Wednesday, May 27, 2015
Being a bird of “conservation concern” or even the oldest bird species on the continent is not enough to avoid being slaughtered under a little-known federal program that authorizes the killing of half a million birds a year.
The Center for Investigative Reporting’s Reveal looked into the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s “depredation permit” program, which allows businesses, farmers and others to kill members of more than 300 species of migratory birds each year. The body count during a recent three-year period totaled 1.6 million birds, or just over 500,000 a year.
|Brown-headed cowbird (photo: Wikipedia)|
Two-thirds of all the birds killed were brown-headed cowbirds, red-winged blackbirds, common grackles and Canada geese. The rest of those killed included upland sandpipers, barn owls, wood ducks, lesser yellowlegs, snowy owls, roseate spoonbills, curlew sandpipers, red-throated loons, great blue herons, white and brown pelicans, cedar waxwings, robins, belted kingfishers, mourning doves, red-tailed hawks, American kestrels, turkey vultures, mallard ducks and sandhill cranes, North America’s oldest bird species.
Some of the birds “are struggling to cope with habitat loss, climate change and other threats and are classified by the government as ‘birds of conservation concern,’” according to Reveal’s Rachael Bale and Tom Knudson. “These include upland sandpipers, lesser yellowlegs, roseate spoonbills and red-throated loons, who, because of declining populations, could be on their way to the endangered species list.”