Bird Dog & Retriever News

June / July 2003 issue Page 40

 Point: Is It Time For A Season For Birds Of Prey?
By Dennis Guldan
The other day Ron and I were running dogs at the new MN field trial grounds and I overheard a woman mention she worked with birds of prey. We got talking about the number of hawks in the area and I asked when we were going to start to reduce the overwhelming numbers by having a season. Well one thing lead to another and it sounded like this was a great basis for a point-counterpoint article. So since I would have no problem arguing either side, being the rabble-rouser I am, and knowing my constitutional rights, I thought it high time I called for a hunting season on birds of prey. We will have the counterpoint next issue if all goes well.
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I have never shot a bird of prey and never intent to. But I can understand why someone might. A owner of a shooting preserve for instance who walks out every morning to look at a dozen hawks sitting on poles waiting to be fed as he watches his investment being robbed from him.
There is no argument 20 years ago our birds of prey were in very poor numbers. Also the US F&W Service should be commended for doing a great job of returning our birds of prey to healthy numbers. But today drive down any road and I'll bet you'll find a hawk on every square mile. Maybe it's just how I view the world, but it seems like we have a lot of birds of prey around.
Is that healthy? To a point, but I believe we have gotten past that point. Yes, I understand it took a long time and money to get our birds to this level. But I have one simple question: How many is enough? With deer we know that and adjust our seasons and bonus permits accordingly. What is the harm in doing the same with our birds of prey? Yes I know about the predator prey cycle but ask a rabbit hunter, a favorite of hawks, and they will tell you rabbit numbers have been down since the 70s.
I'm not saying for $5 you can add a hawk stamp to your small game license and blaze away hundreds of hawks. But explain to me why we expect our shooting preserve owners to feed the hawk population. What is wrong with letting our preserve owners protect their investment? We are not talking about millions of acres. We are not talking about one percent of the U.S. land. We are talking of fractions of percentage of acres set aside for some to do business and protect another species. If the hawk numbers drop we can stop in a day.
Hell we protect acreage for turtles and snake darters, how about pheasants, grouse and rabbits?
I don't expect this point counterpoint will open a season on raptors, but as one of our founding fathers once said when asked about voting for discussing the declaration of independence. "I have yet to see any issue that should be so feared that we can't at least discuss it."
Well I think it is high time that we ask the simple question: "How many birds of prey is enough?" And what happens when we get too many, and don't tell me mother nature will balance things out, because sometimes mother nature can be a witch and things can take decades to balance out, and I like hunting pheasant and grouse too much to let that happen.
Tune in for the counterpoint, next issue...

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Copyrights Bird Dog & Retriever News May 2003
Do not reproduce or retransmit in any form, and we surf the web, we'll find you.
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