U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version



J. Raptor Res. 48(3):289–291.


U.S. government work.


Kenward et al. (2001) observed: ‘‘Techniques for studying animals should not prejudice either the welfare of the individuals or the scientific quality of the results. This is especially important when advances in technology create new opportunities, as well as new risks.’’ Satellite telemetry technology has revolutionized the ability of scientists to conduct long-term studies of avian movements and behavior (e.g., Prince et al. 1992, Cappelle et al. 2011, Chevallier et al. 2011). Effective application of this technology depends on many factors, including the proper attachment of the transmitter to the bird. For large birds, transmitters are attached using a backpack-style harness to position the transmitter snugly on the back of the bird (e.g., Dunstan 1972, Buehler et al. 1995). The harness is then secured by sewing, gluing, or crimping brass ferrules around the leads of the harness, the exact methods depending upon the preferences of the investigator. In previous telemetry studies with vultures, we found that properly fitting and securing the harness by sewing, gluing, and crimping was sometimes difficult and stressful to the bird as well as to the investigator. So, to help prevent transmitter loss, obtain a proper fit, and expedite the attachment procedure, we developed and tested a new method that is quicker, easier, and inexpensive to apply, and that improves the security of the harness for long-term satellite telemetry studies (Avery et al. 2011).

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