The View from Here


Some Paranoid Thoughts on Ivory-Bill Conservation
February 21, 2010, 10:51 am
Filed under: Ivory-Billed Woopeckers

On our last trip to Bruce Creek, I talked to a few locals about Ivory-Bills. To a man, none of them want the Ivory-Bill to be discovered in their area. They don’t have anything against Ivory-Bills, and most of the people I talked to claim to have seen the bird in the area at some point in their life. Here is their problem: “If they find that bird here, they’ll turn this place into a national park and kick us out!” I don’t think their fear is totally unfounded. Like most conservation minded people, I’d like to see the Ivory-Bill recover, but it will likely require huge tracts of land where they can remain undisturbed. This would likely mean removing the hunters and their ATV’s. While I don’t have any particular fondness for these activities (ATV’s are particularly annoying and destructive), the locals have been using these lands for generations, and their rights to continue these uses should be respected. After all, the bird has managed to survive there despite the presence of hunters. The larger danger to the birds, and one that could very well be affecting them now, is disgruntled locals shooting Ivory-Bills to keep them from being discovered. I have no doubt that this has already happened.

Like any conservation project, the local people need to be included in the management plan for it to be a real success. I think it would be possible to include hunting as part of the plan with some education about Ivory-Bills. If the Ivory-Bill became a symbol of the preservation of these lands for the continued use of the locals, they would be behind it 100% instead of trying to kill off whatever they feel threatens their hunting lands.

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4 Comments so far
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Yes, I think more carrots and less sticks is an appropriate solution for locals regarding any rare species. We’ve been raised with a philosophy of defending our lands by whatever means is necessary, so why not use this philosophy to aid endangered species…make it financially advantageous to landholders to guard the diversity on their land through larger tax breaks. First educate them as to what they have (something not currently done very well), and second make them realize that endangered species are a blessing, not a curse…
replace shoot, shovel, and shut up with discover, deduce, and deduct. Make it worth the effort, like a poor man’s carbon credits.
(win-win ecology)

Comment by lashinala

Sad to say, but “Shoot, shovel, and shut up” seems to be the prevailing paranoid perspective in much of rural America.

Comment by Alton Higgins

“Some Paranoid Thoughts on Ivory-Bill Conservation.” Paranoid, my ass. Whoever brought that viewpoint to the forefront has healthy, objective horse sense. And that is exactly how I see Bubba’s viewpoint: “Dead is better than live if my freedom is at stake.” How patriotic can you get?

Sad to say, bird watching seldom has anything to do about birds. Bird watching for the most part is about bird-watchers and their hierarchy of publicity seekers. Therefore, it is the bird watchers and scientists that have to learn to control their emotions about the Ivorybill and shut up about it. But they can’t because they view the Ivorybill as their lotto ticket to a name to fame. All that Bubba should have been told is “We are here studying Wood Ducks and Barred Owls.”

Some body is going to have to start chipping away at the Ivorybill’s status as an icon to be venerated and as an object of pilgrimage. It is a woodpecker–that’s all.

A poster should be drawn showing an Ivory through cross hairs or just above the button of a shotgun barrel. The caption on the poster should read, “If You Really Care, Shut Up About This Bird”. Then post the poster on various birder websites.

Al

Comment by Al

I don’t think you are paranoid in that I believe you are accurately representing at least part of the local sentiment. I do believe the locals are paranoid, however.

I’m not aware of significant closure of hunting access on public lands anywhere in the U.S. simply because of the presence of an endangered species. There is still hunting going on in the range of the spotted owl, and more to the point, Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge in southern Arkansas has endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers and there is still hunting, motorized access, etc.

Has anyone in a position of authority with this kind of thing actually told you that hunting and motorized access will likely have to be curtailed? If not, it is not helping at all to be claiming this as a likelihood when you do not know that to be the case. I see little precedence for that being necessary, but perhaps their are circumstances here that I’m not aware of.

If there is no plan to actually shut down hunting, then the best thing to do would be to contact refuge management and let them know what you encountered in talking with locals. It sounds like they need to step up their outreach programs.

Comment by Carl




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