The Effectiveness of Innovative Wildlife Harvest Tools : Field Assessments of Behavior and Hunter Harvest Success
Campillo, Luke C.
Anliker, Scott K.
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For centuries hunters have been using waterfowl decoys in an attempt to attract more birds for harvest, yet what makes a decoy effective is relatively unstudied. More recently, new paint technology has introduced decoy colors that aim to look more like real feather colors due to the addition of UVreflecting properties. This stems from research showing that birds have the ability to see UV reflectance due to a fourth type of cone cell sensitive from 300-410 nm (humans are blind to UV wavelengths, having only three cone cells, none sensitive to UV), and that duck feathers of many colors reflect UV light. Hence, our study aimed to investigate duck responses to decoys painted with UV reflecting paint, with the prediction that these decoys will attract more waterfowl compared to decoys painted with traditional colored paints. During fall 2008 and 2009, we collected both behavioral data, recording the number of ducks and number of flocks to come within 50 m of the two types of decoys and the total time ducks spent within 50m of the decoys, and hunter success data, recording the number of ducks harvested using each type of decoy. We found more ducks and more flocks visited, and more total time was spent among, the UV-painted decoys, indicating an overall preference for these decoys compared to the traditionally painted decoys. However, success by hunters was similar using both types of decoys, suggesting that other factors involved with hunting may be more important than decoy appearance.
Advisor: Muir Eaton