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RE: [CALBIRDS] Tern Colony Disaster

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  • Lidia Seebeck
    *Putting down my binocs for a moment to put on my political hat* If there is one thing I have learned in my six years of being politically active, is that most
    Message 1 of 7 , Jul 3, 2006
      *Putting down my binocs for a moment to put on my political hat*

      If there is one thing I have learned in my six years of being politically
      active, is that most incumbent politicians are deathly scared of their
      little fiefdom being upset by some issue or force, either from within their
      Party or otherwise, causing a defeat. All the recent attempts at
      gerrymandering point to this phenomenon. If birders want to remedy this
      situation, letters to those officials up for re-election this year could
      work wonders. If officials seem insensitive, then publicizing their
      responses could provoke some outrage and create some results.

      It's probably wise to look at the issue as one of responsibility rather than
      focusing on the birds. If the letters are perceived as being from a fringe
      of animal welfare types, they may not get as much response as if the letters
      point to the barge owner's responsibility in knowing laws that affect his
      boat operation such as the MBTA. For that matter, if people actually
      perceived one of their responsibilities as being to protect ecological
      diversity, this would be a different society!

      Lidia Seebeck

      Pachappa Hill, Riverside CA


      From: CALBIRDS@yahoogroups.com [mailto:CALBIRDS@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
      Of Kimball Garrett
      Sent: Monday, July 03, 2006 1:39 PM
      To: Luke Cole; Ed Stonick; CALBIRDS@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: RE: [CALBIRDS] Tern Colony Disaster


      There is, evidently, a full-blown investigation of the Long Beach Harbor
      tern colony disaster in the works. But this merely points out that
      wildlife agencies seem impotent to do anything to prevent such disasters
      (they can only attempt to react after disasters have happened). This is
      due mainly to two things:
      (1) California Fish and Game and U. S. Fish and Wildlife have
      been hit by staff and budget cutbacks (and, they will argue, by court
      challenges to their work) for so long that they can do very little in
      the way of habitat and wildlife protection. We're partly at fault
      because "we" keep electing anti-environment budget-axing politicians who
      could care less about wildlife. Fortunately, most politicians have to
      publicly appear to be opposed to the murder of cute, fuzzy baby terns,
      so maybe some pressure right now could result in some short-term gains.
      (2) The average American is absolutely 100% unaware of the
      Migratory Bird Treaty Act that protects our native bird species (and
      their parts, eggs, nests, etc.) from "take". I deal with the public all
      the time about such matters and it is astounding what people don't know.
      This means that agencies (and all of us) need to take a proactive,
      protective stance when sensitive wildlife issues arise. I don't know
      the details of the Long Beach case, but I find it fully believable that
      the barge caretakers had no clue that the terns "infesting" their barges
      had any legal protection. That's no excuse for violating the law, of
      course, but only a sea-change in thinking (i.e. operating on the
      assumption that all birds are protected from harm) will prevent future
      such occurrences. It is sad, but undoubtedly a consequence of (1)
      above, that the agencies knew about this colony and couldn't protect it,
      and allowed a second barge's nesting effort to be destroyed even as the
      issue was in the public spotlight after the first barge was ransacked.

      One other part to my tirade... Elegant and Caspian Terns nested nearly
      every year since the late 1990s in large numbers (along with small
      numbers of Royal Terns and Black Skimmers) on the fill area at Pier 400
      in Los Angeles Harbor, just a few miles from the Long Beach nesting
      site. Port construction proceeded (as planned) to the point that only a
      much smaller area of Pier 400 was available to colonial waterbirds.
      Because Least Terns are listed as Endangered and the other species are
      not so listed, the decision was made this year to allow ONLY Least Terns
      to nest in the area. Hence, we saw the movement of the Elegants and
      Caspians to what turns out to have been a disastrous alternative site.
      Once again, we are incapable of managing for a diversity of native
      species, proceeding instead with the tunnel-vision of protecting only
      "listed" species. It seems perfectly reasonable that port expansion
      planning could have accommodating several (not just one) tern species,
      but that didn't happen.

      Extensive efforts are being made to raise and ultimately release the few
      dozen young terns recovered alive. This is laudable, but a cursory
      knowledge of tern biology (with juveniles being fed by adults for weeks
      or even months post-fledging, and the specialized foraging techniques
      requiring much parental tutelage) suggests that the efforts are likely
      to have little success. All released birds will be banded, so this will
      be a good opportunity to monitor the efficacy of such rehabilitation

      Here's hoping that birders, wildlife agencies, and those who use the
      harbor areas of Long Beach and Los Angeles can find a way to protect
      these terns in the future.


      Kimball L. Garrett
      Ornithology Collections Manager
      Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
      900 Exposition Blvd.
      Los Angeles CA 90007
      (213) 763-3368
      (213) 746-2999 FAX
      kgarrett@nhm. <mailto:kgarrett%40nhm.org> org

      > -----Original Message-----
      > From: CALBIRDS@yahoogroup <mailto:CALBIRDS%40yahoogroups.com> s.com
      [mailto:CALBIRDS@yahoogroup <mailto:CALBIRDS%40yahoogroups.com> s.com] On
      > Of Luke Cole
      > Sent: Sunday, July 02, 2006 8:55 AM
      > To: Ed Stonick; CALBIRDS@yahoogroup <mailto:CALBIRDS%40yahoogroups.com>
      > Subject: Re: [CALBIRDS] Tern Colony Disaster
      > This seems like an excellent opportunity for criminal prosecution
      > state and federal endangered species laws. We need to put pressure on
      > local District Attorneys and U.S. Attorneys to have some prosecution
      > outrageous!
      > Luke

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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