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View Diary: UPDATE: USDA Killing 1000s Birds for Years/LRAD New Technology (137 comments)

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  •  On bird control (17+ / 0-)

    Red-winged blackbirds can become a nuisance species in some places.  They are, however, protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty.  Culls in support of agriculture are allowed under the treaty, but only by permit.  In short, if dead red-winged blackbirds were the result of a targeted kill, there would need to have been an injurious to agriculture permit issued.  If a starling cull (see below) causes a mass death of red-winged blackbirds, well ... someone screwed up, badly.  Besides the fact that shouldn't ever happen, it's also the sort of thing that gets you fired.  Or fined.  A lot.  Or both.

    But you are right that the government kills starlings.  In fact, a few years ago, the last time I knew the numbers, the government killed an estimated 1.7 million starlings that year.  Not that we're running out.  Starlings are an invasive species.  They've caused huge population crashes for just about every native bird their size, especially bluebirds and the purple martin.  As a result, they (and the House Sparrow) have no protection under the Migratory Bird Treaty.  In most places, they don't even have any hunting restrictions.  Starling season is every season, and the bag limit is "all of them".

    Mass poisoning of starlings might not seem like an elegant solution.  In fact, it's not a "solution", in that it's just trying to manage and control the problem rather than solving it.  There are not an abundance of other options currently available.  Invasive species control is one of the major unanswered problems in ecology management.

    "We are not entitled to our opinions; we are entitled to our informed opinions. Without research, without background, without understanding, it's nothing."

    by Serpents Choice on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 02:23:57 PM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  while I can't emotionally agree (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BachFan, ginja, War on Error

      with mass killings of any animals, its true that invasive species can be bad for the environment, wiping out all competitors, limiting biological diversity and upsetting the balance of ecosystems.

      Invasive plant species can do the same kind of damage.  Its just harder to think of killing millions of birds as opposed to millions of strands of Chinese wisteria.  

      •  Agreed (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Kevskos, pico, War on Error, jfromga, Joieau

        In a fairer world, we wouldn't have invasive species, or at least they'd only be unlovable sorts.  But I'm an unwavering supporter of control and, where possible, eradication of invasives, whether that means kudzu or starlings here, feral cats on various islands, rabbits in Australia, or red foxes in Tasmania.

        "We are not entitled to our opinions; we are entitled to our informed opinions. Without research, without background, without understanding, it's nothing."

        by Serpents Choice on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 02:53:59 PM PST

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        •  Not sure wide spread poisoning is (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ginja, jfromga, Joieau

          the right answer.  The poisons don't disapper, but could ultimately create a much more dangerous invasive species.

          But we are so far down the ladder of altering nature, I am not sure that nature, herself, won't rid herself of us, just so she can survive.

          It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

          by War on Error on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 03:34:40 PM PST

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          •  Actually, this one does. (5+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Kevskos, accumbens, pico, jfromga, ban nock

            Having found the compound used for starling control, it's a remarkably "good" poison.  It is fatal to starlings (and a few other types of birds, including gulls, which it is also used to control) in extremely low doses, fatal to most everything else only in markedly higher amounts, and photodegrades in soil in about a day or in other conditions between 6 hours and 2 days, and has photometabolites with minimal recognized toxicity.  Besides, these culls are done with targeted baiting, not with any sort of widespread dispersion.  It's a hugely different sort of chemical than something like 1080, which is admittedly pretty nasty, but is about the only option in, say, Tasmania, for red fox extirpation efforts.

            And I'm not sure what you're going for by claiming that poison culls of environmentally damaging invasive species can "create a much more dangerous invasive species".  This isn't the bit where we import a predator or a starling disease and let it loose.

            That said, if there was a better method of mass-scale control of invasive species, ANY invasive species, I'd be all for it.  This is only one of the most critical outstanding problems in ecology management today, after all.

            "We are not entitled to our opinions; we are entitled to our informed opinions. Without research, without background, without understanding, it's nothing."

            by Serpents Choice on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 03:43:16 PM PST

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      •  Holy Kudzu, Batman! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bronte17, jfromga

        Ah, it's so pretty. Extreme high protein greens for pot likker too, as well as the most nutritious goat/cow/horse fodder on the planet. Plus, it makes the finest black tilth compost ever underneath, as it dies back each fall. Legume, you know.

        Unfortunately it grows 2 feet or more a day, literally eats houses, cars and slow moving critters (you may never find them again). Invades and destroys forest stands, interferes with electric and telephone transmission where the utility uses above-ground wires, and cannot be controlled by anything but goats. No mower (believe me, we have a Super DR and 13+ acres) or harvester can handle the vines in season. I'd get goats, but bears would eat 'em (same reason I don't have chickens or bees).

        Sorry. "Invasive" is most certainly the proper term. There's laws, they can come spray very gnarly crap on my property any time without permission. So far, they haven't. The railroad just sprays RoundUp twice a season to keep the rails from disappearing. It's biodegradable, gets nowhere near my crops, orchard or vineyard.

        Now, more than ever, we need the Jedi.

        by Joieau on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 03:58:05 PM PST

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        •  My sympathies (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Kevskos, War on Error, jfromga, Joieau

          For having to deal with kudzu management.  It is actually possible to eradicate it, but it's grossly labor intensive.

          "We are not entitled to our opinions; we are entitled to our informed opinions. Without research, without background, without understanding, it's nothing."

          by Serpents Choice on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 04:08:12 PM PST

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          •  Those monster roots (6+ / 0-)

            that produce the vines every year provide a staple starch as well as a treatment for alcoholism and liver disease on the Chinese market. I can sell them just as I sell my goldenseal and ginseng and black cohosh. The flowers make very nice jelly, though nobody likes jelly around my 'stead (prefer jam). Still, they're beautiful. We do eat the greens, I mix 'em with kale or collards because they're too light (mushy) for us to eat plain. Very nutritious. Have made baskets and wreaths from the fall vines, as well as some very sturdy pole bean tents for the garden. Someone in South Carolina says he has a harvester that can handle the vines, which if true opens up a huge fodder market.

            I can live with it. As, I have noticed over the years, can almost all the native plants that it's competing with. The natives have simply altered their life cycle - honest, it's amazing - to grow, mature, flower and seed before the kudzu greens in late spring. Same species of natives grow elsewhere on the property unstressed by kudzu, keep their normal cycle and get much bigger overall, sometimes have different colored blooms, and make use of different insect pollenators. Life finds a way, evolution in action.

            Now, more than ever, we need the Jedi.

            by Joieau on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 04:21:20 PM PST

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          •  Are you all up on the invasive species (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            jfromga

            taking over the Mediteranean Sea?

            Someone dumped their aquarium into the Med Sea and not it's really, really, really widespread.

            Maybe this globalization thingy isn't all that great for most of us that don't have private jets.

            It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

            by War on Error on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 04:21:52 PM PST

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            •  The Med (6+ / 0-)

              The problems of the Mediterranean deserve a diary.  Actually, they deserve a diary series, because no one would ever read it all in one sitting.  Maybe I'll add "invasive species roundup" to my list of planned DK4 diary series.

              Short version: the Med is, to be totally blunt, a clusterfuck.  It has alien species that have become established by traversing the Suez Canal, by entering from the Atlantic on ships or in ballast water, by escapes from coastal mariculture, and by aquarium introduction.  It doesn't help that several countries on the Med go through the motions of fish catch limits every year seemingly just so they can flout them.

              "We are not entitled to our opinions; we are entitled to our informed opinions. Without research, without background, without understanding, it's nothing."

              by Serpents Choice on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 04:36:27 PM PST

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              •  That would be a great dk4 series. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                BachFan, jfromga

                Thank you very much for your help today with this topic.  You really helped tremendously.

                What a shame that we don't feel the Partnership the government and the people could be.  Instead it feels more like the Corporate/Government partnership vs the people.  Some days are better than others.

                Thousands of protected birds dropping dead and falling from the sky with no warning is one of those bad days.

                It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

                by War on Error on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 05:21:02 PM PST

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                •  Appreciated! (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  BachFan, War on Error, jfromga

                  DK4 is going to keep me really, really busy.

                  I do want to add one thing.  It's important to keep in mind that, even when the government drops the ball on its duties, the people who work in these low-level positions, like at state Fish and Game Commissions, are almost always "real people" who care about their job as managers and caretakers of our natural legacy.

                  They don't take away your soul when you take a government job, and those state and local offices are without exception overworked, undermanned, and underpaid and underfunded.  It's sometimes easy to lose track of that, and think of the government as a monolithic entity, with everyone on the same page.

                  "We are not entitled to our opinions; we are entitled to our informed opinions. Without research, without background, without understanding, it's nothing."

                  by Serpents Choice on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 05:34:59 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

      •  That's why we need investment in research to come (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ginja, War on Error, jfromga

        up with better solutions. Like some kind birth control for the invasive species. Bio-controls for plants, that don't become pests too, etc.
        We spend the last hundred years doing research with petroleum mainly, the less troublesome solutions have been researched only for a couple of decades.

    •  Hi, just added new info regarding the change (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joieau

      to the Migratory Bird Treaty

      Made by the infamous 108th Rubber Stamp Congress.  They removed over 90 species.  Is it at all possible that the door was opened for killing off the pesky, rice crop damaging, Redwinged Blackbirds?

      It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

      by War on Error on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 03:01:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Nope. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        pico, War on Error

        Actually they removed far fewer than that when all was said and done.  There are more "species" removed because, in the interim, a lot of taxonomy had changed and so the names of species as enacted were no longer current.  The problem was solved by removal of the old ones and addition of the new ones.

        There were about a dozen species actually struck from the list, almost all of which had to do with how the "native range" of birds was determined as regards outlaying areas.  Oh, and the mute swan was dropped from the list because it is, in fact, not native, and shouldn't have had protections in the first place.

        Red-winged blackbirds, I assure you, are still there.  In fact, the full list is helpfully available from the Fish and Wildlife Service, here.

        "We are not entitled to our opinions; we are entitled to our informed opinions. Without research, without background, without understanding, it's nothing."

        by Serpents Choice on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 03:17:27 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Just a quick correction (0+ / 0-)

        I think you mean AR (Arkansas) not AK (Alaska)?

        Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth - Abraham Lincoln

        by Gustogirl on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 03:44:28 PM PST

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    •  Mixed Flocks Of Grackles/Cowbirds/Blackbirds (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      War on Error, Joieau

      They always show up in the the fall. While they don't flock as tightly as starlings, there are many hundreds over a fairly small area. We like them because them because of their crow like behavior and will take food like pigeons, which is entertaining in a large wild bird.

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