Toll-Free and Long-Distance Ducks
Two totally unrelated stories about ducks, and luck.
As The Duck Flies
A duck hunter on the Mississippi Delta noticed that a pintail his retriever brought him on January 2 had a band attached to its leg, which is not an unusual occurrence on the waterfowl-rich flyway.
Freddie Scott took the banded bird over to a well-lighted corner of the duck blind so he could read the information contained on the metal tag.
The first word that caught his eye was different than anything he’d ever seen on a duck or goose band—far different.
It was the word: JAPAN.
“There was no phone number like you usually see on a band,” Scott later told the Jackson (MS) Clarion-Ledger. “There was just a series of numbers and the words ‘Kankyocho-Tokyo Japan,’” he said. “I said out loud ‘this ain’t right,’ and I started thinking somebody was playing a trick.”
Two days later, returning to his home in LaGrange, Ga., Scott began doing some research on his well-traveled waterfowl.
He contacted USDA biologist Jeffrey Lee from the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Pearl, Miss., who subsequently was referred to Yamashina Institute of Ornithology Bird Migration Research Center in Konoyama, Japan. And thanks to the wonder of e-mail, within 24 hours Lee discovered the long-distance duck had been banded in Japan, by Ryuhei Honma, a member of the Japanese Bird Banding Association, on Hyoko Lake near the country’s northwestern coast on Feb. 16, seven years earlier.
Hyoko Lake is more than 6,700 miles from Ruleville, Miss.—as the duck flies, that is.
So, not only was Scott’s pintail an incredible world traveler, but it was also a grand old duck, as most wild birds of that species live an average of 2 to 3 years.
“Because the bird was said to have been at least a year old when banded, that means it had to be at least 8 years old,” Lee said. “They also said that prior to this, Utah was the farthest a Japan band had been collected.”
You Lucky Duck
In what the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is called “an unfortunate typographical error,” a phone number contained on a card affixed to last year’s Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp connects callers to a phone sex line.
Instead of the correct number, which translates to 1-800-STAMP24, callers were directed to call 1-800-872-6724, which translates to 1-800-TRAMP24.
Rather than receiving information about how to purchase another $15 federal duck stamp, if you call the printed number a recorded message invites you to spend $1.99 a minute to “talk only to the girls that turn you on.”
You lucky duck.
A spokesperson for the US Fish and Wildlife Service said there were no plans to spend the estimated $300,000 it would cost to reprint the cards.
About 3.5 million federal duck stamps are printed and sold annual to waterfowl hunters aged 16 years and older. Sales of the stamp contribute about $25 million each year toward funding wetland habitat acquisition for the national Wildlife Refuge System.