Friday, January 08, 2010

Unacceptable: Killing of a Remnant

Recently I received a sickening email with the link to a story of a Whooping Crane, shot and killed, in the rural area around Cayuga, Indiana.   Had it been any other Whooper the loss would have been very sad.  However, the loss of 17-02 was extremely tragic.

Sometime at the end of November a very uninformed and ignorant human being destroyed the only captive Whooper who had successfully raised chicks in captivity.  This was a major blow to the captive Whooper program.

As a Hoosier, a hunter, involved in both Outdoor Writing, Conservation and Resource Advocacy, I am appalled, shocked and angered by the level of disrespect for life and sheer ignorance, that took the life of this invaluable avian.

It pains and shames me to say this ugly act of violence, has taken place in the shadow of my own Home Ground.

My sincerest apologies to all those who respect and admire this majestic bird. I can assure you, this is NOT the mindset of your typical Hoosier. Whomever perpetrated this cowardly act, has embarrassed ALL Hoosiers.

I would also like to address the tenor and direction of a few comment threads I've read online accompanying articles about the death of Whooper 17-02.

1) No other word describes the Whooping Crane population better than FRAGILE.

It is true that roughly 500 living members of the once vast populations of Whooping Cranes survive. So, the death of this one Whooper isn't as if someone killed, 'one of the last 10 individuals'. But, when one reads the science behind the recovery effort,  it quickly becomes evident the problem of species recovery, does NOT hinge on population numbers.  The problem is all about FECUDITY: breeding and the ability to PRODUCE OFFSPRING.

Thus, since the individual Whooper, killed in Indiana, was the ONLY successful female to produce a living offspring in any study group, in North America, it was a HUGE loss.  The only other study group in North Amercia was scrapped a year earlier due to several years of zero fecundity.

To demonstrate just how fragile the Whooper population is, during a 2007 Spring storm, in Florida, 16 yearling Whoopers were killed. That was an entire year class gone in one swipe.  In the wild, the population is susceptible to predation, accident, storm, disease, toxic poisoning and of course human stupidity.

A small population also means a very limited genetic diversity pool.  Genetic diversity equates to a stronger population.

One of the greatest benefits is natural immunity strength against disease.  If the wild populations are hit hard by any of the above disasters, the entire species would be at extreme risk of extinction.

Again, FRAGILE is the key concept.  Thus loosing 17-02 was a very BIG deal.

2) HUNTERS: just because a human kills another species of animal, the act does NOT make them a hunter..!

The person who took the life of 17-02 was NOT a hunter.  Not in even the loosest of terms.  The irresponsible human who committed this atrocity was a KILLER.  NOT a hunter.  Any true hunter is both sickened and outraged by this criminal act.

For it was not only Federal Crime in violation of the Endangered Species Act, but a violation against everything all responsible hunters commit to.  This is a violation against the very heart and soul of the hunting heritage; conservation, respect for the resource and the passage of the heritage to the next generations.

3) Broad Brushing All Hoosiers as, "... ignorant clods.." - offensive, wrong and small minded.

Too many have been quick to paint the Hoosier name as ignorant killers.  Indiana has its problems, but it's not unique.

Every state and nation has its undesired minority of morons. But while those who chuck verbal molotovs, run, hide and toss insults - there are many of us who remain and work to educate and clean up the messes created by the few loose canons we share with the rest of the world.

I challenge all who would resort to such useless drivel by taking the simple minded approach and wiping the table clean with an improbable curse, so-to-speak,  to get out and involve yourself in frontline grassroots efforts to combat the cause.

Be a part of the solution.  Not the problem.  Or worse... a roadblock to change.