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Birders Gone Wild

"It is a lot of money to spend on a bird that may or may not be extinct"

It's as extinct as the passenger pigeon, another bird that science can't "prove" is extinct but grown-ups have no trouble admitting is gone forever.


We may have to rethink that old adage.

Apparently "Tantalizing evidence" of a bird in the bush is worth 27 million times a bird in the hand.

Who knew?

Chuck Hagner

The New York Times today (Sun, 26 August 07) carried an article in which a FWS spokesman and Sam Hamilton, regional director for the service’s Southeast Region, state that spending $27 million on the woodpecker is worth it. Hamilton is the leader of the recovery team.

Quest for Lost Bird Is Worth It, Officials Say

“I would characterize it as tantalizing evidence. We don’t have an active nest right now, we don’t have an 8-by-10 glossy to look at every day,” the spokesman said. “But we’re learning a lot about the bird’s habitat needs and things like that. We’re optimistic.”


I think they would be better served making up for past errors by working to prevent birds like Golden-cheeked Warbler, Lesser Prairie-Chicken, and others from suffering the Ivory-bill's fate.

No amount of money is going to bring the Ivory-bill back, but funds cut off to other bird research could doom birds that can still be saved.


It is a lot of money to spend on a bird that may or may not be extinct, but the bigger problem is the fact that when this bird actually could have been saved, everyone turned away from it.

I guess they are trying to make up for past errors...


Here is the gist of what I will put in my comments: that there is no concrete evidence that this bird is not extinct -- the evidence so far after intensive searches is no more than suggestive; until there is, no federal funds should be spent for surveys, "assumption-driven research" (!), management of (as yet) rediscovered populations. If people want to donate to this expensive and likely fruitless endeavor, fine. This is not where I want my conservation tax dollars going. As a research ecologist that struggles to find funding to help answer basic ecological questions of real populations of birds, I can say that these dollars need to be spent far more wisely.

This is asinine.

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