Friday, March 25, 2016

WAR ON MOTHER NATURE: Human Devolution And Vampirism - 23 Bald Eagles Have Been Killed By Americans So Far This Year; And Japanese "Scientific" Expedition Kills 333 Whales, Including 200 Pregnant Females?!

This eagle was one of five found dead or dying in Delaware this month, after apparently being poisoned. © Delaware Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
March 25, 2016 - EARTH - Here are two stunning cases of mankind's relentless war on Mother Nature: Americans have killed at least 23 bald eagles since the start of this year and Japan's latest 'scientific' whaling expedition has ended with more than 300 animals slaughtered.

23 bald eagles killed by Americans so far this year

I discovered that stunning number while working on a story about the dietary habits of eagles in coastal Alabama. (They like turtles! Watch for the story next week.) Doing some research online, stories about dead eagles just kept popping up.

Someone shot one in Kentucky around New Year's Day. Two more were shot with a high-powered rifle along the shores of a lake in Idaho. Another was killed in Missouri, again with a rifle. And someone killed one early this month near Rome, Georgia.

Then comes the most distressing story. Thirteen eagles have been found dead or dying in Maryland within the last month. Authorities are still unsure what sort of poison was used to kill them, but they have ruled out natural causes. Meanwhile, five more eagles were found dead in Delaware in March.

In 17 years of covering the environment, I can recall a single story about a teen who shot an eagle with a new gun he got for Christmas back in 2008. I remember the photos of the bird, its white feathers soaked in red blood. The kid shot it just to try out his new gun. The whole episode was so depressing.

But 23 eagles in less than three months! That is a lot of dead birds, and puts 2016 on pace to have more eagle killings than any year in decades.

These stories of dead eagles are particularly troubling for anyone who lived through the 1950s, 60s, or 70s, when eagles were so rare that few Americans had ever seen one. At one point, there were fewer than 500 pairs of eagles in the entire country, mostly in remote areas. I was 20 years old before I laid eyes on a bald eagle, and that was in Canada. I didn't see a bald eagle in Alabama until the year 2,000.

Like many birds, eagles were pushed to the brink of extinction by a combination of hunting, habitat loss and DDt, a pesticide that caused the thinning of egg shells, particularly of fish-eating birds, such as eagles, or pelicans. Their recovery since DDt was banned has been dramatic.

The most recent national survey suggests there are at least 10,000 breeding pairs of eagles in the nation. More than 100 of those pairs are here in Alabama. I know of five nests within 10 miles of my home, scattered around Mobile Bay, Weeks Bay and in the coastal rivers. North Alabama is home to many more eagles. I saw three eagles on Monday in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta, parents with their young eaglet, who was nearly as large as mom and dad but still couldn't fly.

For anyone who has seen a bald eagle soaring overhead, or crashing down on a fish, it is hard to understand the reasoning behind shooting one. Or poisoning more than a dozen. For those dead birds found around Chesapeake Bay, I suppose someone poisoned them because they had become a nuisance. Perhaps eating catfish out of a farm pond, or stealing chickens from one of the giant commercial chicken farms in Maryland.

Maybe the message to take from all the killings isn't that there are a lot of crummy people out there. Maybe the better message is that there are so many eagles flying around today that they can be sometimes considered a nuisance. Consider this: When I was born in 1970, there were perhaps 500 pairs in the nation. Today, there are about 1,300 pairs in Florida and Alabama alone.

That's a pretty remarkable recovery. Give some credit to the Endangered Species Act, and some to the ban on DDt. But most of the credit goes to the fact that most of us - whether we are hunters, farmers, birders, nature buffs or people who rarely walk on anything but a city street -- are simply awestruck when we see on of these giant, gorgeous birds soaring through the air.

And the last thing we can imagine doing is killing one. - AL.

Japanese 'scientific' expedition kills 333 whales, including 200 pregnant females

Crew of a whaling ship check a whaling gun or harpoon before departure at Ayukawa port
in Ishinomaki City on April 26, 2014. 
© Getty Images

In total, 333 minke whales - including 200 pregnant females - were killed, Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research confirmed.

Despite international criticism of the country's whaling activities, Japan sent four ships to the Antarctic region for 115 days on December 1.

In 2014, the UN ruled that the activity in the Southern Ocean, south east of Australia and New Zealand, was a front for commercial hunts.

But the practice has resumed, with Mr Kindleysides urging the Australian government to take action.

Darren Kindleysides, director of the Australian Marine Conservation Society, said the 2014/15 summer was the first time in 70 years Japan stopped its whaling activities.

He said: 'That puts the onus on the Australian government to make sure this is the first and the last season of Japan's new so-called scientific program.'

In December, the Australian government said Japan's decision to continue whaling was 'deeply disappointing'.

But conservation group Sea Shepherd said the Japanese fleet had faced little or no scrutiny over the summer and Australia and New Zealand seemed unwilling to send a ship to intercept them.

Sea Shepherd Australia's managing director Jeff Hansen said: 'Once again false promises from the Australian and New Zealand governments have resulted in whales being killed illegally in the Australian Whale Sanctuary.

'The majority of Australians wanted the Australian government to send a vessel to oppose the slaughter. They did not.'

Australian Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson accused the government of doing little to prevent the 'sickening' illegal activity.

'Not in 40 years has an Australian government done so little to prevent whaling on our watch and in our waters,' he said.

Japan claims it is trying to prove the whale population is large enough to sustain a return to commercial hunting. - Metro.


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