Action: Use voluntary agreements with local people to reduce disturbance
A before-and-after trial in the USA found significantly lower disturbance rates following the establishment of a voluntary waterfowl avoidance area (VWAA), despite an overall increase in boat traffic.
Many people will be willing to avoid certain areas or activities to help local bird populations if they are consulted and kept informed about conservation issues. Under these circumstances, voluntary agreements to avoid birds may be at least as effective in reducing disturbance as restricting access.
Supporting evidence from individual studies
A before-and-after study 1986 in Lake Onalaska, Wisconsin and Minnesota, USA (Kenow et al. 2003), found that disturbances to waterfowl within a voluntary waterfowl avoidance area (VWAA) established in 1986 decreased significantly over time. Despite an increase in boating traffic (1.82 boating events/hour in 1986-8 vs. 2.58 in 1997), the 1997 disturbance rate were comparable to that in 1981. Rate of intrusion into the VWAA was lower in 1997 (0.11 intrusions/boating event) than in either 1986-8 (0.18) or 1993 (0.21). Boating disturbances to waterfowl within the VWAA occurred at about half the rate (0.24-0.28 disturbances/hour) observed prior to establishment of the program (0.48 disturbances/hour). The total number of waterfowl displacements observed as a result of boating events was 435,770 in 1993 and 71,155 in 1997. More than 90% of all waterfowl were observed within the VWAA.