why corvids?

Mya Bell myabell at 4-sightmedia.com
Wed Jun 30 23:15:13 PDT 2004

Judy Stone-Roth wrote:

>  This is not a attempt to start a hunting thread, but rather a query. 
> Could someone from F&WL please explain the planned open hunting season 
> on crows in Washington State. This starts in Oct, 04. will remain open 
> through out the following year, and states 'no limit'.

I was stunned to hear that there will be open season on crows. I almost 
thought it was a bad joke. No joke, apparently.

Crow Society
Crows are intelligent birds. They contribute to the social order of 
birds in many important ways. They maintain territory by chasing away 
many larger birds, including ravens and raptors. With crows gone, these 
other birds intrude on the available territory and harass and predate 
smaller birds. Many bird hierarchies are determined by size. As a 
medium-sized bird, crows have a special niche in this delicate balance.

Crows, like robins, are watchdogs. They warn of dangers and many other 
birds and even some animals (deer, for example) are alerted by their calls.

When you kill a crow, you aren't just killing one bird. There's a big 
chance, you are destroying a crow family, since the crow's mate is 
affected by the loss in many ways. You are killing the young crows who 
haven't made it through the winter yet because knowledge is passed on 
about winter food sources, caches, potential predators, etc. I've seen 
Steller's jays (which are also corvids), learn from their family group 
for months after they are technically on their own. I'm sure crow 
society is similar.

Hunting Crows
Not all hunters are birders. I know hunters who can't tell a blackbird 
from a raven. I know MANY people who can't tell a crow from a raven. 
Give hunters the go-ahead to shoot crows and some of them will make 
mistakes. The Web is full of stories about hunters who have mistaken 
cows, people, dogs, and other mammals for deer and accidentally shot 
them. The difference between a blackbird and a crow is far less than the 
different between a deer and a dog (or a human).

West Nile will be here soon. It has the potential to devastate the crow 
population, so why shoot the birds first? When West Nile kills birds, it 
kills the weak ones, leaving the rest to breed stronger offspring with 
some West Nile resistance. That is nature's way--there's a balance to 
it. Hunters do not shoot the weak animals. Some shoot the trophy birds, 
some shoot for pure sport. The crows are not being shot for food.

Hunters are not going to cull the birds that might be more susceptible 
to West Nile because they can't. There's no way to gauge it. They are 
going to cull the ones that are easiest to see and easiest to shoot. 
This doesn't strengthen the collective health of the crow population.

If hunters start shooting crows, they will make noise. They will 
frighten birds, small animals, and possibly people. They will sometimes 
miss and hit something else. They will sometimes misidentify a bird and 
perhaps kill a fragile or protected species.

What are hunters going to use to kill these birds? Bird shot? Lead shot? 
If a large bird like a swan swallows just one or two lead pellets that 
have lodged themselves in a mud bank or pond, the swan will be dead in 
21 days. A bird gizzard grinds the pellet and thus it enters the 
bloodstream more easily.

I know some of the states and Canada have been taking steps to ban lead 
shot, but I'm not sure what the situation is here in Washington State. 
If hunters legally (or illegally) use lead shot and the shot misses the 
mark and enters habitat, it becomes a hazard to other birds, animals, 
and people.

The shooting of crows is incomprehensible to me. I don't understand the 
rationale behind this decision.

north of Bothell, WA
mailto:myabell at 4-sightmedia.com

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