Animal advocates are rallying to stop wildlife officials in Idaho from moving forward with a ridiculous plan to senselessly poison thousands of ravens in a questionable effort to protect sage grouse.
Earlier this month the state announced a plan to spend up to $100,000 to kill as many as 4,000 ravens over the next two years in three separate areas because ravens are preying on sage grouse eggs and chicks. The permit will allow Wildlife Services to inject chicken eggs with poison – DRC-1339 – one of the tools the agency uses to obliterate wildlife. The poison is only supposed to kill corvids, but some argue that it poses a risk to other birds. Whether it does or not, continuing to “manage” wildlife with poison is not an acceptable solution in any situation.
To add insult to injury, state officials admit this might not actually even do anything to help sage grouse.
“We can’t directly say that (sage grouse population decline) is from ravens, because we don’t have that information,” said Ann Moser, wildlife biologist for the state Department of Fish and Game. “There’s anecdotal information.”
Sage grouse are unquestionably in trouble. Their population is believed to be have declined more than 90 percent overall, and they’re waiting for protection under the Endangered Species Act, but the state meanwhile seems to be ignoring dozens of other serious factors that have, and continue, to contribute to their decline.
Their disappearance is an indicator of an unhealthy ecosystem that’s due largely to human activity and poor land management. In the list of concerns in environmental assessments, predation comes in somewhere at the bottom of the list and conservationists argue that even if ravens are removed, either other ravens or other species will come in to take their place making the effort moot.
Their top threat is losing sagebrush habitat, which is critical to their survival. Not only does it provide shelter and a critical food source in the winter, but it gives females a place to hide their eggs and young in the spring.
According to Katie Fite, biodiversity director for the Western Watersheds Project, ravens are a sign that sagebrush habitat is indeed in trouble.
Unfortunately, sagebrush habitat has continued to dwindle as a result of human activity, as it and sage grouse continue to be threatened by a host of things from energy exploration and pesticides to agriculture and unnatural fires. Sage grouse habitat is also being fragmented by roads and fences while livestock grazing continues to erode the landscape.
It’s probably also really important to mention that hunting sage grouse is allowed in Idaho. Yes, the state is perfectly willing to partner up with Wildlife Services to take out ravens in an attempt to save a species that it’s happy to let hunters kill.
Wasting taxpayer money to needlessly poison incredibly intelligent, social and protected birds instead of dealing with the real issues that are hurting sage grouse is insanity. Thankfully, ravens are getting some serious support. More than 33,000 people have already signed the Care2 petition asking the state not to kill them.
Please sign and share the petition asking Idaho to abandon this cruel and senseless plan to needlessly poison ravens and focus on better land management to protect sage grouse habitat.
Photo credit: Thinkstock
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