Bird Dog & Retriever News

August / September 2003 issue Page 28

 Counterpoint: Is It Time For A Season For Birds Of Prey?

Hi Dennis. Long time no see. Anyway, a
friend showed me your "point" story and
I felt compelled to write. I am writing this as a private individual and not in any way connected to my employer, Pheasants Forever. Anyway, hope you are well and here is my response:
Dear Editor: In response to your "Point" column in the June/July 2003 issue advocating a hunting season on birds of prey, I would just say that game birds would be about as challenging a prey for hunters as a barnyard chicken were it not for predators putting the heat on them and keeping them wild. Who would want to hunt a dumb chicken? Nobody.
Birds of prey are the farmers best friend because they keep rodent and insect populations from getting out of control. Rodents and insects consume or ruin tons of grain every year. Bird of prey populations are kept in check by prey abundance or lack thereof, predation by owls, starvation, weather, etc.
Personally, I love seeing our graceful birds of prey soaring about on a summer breeze. I can't imagine a world without them. I have seen hawks catch ducks and other game. These chance sightings have been some of the most exciting things I've witnessed in nature.
I once had a hawk nab a duck off the water that I had shot. The hawk ate the duck by the time I got to it. Frankly, I don't mind sharing game with my fellow predators, the hawks. There's plenty of game to go around for everybody - hawks and human hunters alike. Most importanty, game bird abundance is not totally controlled by predators. Game bird abundance is a factor of habitat quality and abundance. If you want more game birds, join a conservation organization and support it all you can. These groups are putting wildlife habitat in the ground.
As for game farms losing birds, I sympathize with their loss. But they must accept that this is the cost of doing business. I certainly don't think they should be allowed to shoot raptors - just ask the guy who recently was caught doing so and the severe punishment he received from our ever vigilant authorities.
Sincerely, Mark Herwig, White Bear Lake, Minnesota

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