Why report rings from shot birds? 21st November 2019

Ringing of wild birds has a long tradition in European wildlife management. In recent years, an increased focus on flyway management of European goose populations has also put hunting in the spotlight as an important tool in goose management. Hunters shooting ringed geese may make an important contribution by reporting the rings from shot birds.

By Niklas Liljebäck, Svenska Jägareförbundet

The Swedish Association for Hunting and Wildlife Management (SAHWM) is currently, in collaboration with a Swedish goose research project, making an extra effort to ring Greylag Geese. In three years, more than 700 Greylag Geese have been ringed in Sweden, and more than 70 birds have been equipped with satellite transmitters.

Most of the ringed geese carry a blue plastic ring (neckband) around the neck with symbols allowing identification of live birds in the field using binoculars. Such reports can be submitted via online applications such as the website www.geese.org or to your national ringing central. For hunters handling dead birds, the metal ring found on the leg (tarsus) is the most interesting, and the numbers and other information on the ring must be reported to your national ringing central (regardless of where the bird was ringed).

Growing goose populations

Although a very appreciated game resource for hunters, the large flocks of Greylag Geese may pose a problem for agriculture as well as for conservation since the grazing pressure from geese may destruct valuable crops and natural habitats for more sensitive species. Consequently, many stakeholders in Sweden and Europe wish to decrease the number of Greylag Geese by hunting - but is it realistic that hunting will affect the size of this numerous and fast-growing population? With the present ringing campaign SAHWM hopes to collect data that may be used to answer some crucial questions for management of the greylag goose population:

  1. Where do the Greylag Geese in different parts of Sweden migrate to, and which countries are hunting geese originating from Sweden?
  2. How many geese survive the winter and come back to breed, and what proportion of the birds are shot by hunters along the flyway?
  3. How many geese must be shot before the population starts to decrease?

Hunters may help to answer these and other questions by reporting rings found on shot geese. Although this specific study targets the management of Greylag Geese, it is equally important for hunters to report rings from all game bird species.

Waterfowlers’ Network wants to emphasise the role of hunters in the management of migrating waterbirds. The network foresees an increased request for hunters to provide data for the management of waterbird populations, and we thus encourage all hunters to report rings from shot birds.