Traditionally, state-space models are fitted to data where there is uncertainty in the observation or measurement of the system. State-space models are partitioned into an underlying system process describing the transitions of the true states of the system over time and the observation process linking the observations of the system to the true states. Open population capture–recapture–recovery data can be modelled in this framework by regarding the system process as the state of each individual observed within the study in terms of being alive or dead, and the observation process the recapture and/or recovery process. The traditional observation error of a state-space model is incorporated via the recapture/recovery probabilities being less than unity. The models can be fitted using a Bayesian data augmentation approach and in standard BUGS packages. Applying this state-space framework to such data permits additional complexities including individual heterogeneity to be fitted to the data at very little additional programming effort. We consider the efficiency of the state-space model fitting approach by considering a random effects model for capture–recapture data relating to dippers and compare different Bayesian model-fitting algorithms within WinBUGS.