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Providing evidence to improve practice

Action: Use voluntary agreements with local people to reduce disturbance Bird Conservation

Key messages

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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.


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.


Referenced papers

Please cite as:

Williams, D.R., Child, M.F., Dicks, L.V., Ockendon, N., Pople, R.G., Showler, D.A., Walsh, J.C., zu Ermgassen, E.K.H.J. & Sutherland, W.J. (2019) Bird Conservation. Pages 141-290 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, N. Ockendon, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2019. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.