Author Topic: Ted Nichols April 2015 Report to the Division Fish & Game Council  (Read 2667 times)

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WATERFOWL - STUDY PLAN IV

Ted Nichols, Principal Biologist
Patrick C. Carr, Supervising Biologist


Waterfowl Monitoring Programs (Job IV-A)

Postseason Black Duck Banding Program
The Division and other Atlantic Flyway states and refuges are partnering with the Black Duck Joint Venture in an ongoing 2-period (pre- and post-hunting season) banding program to estimate seasonal survival rates. A 2-period banding program will provide data to estimate survival during the summer/fall (August–January) and winter/spring (February–July). The overall goal of this effort is to improve our ability to model black duck population dynamics and identify limiting factors that can be mitigated through habitat and harvest management. The black duck goal for postseason banding in the northern US portion of the Atlantic Flyway, which includes New Jersey to Maine, is 1,545 birds. 

In New Jersey, 1,251 black ducks (6-year high) were captured and banded between 2 January and 20 March.  In addition, 460 mallards and 39 total mallard-black duck hybrids were also banded ancillary to black duck efforts.  Additional details will be included in the next monthly segment.

Atlantic Flyway Breeding Waterfowl Survey
Preparations were made for the 2015 Breeding Waterfowl Survey. Considerable time was spent preparing survey materials and making logistical preparations with observers.  This survey is completed annually from mid-April to mid-May by counting waterfowl in one square kilometer plots stratified through the 5 physiographic strata of the state.  A total of 105 plots are randomly located within these strata. 

Mourning Dove Surveys
Beginning in May 2015, state and federal wildlife agencies will be participating in a modified mourning dove call-count survey under the guidance of the Dove Task Force (AFWA).  The purpose of this 3-year project is to evaluate whether combining the historical Call-count surveys with distance sampling techniques is an effective technique to estimate the abundance of mourning doves in the Eastern Management Unit (EMU). Under the current harvest management strategy for mourning doves, if a season closure would occur, no monitoring system exists to reopen the hunting seasons because the data used to estimate abundance (age-ratios, estimated total harvest, and harvest rates) are obtained from harvest surveys.   Upland Program Wildlife Technician Joe Garris will run one route in New Jersey.


Waterfowl Ecology and Management (Job IV-B)

Atlantic Flyway Resident Canada Goose Population Model
The third revision of a manuscript entitled: “Survival and harvest of Atlantic Flyway Resident Population Canada Geese.” was resubmitted to the Wildlife Society Bulletin and accepted on March 17. University of Delaware (UD) Postdoc Julie Beston is lead author.  Coauthors include Nichols, Chris Williams (UD) and Paul Castelli (Retired, NJDFW; now at Forsythe NWR).

Breeding Waterfowl Survey
At the request of the lead editor, Ted Nichols submitted a revision of a manuscript entitled “Population trends of breeding waterfowl in New Jersey, 1993-2012” to The Bulletin of the NJ Academy of Science.  Former Division seasonal biologist Orrin Jones is coauthor.


Atlantic Flyway Council Technical Section   (Job IV-C)

Atlantic Flyway Council Technical Section Winter Meeting
Ted Nichols attended the Atlantic Flyway Council Technical Section (TS) and Atlantic Coast Joint Venture (ACJV) meeting in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. Nichols served as NJ state representative to the TS and ACJV, and on the Canada Goose, Black Duck (Chair), Migratory Shore and Upland Gamebird, and Snow Goose, Brant and Swan committees.

Atlantic Population Canada Goose Monitoring Programs
Ted Nichols began coordinating personnel needs for 20154 Atlantic Population Canada Goose Monitoring Programs on behalf of the Atlantic Flyway Council.


Extension Services

Ted Nichols attended the annual membership meeting of the NJ Waterfowlers Association.  Nichols presented information on waterfowl status, regulatory updates, and answered a suite of migratory game bird questions.

Ted Nichols, AD Herrighty and Chief Stanko attended a meeting at State Senator C. Connors office along with several of Connor’s constituents to discuss the proposed Game Code change concerning floating waterfowl blinds.

Winter Waterfowl Mortality
During late February and into March there were several reports of various ducks, shorebirds and seabirds washing up on beaches in lower Cape May County.  This was not necessarily surprising given the harsh winter weather and it would be expected that emaciated or frozen birds would wash out of the back bays and into the ocean to subsequently wash up on the beachfront.  However, there have also been several recent cases of a new strain of high pathogenic avian influenzas (HPAI) in both wild ducks (predominantly Pacific Northwest) and especially in domestic poultry, primarily in midcontinent US (MO, AR, MN).  To this end, the waterfowl program and Forsythe NWR have been cooperating with USDA-WS to test ducks (especially mallards) trapped during winter black duck banding operations for avian influenzas.  Nothing out of the ordinary has been detected in these specimens as yet.
 
On March 12 a citizen approached Land Mgmt employee Nick Carros who collected 7 dead ducks at Cox Hall Creek WMA which were submitted to the state lab for necropsy/analysis.    The specimens were reported as emaciated and negative for avian influenzas.

2015-16 Migratory Bird Season Dates
Ted Nichols developed draft 2015-16 season dates for New Jersey and made plans to meet with representatives of key waterfowl groups (NJ Ducks Unlimited, NJ Waterfowlers Association, Delta Waterfowl) and a Fish and Game Council Rep (Joe DeMartino) to discuss choices. 

2015 Fish and Wildlife Digest: Hunting Edition
Ted Nichols prepared a feature article synthesizing contemporary waterfowl harvest data for New Jersey as well as updating several sections concerning migratory game birds.

Tuckahoe WMA NAWCA Grant
Ted Nichols met with Land Management Chief Golden, Ducks Unlimited (DU) staff and US Fish and Wildlife Staff to discuss objectives and basic engineering design for this project.
Regards
John