Friday, January 07, 2005

Shrikes! Farmers & Naturalists at Loggerheads

The spin put on the fate of the eastern loggerhead shrike in the Globe & Mail (Dec. 17, 97) begs a response. This is a bird that eats native songbirds, devours insects nourished by crops and cattle -the latter of which stave off starvation of fields of naturalists. It is alleged the key to its survival is a law preventing cultivation around nesting sites of the not-so-adaptable predator.
His sources assure the G & M columnist the bird's decline was due to road-kill and alleged 65 to 85 percent conversion of grazed pastures to row-crop. Well, in granddad's day, best management practices dictated rotation of pastures with forage and grain crops.
The solutions are those parotted by urban naturalists who would use the metropolitan press to con parliamentarians into rushing ahead with disastrous USA type habitat protection. There was no admission the advance of post-war housing and feline infestation were factors. Nor was it acknowledged farmers had to adapt to feed millions more urbanites and pets than they had to in 1947. No caution was expressed that without a sensible sunset clause, ever-increasing acreage would be taken out of food production if release of breeding pairs by cavorting naturalists show results.
This is just another story of the powerful urban majority lobbying for laws they are not affected by, while the "rural minority" has to bare the burden of the negative impacts of the law. Regardless, the habitat recovery team asks farmers to partnership with them. Well, soon naturalists will see their country cohorts moving down their streets on a dark winter's afternoon. Set the field glasses aside and invite your fellow birder in for a hot cider; it can get pretty cold and lonely spreading the fruit of the thistle and thorn across gardens and front lawns.
Ontario Farmer Magazine in winter of 98

Sequel: where it's at 10 years later:


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