We reported in our February issue and on this blog about the illegal trapping and killing of hawks and falcons by pigeon fanciers in California, Oregon, and other states. Now comes word that gamekeepers in Britain have been doing the same thing. Three were convicted of using live-baited traps to catch Sparrowhawks, Goshawks, and other protected birds of prey on an estate in North Yorkshire. The keepers, as crass as the pigeon fanciers are demented, wanted to keep the raptors from attacking the grouse and partridges that the estate's shotgun-toting, sport-minded patrons like to blast out of the sky.
An investigator from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds denounced the trapping. "This is a disgraceful practice and is a huge problem across the whole of upland Britain. There are large areas of the country where very rare and charismatic birds are either absent or in very low numbers because of illegal trapping, shooting and poisoning." (Read the news from the RSPB.)
Also, on this side of the Atlantic, the Interior Department announced a proposal to remove Brown Pelicans from the national endangered species list. The delisting would include the California Brown Pelican -- the western subspecies that breeds from the Channel Islands to the Mexican mainland -- as well as subspecies along the Gulf Coast, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. The Atlantic Coast population was removed from the list in 1985.
Scientists say that in southern California, the pelicans' reproductive failure was caused almost entirely by Montrose Chemical, a DDT manufacturer that dumped the pesticide by the ton into sewers that empty off the Palos Verdes Peninsula. As we reported in December, the ocean floor off Palos Verdes remains heavily contaminated to this day, and the chemical continues to affect Bald Eagles, a species recently removed from the list. --C.H.