NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Most bond ETFs have sunk lately. This year Vanguard Total Bond Market ( BND) has dropped 4.6%, while iShares Barclays 20+ year Treasury Bond ( TLT) fell 12.5%, according to Morningstar. Rising interest rates have caused the damage. When rates rise, bond prices tend to fall as investors dump existing issues with low yields.AGG), which tracks the Barclays Aggregate, lost 2.0%. In comparison the yield on 10-year Treasuries climbed 100 basis points during the six months ending in March 2011. But because the duration was shorter then, the ETF only lost 1.4%. BSV), which has a duration of 2.72 years and lost only 0.5% in May. Another approach is to buy actively managed mutual funds that can shorten their durations when rates rise. Mutual funds that outdid the benchmarks during the recent downturn include Ave Maria Bond ( AVEFX), Frost Total Return Bond ( FATRX), Scout Core Plus Bond ( SCPYX) and Western Asset Mortgage Backed Securities ( SGVAX).