[CT Birds] Conservation

Wayne Bartholomew wsbartholomew1 at gmail.com
Sun Mar 10 15:04:00 EDT 2013

I’ve been following with interest the discussions regarding feeding birds
of prey, hanging out seed and suet feeders and, more recently, the state of
grouse in Connecticut. Few people have mentioned though the fact that
humans have been creating habitat and feeding “wildlife” by design or
default for millennia. I think it goes without saying that we’ve been
hunting them for even longer. While certain non-human plant and animal
communities have suffered to the point of expatriation or extinction as a
result of human activities others have been attracted to and thrived along
side human communities.

For example, the agricultural fields and the complex garden plots of early
North and South American colonists as well as those of First Nations and
other indigenous settlements provided plenty of supplemental food resources
and habitat for “wildlife.” Community and household wastes were simply
deposited, with little fanfare, out of doors thus providing an additional
supplemental food reservoir. We continue this practice today but on a
larger scale in concentrated waste landfills –all those gulls at the
Windsor landfill aren’t there for the scenery.

Grouse are just one of many species of birds that benefit from such
practices. But, as people have already pointed out the decline in family
and community farms and timber harvesting has resulted in a significant
decline of the successional habitats that grouse and other birds and
animals prefer. Yet an increase in the “mature” forest settings is
benefiting other species. Continuing to work on opening up and creating
habitat which has been lost as a result of our changing land use patterns
(versus climate change) seems to be a logical solution if we wish – for
whatever reasons - to maintain certain non-human populations. Monitoring
the impacts of hunting on “game” species should also be ongoing. If this
were not the case I would have to say it would appear to a gross oversight
bordering on irresponsibility. If we do not have a good handle on grouse
demographics (regardless of the reason) then suspending hunting until we
have a better understanding of the state of these birds in CT seems to be
the only responsible thing to do.

Rather than focusing too much on single item issues though (grouse
populations outside of New England are hardly threatened) I would encourage
everyone to place our collective concerns within the context of the broader
issues confronting ecological systems today. We need to continue to forge
solutions in constructive partnerships with federal, state and local
governmental agencies, as wells as NGO’s and private interest groups. Even
if this entails supporting hunting (as distasteful as certain aspects of
this are to me to personally) as one solution towards preservation because
it has proved to be very successful in many instances.

I also feel that we should continue our supplemental feeding practices
although I do harbor deep concerns regarding the concentrations of
chemicals, endocrine disrupters, pharmaceuticals, nano particles and GMOs
being gathered up into or, otherwise incorporated into, the food chain.
Every trace humans make across the planet leaves behind a wake of
consequences and the eddies swirling outwards along this path and which
seemingly dissipate, in fact do not.

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