Re: [Mendobirds] Murdering Barred Owls in California
I think Muir's quote illustrates my personal objection to all such
attempts by humans to "pick winners" in the ecological competition of
life. We all know that evolution continues, yet we instinctively try to
prevent it happening during our lifetimes. It seems to be a form of
nostalgia, the natural human longing for a world fixed at some point in
the past. (Which itself is probably a manifestation of our fear of
death, but that's getting pretty far from the forest!)
We also let emotion cloud our scientific thinking, placing more value on
certain species and less on others, based mostly on personal criteria.
If the BAOW is better able to adapt to the changing environment of the
West, whatever the cause of that change, why should humanity attempt to
prevent it from succeeding? And if BAOW success results from changing
habitat, why do we think killing a bunch of them will change the
long-term course of evolution?
p.s. Lest anyone mistake me, I should add that I do these sorts of
things myself. Starlings, cowbirds, and housecats are unwelcome in the
patch of habitat where I am able to impose my subjective value
judgements, and I apply selection pressure to the best of my ability. I
just don't think it should be done as a matter of public policy.
On 2/18/2012 11:46 PM, Chet Ogan wrote:
> When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.
> -John Muir
- I don't know enough about the Barred vs. Spotted Owl subject to offer an opinion other than that I am finding the discussion interesting.
I was surprised to find Cowbirds equated with cats and Starlings, even though Chuck has over the years never failed to describe them as a plague.
I have found their adaptation fascinating, but have been at a loss to figure out the huge variation in their numbers around my place in SE Potter Valley. They were as common as any bird for a long period and now have been completely absent for at least five years (probably more).
Any others with this experience?
I would be happy to ask this in a new thread, but it does seem connected to this one.
In 1810 Alexander Wilson saw a flock of Passenger Pigeon (now extinct) in Kentucky flying overhead "at a height beyond gun shot . . .from right to left far as the eye could reach " for five hours. He estimated the total number to be 2,230,272,000. John James Audubon in 1826,"after observing one pigeon slaughter, he said "Persons acquainted with these birds might naturally conclude that such havoc would soon put and end to the species. But I have satified myself, by long observation, that nothing but the gradual diminution of our forests can accomplish this decrease." from The History of Wildlife in America by Hal Borland and National Wildlife Federation 1975. Pages 86-87. For the big picture, please read the whole book - it's very informative.
Systematic thinning of one species in favor of another is very dangerous although we agree with Tim. Killing the Barred Owls won't save the Spotted Owl. Unfortunately, it's too late. There are so many success stories in wildlife management. Killing Owls won't be one of them!
Agree to disagree,
Jeff and Beth
From: Chet Ogan <chet_ogan@...>
To: Jeff Petit <bethandjeff35@...>; "Mendobirds@yahoogroups.com" <Mendobirds@yahoogroups.com>
Sent: Saturday, February 18, 2012 11:46 PM
Subject: Re: [Mendobirds] Murdering Barred Owls in California
Twenty years ago after many years of debate and testimony and a lot of work by scientists, including myself, and a declaration by USFWS that Northern Spotted Owls were an endangered species, they (NSOW) received Endangered status. This also involved millions of dollars spent in research, debates, scientist's testimonies, lost timber dollars to counties, etc. It is not without a lot of study that the "taking" of Barred Owls, which do interbreed with Spotted Owls, is being undertaken. There are 30-year studies into the demographics of NSOW in Humboldt and Trinity counties on both private and federal lands, Lassen County, the coast and Cascade regions of Oregon, the Sierra Nevada forests. It is in these areas where several generations NSOW has been intensively studied that this "take" in being done. USFWS presented a program to our Audubon chapter over 2 years ago on the various aspects of these studies. I suggest you look at some of our back issues
of "The Sandpiper" (Redwood Region Audubon Society) and read about it. USFWS tried to find zoos and institutes, wildlife care centers, groups that use raptors for show-and-tell programs to accept Barred Owls which would be displaced. Very few places wanted them. The only option then was lethal "take" in order to try to save NSOW. In Redwood National Park, once a place where NSOW could easily be found, has lost almost all its NSOW territories to BAOW. BAOW have a much broader food base, including a diet which consists of greater percentage of birds. More insects, reptiles, and crawfish are also on their diet. In my career I analyzed 5000 Spotted Owl pellets for diet content. I also looked at a few Barred Owl pellets. The difference in diet was immediately apparent. BAOW usurp the best old-forest habitat from NSOW.
This not the first time that a species has been "taken" at the expense of another species, you are hearing and getting sentimentally influenced by "yellow press" directed at reaction by PETA groups. Common Ravens in central Oregon were taken by USFWS to protect Franklin Gulls, for instance.
How many ground-nesting songbirds have been "murdered" by housecats? How many nesting seabirds have been "murdered" by introduced rats? How many species are extinct because of human introduced predators? How much oak woodland throughout the United States is being "rototilled" by introduced pigs?
Maybe you are saying "these Barred Owls came here into the western states naturally, leave them be." We created those conditions which allowed BAOW to move from eastern NA to the west. It is unclear whether BAOW moved across the north through Canada after we cut and opened up vast old-growth timber for our houses and for agriculture or whether our exclusion of fires in the prairies, which allowed poplars and cottonwoods to increase in riparian stream corridors across the Great Plains, was the reason why BAOW were able to successfully move across the continent. In either case, we were likely the cause of BAOW expansion. Should we just let it go, or should we try to solve the NSOW demise?
When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.
The first precaution of intelligent ecological tinkering is to keep every cog and wheel.
A system of conservation based solely on economic self-interest is hopelessly lopsided.
From: Jeff Petit <bethandjeff35@...>
To: "Mendobirds@yahoogroups.com" <Mendobirds@yahoogroups.com>
Sent: Saturday, February 18, 2012 8:25 AM
Subject: [Mendobirds] Murdering Barred Owls in California
Yesterday we switched from channel 7 evening news to WPIX, channel 5 for a change. Unfortunately we saw an extremely disturbing feature about the assasination of 3,000 Barred Owls in an attempt the save the endangered Spotted Owl. How can this possibly be justified? Is there anything we can to do to try to stop this blatent slaughtering of birds of prey?
Jeff and Beth Petit
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