Massey University PhD student Jesse Conklin explains that any capture of birds will cause stress. He explains the canon technique they use is humane because it happens quickly so the godwits don’t have time to get hurt.
Pete & Judy Morrin Productions
Capture certainly causes some level of stress. The canon netting itself is actually traumatic for everybody involved because it is actually explosive, and this is a way to get a net out very quickly, and even though a canon is sort of a violent kind of word, it’s actually a humane way to do it because, the faster you get a net out, the less a bird is going to be in a place where you don’t want it to be.
So of course, you don’t fire anything like that until you believe it’s completely safe and no birds are in the danger zone, and if they are then you just don’t fire. Basically, an explosive charge goes off, so that certainly causes stress. Whenever a bird is handled, however it is captured, it is going to cause a certain amount of stress. These birds are pretty good about being handled and captured – it’s not obvious that they stress out a lot – and their survival rate is extremely high after being captured, banded, released, so they deal with it very well. Of course, any amount of stress is indeed stress.