I am lucky enough to live in a place where I have a wide
view, up close, of many kinds of birds as I work. A sixty foot dam draws
them, and the curve of the cove, edged with trees, sends them to me.
Many of my favorites are today targets for the "genetic cleansing" program
being implemented by the federal government's killing agencies, U.S.
Fish and Wildlife, USDA and APHIS, and it has changed my life.
I go down the list, from the first birds I see in the morning,
the gulls leaving a hidden nursery down the lake, alone or two at a time,
shining white even in the barest bit of sun; the noisy, funny crows;
the cormorants, mergansers and buffle heads in season; the doves and
many songbirds (less since the spraying for the virus,) all beautiful
in their way and most targeted for removal, total or in great numbers.
What natural force of nature is doing this? Nothing natural, it is against
nature and it is codified and carried out by ................I can't
think of a term beyond agency predators, which brings me to a major federal
program we see lauded everywhere: raptor restoration.
Raptors are the preferred birds of the day. Hawks, some
kinds of owls, and of course the one called "the creme de la creme," by
people who couldn't spell that term if they tried, the Peregrine Falcon.
The raptors do what vultures do, only raptors prefer fresh meat. The "birding" public
is told these birds eat only the ill, old, feeble, and provide a service,
but being very smart, these birds eat whatever they can, of course. Their
p.r. people have done a good job and the misinformed public gives a knee
jerk reaction when the word "raptor" is mentioned, but they
eat the young of songbirds and others, small animals, and your kitten,
if you let it out unguarded. Millions of taxpayer dollars have gone into
breeding these birds, which are then trained to hunt, producing income
for the agencies through permitting ( you must have known there was a
financial motive). This is a big industry and USF&W can now capture
falcons from the wild, marketing these expensive birds internationally.
It and the people who applaud it, are a throwback to the Middle Ages.
The agencies have been blatant, especially back when they
felt free to say what they liked, unimpeded. They felt above the law
as possessors of "the power." They are the government, they
think, but actually we are, the voters and tax payers. They are just
the hired guns. I learned early that they pad their books and lie in
reports, just like ENRON. Now, five years later, they have demonstrated
this malevolent frame of mind in terrible ways and we mere tax paying
mortals, to a great extent, neither know about nor make an effort to
stop, what they do. We, most of us, feel powerless. I have made every
effort to stay mad, rather than sad, and I fight every day.
At a Trumpeter Swan Society meeting several years back,
(and by the way this and many other well publicized groups with very
small memberships are made up almost exclusively of ex-state and federal
wildlife employees and of course hunters,) a speaker for the USGS said
that "if we can remove even one nonnative species, we can then sell
our expertise to countries all over the world, because noone has been
able to do that." They aim to be the best damn exterminators in
the world. Their most visible target is a big, white bird, with a history
of being loved all over the northern latitudes through Europe and Asia
for thousands of years, loved by normal people in this country but vilified
by the agencies and those "environmental" groups that live
on federal grants: Audubon, Defenders, Nature Conservancy, WWF, who have
to go along to get those grants.
The mute swan is now being shotgunned on the nest, having
its neck broken, its offspring destroyed and its nests incinerated, by
Federal and state agencies and the miscreants in the public who think
they are doing something good. This despite our win in federal court.
The agencies have spit in the face of the law and decency, but we are
back with another case. Our best exhibits will be material prepared by
the agencies themselves.
Last week, the annual counting of the swans in England
took place, a public ceremony that goes back more than three hundred
years. What is there about this country and the people in it who allow
our government, no matter who is at the helm, to destroy anything. How
can the public go along, mindlessly, promoting whatever they are told
is good, killing what they are told is bad, without knowing the facts?
This, and the methods the agencies use, such as rounding up and gassing,
have a familiar ring and are desensitizing activities. When many of the
newspaper environmental writers have lived on federal grants, guess where
their viewpoint begins? Factual pressure on state and federal representatives,
who live on our votes, must be kept up. Voting is free, a letter costs
37 cents to mail. Continue to do both and get everyone you know to do
the same. Remember, stay mad, not sad.
Kathryn Burton is President of Save Our Swans, [email protected] ,
JUST AS WE WERE GOING TO PRINT, KATHRYN E-MAILED THE
Final tally, despite just a few days and the wrong email
address is 2400 FOR the swans, 22 against. No permits will be given.
Of course knowing the people we are working with, we will
go ahead with our court case, anyway.
Thanks for all the support and good thoughts sent our way
on big white wings.
I hope our fight, yours and SOS, have gotten the public's
attention and some of them are now awake.
God bless our wildlife and God bless the fighters on our
side, who give so much.
Thank you Thank you Thank you!