While the seniors in Doug Ploof’s natural resources class at Little Falls Community High School hunted for ducks, May 9-10, the purpose wasn’t to kill them, but to tag them with the help of Department of Natural Resources wetland wildlife habitat specialist John Maile.
The group spent two days of the natural resources class traveling around Little Falls from Linden Hill to Lindbergh State Park looking through special duck houses on trees along the Mississippi River.
If a duck was found, the students would put a net over the exit of the duck house and get them to fly out, so they could be caught and gently tagged with a metal band.
“We learn a lot about wetlands through duck use,” Maile said. “It’s a pretty neat way to find out where they are and what wetlands they are using.”
The importance of programs like Ploof’s class, Maile said, is that it gets young people interested in wetland conservation and other natural resources aspects.
For some of the students, natural resources is already a field they’re more than a little interested in.
Senior Michael Hanowski plans to go into the natural resources field following graduation.
The opportunity to get hands-on experience with something like duck banding interested him, Hanowski said.
“It’s a pretty cool project,” Hanowski said. “This is my second year doing this so it’s kind of nice to see year to year what actually happens.”
When the class went out, the houses were sparsely populated with only three or four ducks found during the trip.
Ploof said he and the class would look at trying to observe them again this year.
The program was part of National Wetlands Month.