Birds of prey protected

When in doubt, don’t shoot.

A California man is facing more than 60 years in prison and $640,000 in fines for allegedly killing more than 126 birds of prey near a Reno nature preserve.

According to USA Today, “Wildlife officials say it’s likely the single biggest instance of raptor poaching in California history.”

“Poaching crimes of this egregious nature against raptors is unprecedented in California,” said David Bess, California Department of Fish and Wildlife deputy director. “The local raptor population may take years to recover from these killings.”

Clermont County Park District naturalists recently attended a conference on predators – including raptors – and were stunned by the news.

“I think it is important to remind the community that killing raptors is illegal,” said Lead Naturalist Jana Marshall. “That is one of the main reasons for Nest Fest – to educate our community on the importance of these raptors and our migratory bird population, as well as the role they play in our environment.”

Marshall said there have been some problems locally with black vultures, but urged restraint in trying to remove them.

“Vultures are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. They have plenty of carrion to eat and help keep the spread of diseases in control. Although black vultures have been known to take down dying animals or newborn calves, there are responsible methods of removal people can enact on their property to prevent an attack.”

She suggested visiting the Ohio Department of Wildlife here for tips.

“Vultures may not be the best looking birds, but we wouldn’t be better off without them,” Marshall said. “For example, India drugs its livestock, which has killed their vultures. Now wild dogs have taken over and are spreading rabies, which has caused more than 50,000 human deaths.”

Clermont County Park District naturalists are committed to educating the community on a wide range of subjects for all age groups. Please call Marshall at 513-240-2615 or write jmarshall@clermontcountyohio.gov to learn more about available offerings.