Killing a banded goose is a thrill to most waterfowlers, and less than one of every 1,000 geese killed in South Carolina is banded. Most hunters who have killed banded geese save the band and incorporate it into their hunting clothing, usually stringing it onto the lanyard of their calls, and hunters with these bands achieve a certain status within the waterfowl community.
The bands are far more valuable than mere jewelry, however. They provide crucial information to wildlife biologists that help goose populations, and they answer questions about the habits of geese that are impossible to know otherwise.
When an organization like S.C. Waterfowl Association, Delta Waterfowl, or any number of other agencies bands a goose, they report all vital data about that goose to the Bird Banding Laboratory. When hunters harvest banded geese, they report their kill to the same laboratory, which can then determine information like flight paths, life span, distribution, and overall health of the goose population throughout North America.
While hunters are encouraged to report all bands, some geese provide an extra incentive. On many double-banded geese, the second band carries a cash reward of between $25 and $100, as long as the hunter reports it. This shows the importance of reporting bands, which helps the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determine harvest levels and season durations.
Having harvested a bird with a $100 band, Camden’s Willis Trapp said his biggest reward wasn’t the money, but the insight it gave him into the goose that was carrying the band around its leg. A few weeks after reporting the band, the Bird Banding Laboratory sent Trapp details about where his goose had been banded and its age and weight at the time of banding. This type of data is provided to everyone who reports a band.
Reporting a banded goose is easy. On the web, hunters can visit www.reportband.gov, or they can call 800-327-BAND.