Cannon Netting (ABC forum)

To: "J & C Krohn" <>, "Tracey Austin" <>
Subject: Cannon Netting (ABC forum)
From: "Scott O'Keeffe" <>
Date: Mon, 30 Apr 2001 22:47:58 +1000
Well said, Jack.

Scott O'Keeffe

-----Original Message-----
 Behalf Of J & C Krohn
Sent: 24 April 2001 20:08
To: Tracey Austin
Subject: Cannon Netting (ABC forum)

Tracey (and all),

I looked for this forum on the ABC website to-night but couldn't find it.  I
have resisted the temptation to join any of the previous debates on
cannon-netting but was prepared to do so through the ABC forum if I could
have found it.  I was hoping the site might indicate who had written the
message.  This was because the message as copied into your email perpetuates
a number of the myths that I think have been thoroughly debunked by people
with considerable experience and understanding of the realities of
bird-banding - its practicalities, its ethics and its purposes.

The reference in the message to a "common" mortality rate of 4% is rubbish.
Even in the early days of the technique such a rate would have been regarded
as unacceptable.  On the few occasions when I took part in cannon-netting
projects, in the early 1980s, well over a thousand birds were caught, and
only one was killed.  It was standard practice not to fire the nets at all
if there were birds in the designated danger areas (in front of the cannon
muzzles and where the missiles land).

Certainly over time other techniques for monitoring bird movements and
behaviour have evolved and continue to evolve, and there should be a regular
and frequent review of techniques to ensure that the mix of methods in use
involves the most appropriate with regard to current information needs and
conservation priorities.  However, physically capturing individual birds
still gives access to a range of information which is not otherwise

We do not yet know all there is to know, or all we need to know, about the
ecology of the many wader and other waterbird species that are most
efficiently and appropriately captured by means of cannon-netting.  These
birds are most seriously threatened by habitat loss, and it is essential to
gain a clear understanding of the different movement patterns of each
species, sub-species and discrete population if the correct responses to the
many land use proposals threatening potentially critical habitat are to be
prepared.  Only through recognition of the massive weight gains undertaken
by wader species immediately prior to migration was identification of the
essential "refuelling station" wetlands of the Asia Pacific Flyway able to
be attempted.

I am disturbed by the apparent determination on the part of some people
(especially those who have refused to identify themselves by name) to
discredit an important conservation and scientific tool which has enabled
significant advances in our understanding of vital ecological processes.
Why would anyone with the best interests of the birds at heart want to cast
aspersions, especially ill-founded ones, at such a valuable technique?  How
can those of us with the view that all techniques which generate useful
information and which can be conducted with the health and well-being of the
wildlife a top priority - as it should be - should be used to their best
advantage get this message through to policy-makers, senior bureaucrats and

Sorry to those who have heard more than enough on this topic.  Tracey, I'd
be happy to discuss it further off-list if you wish.


    Jack Krohn

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