From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 1995:
The National Audubon Society plans to use the alleged
mid-February poisoning of more than 40,000 waterfowl at Silva
Reservoir, Mexico, as a test of the strength of the North American
Commission on Environmental Cooperation, set up as part of the
North American Free Trade Agreement to monitor international pollu-
tion problems but not yet asked to rule on a case. The Mexican
National Water Commission blames the deaths on pesticide runoff.
Other sources blame chromium escaping from tanneries nearby, set
up to take advantage of the U.S. market opened by NAFTA.
Eagle deaths since November 1994 due to an unknown
toxin now total 27 in Arkansas, where the toxin causes brain damage,
and nine in Wisconsin, where liver damage is more common. Fifteen
eagles found dead in Wisconsin circa April, 1994, are believed to
have been deliberately poisoned, possibly by feather merchants.
Declaring the techniques of breeding sandhill cranes in
captivity to be perfected, the Pautuxent Wildlife Research Center in
Maryland has ended its crane project, sending 28 Mississippi sand-
hills to the Audubon Species Survival Center in New Orleans, and 18
more to the White Oak Conservation Center, in northern Florida.
Pressure to expand Canada goose hunting is growing in
Oregon, as goose numbers in the Willamette Valley are up to
120,000––enough that farmers consider them a nuisance––while the
season length and bag limits remain restricted to protect the dusky
goose, a subspecies almost indistinguishable on the wing from other
Canadas. Once the most numerous variety, dusky numbers fell after
the 1964 Alaskan earthquake altered their breeding habitat to allow
more predator access. There are now about 13,000 duskies.
Le Cirque, an elite New York restaurant, served 20
roasted ortolans on February 27. Migrating between Africa and
France, the hummingbird-sized ortolans are devoured whole, as the
eaters hold their napkins over their heads. Said chef Roger Verge,
“We eat it under the veil of the napkin so that God cannot see us.”
Though still hunted, ortolans receive limited legal protection in
France. They have no legal status in the U.S.
Zoologist Walter Boles, of the Australian Museum of
Science in Sydney, claimed March 2 to have found the oldest song-
bird on record. The bird lived about 55 million years ago, 30 million
years before the oldest songbird previously known.
The Guam Division of Agriculture and Resources h a s
bred a captive group of Guam rails up to 105 specimens, and will
soon attempt to restore the rail to the wild on nearby Rota Illand, in
batches of 30 to 50. Once common, the Guam rail has been extinct in
the wild since 1986––wiped out by the nest-robbing brown treesnake.
Poachers use grain laced with pesticides to kill 3 0 0 , 0 0 0
watefowl a year at the Poyang Lake sanctuary on the Yangtse River
in China, the Shanghai-based Liberation Daily reported on February
23. The birds’ gizzards are cut out upon retrieval to insure safety for
human consumption, and the remains are sold in Guangdong
province, at Hainan Island, and in Hong Kong, the Communist Party
paper said. More than 98% of the world’s remaining Siberian cranes
winter at Poyang Lake, but they’re more often shot than poisoned, as
they don’t take the bait. Raptors have already been eradicated from
the area. Designated a sanctuary in 1983, Poyang Lake is protected by
four forestry police officers and 40 rangers, who among them have
caught about 40 poachers involved in an estimated 200 incidents.
An impact report filed February 23 by the Walt Disney
Co. in connection with a 76-acre resort to be built between Laguna
Beach and Newport Beach, California, calls for trapping and killing
red foxes and cowbirds to protect a 15-acre reserve for the endangered
California gnatcatcher. Red foxes are not now on the property.
Mobil Oil agreed February 24 to cap all stacks at company
refineries by May 1, to prevent accidental bird deaths, ending a cam-
paign by PETA. PETA spokesperson Tracy Reiman said the group
would next demand stack-capping of Exxon, Chevron, and Shell Oil.
PETA has asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to
penalize NASA for not removing a protected great horned owl and
three hatchlings from the launching pad of the space shuttle Endeavor,
which blasted off from Cape Canaveral on March 2. All four were
killed, the owl from an apparent collision with part of the structure
after taking wing, and the hatchlings from exposure, apparently after
being soaked by the sprnkler system that cools the pad