pound spatula, as spatulas are commonly known in Oklahoma.

Grant Rader, 18, of Wichita, Kansas, is the new record holder. He made the trip to Keystone Lake to celebrate his recent high school graduation and birthday.

A year ago, at the end of June, Mefford guided Edmond’s James Lukehart to a world record spatula weighing 146.7 pounds.

Less than a month after Lukehart’s capture, that mark was shattered when Cory Watters, of Ochelata, hooked up and released a 151.9-pound paddlefish while fishing with Mefford.

Mefford believes Rader’s hold is the same 157-pound spatula caught in 2019 by another of his clients. This fish could not be certified as a world record because it was caught on a single day of capture and release for the paddlefish.

While Lake Keystone’s other world record paddlefish was released alive after being weighed and measured, the new world record did not survive after state wildlife officials attempted to release it.

Journalist Ed Godfrey searches for stories that impact your life. Whether it’s news, outdoors, sports – you name it, it wants to point it out. An idea of ​​history? Contact him at or on Twitter @EdGodfrey. Support his work and that of fellow Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.


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