[Tweeters] Surf Scoter Considered a "Game Bird"??

Kelly McAllister mcallisters4 at comcast.net
Sat Feb 24 19:31:01 PST 2007

All of the Anatidae are game birds in Washington. This, however, does not preclude listing under the federal Endangered Species Act. If the species was found to warrant listing, it could be listed. Not much is being listed of late. It's been my impression that a "Evolutionarily Significant Unit" like a subspecies of distinct population segment has to be very much on the brink of extinction before it's likely to be listed. The interpretation of what warrants listing, that is, the imminency of extinction, seems to have gotten tighter and tighter. The timeframe in which surf scoters may face certain extinction may not be imminent enough to warrent listing under today's standards. That's my impression of federal listing as practiced in this century.

Kelly McAllister
Olympia, Washington

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Jeff Kozma 
  To: Tweeters 
  Sent: Saturday, February 24, 2007 7:09 PM
  Subject: Re: [Tweeters] Surf Scoter Considered a "Game Bird"??

  As to why Surf Scoter wouldn't be included under the ESA because it is a gamebird, I can't answer that.  It must be a misinterpretation somewhere, because I thought all species, regardless of huntable status, are covered under the ESA.  But again, I am not sure on this, but it doesn't make sense to not include game animals.  I will have to do some checking on that.  

  Secondly, all scoter species and even eiders are hunted.  Much of this, particularly on the eastern seaboard, are steeped in deep tradition.  In addition, these species are often seasonal staples in the diets of many native american tribes.  With proper handling of the meat (such as marinating in buttermilk to pull the blood out) and proper preparation, they become palatable.  Waterfowl populations (and other huntable birds such as quail, pheasants, etc.) allow for compensatory mortality.  In other words, hunting mortality is compensated for by an increase in survival of the animals remaining after the hunting season by the density-dependent decrease in mortality because of fewer animals in the population.  Another way to put it, if the birds weren't harvested, they would die by other causes (predation, starvation, poison, etc, etc).  

  However, new work being done and looking at seaducks in particular, shows that the seaduck's (scoter, eiders, long-tailed ducks, etc) unique life history promotes a lower threshold mortality rate. Sustainable harvest rates for seaducks are much lower than for other waterfowl.  Declines indicate that this lower threshold point is being reached so these species have less capacity to compensate for any additional form of mortality such as hunting (mortality becomes additive instead of compensatory).

  There is more information on the plight of seaducks, from this website http://seaducks.org/compensatoryadditive.htm where I got some of the above information.  

  Jeff Kozma

  j kozma at charter dot net



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