Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Feds ditch bird poisoning plan; public input sought on plover protection

Feds ditch bird poisoning plan; public input sought on plover protection - Grant Scott-Goforth/The Times-Standard

After public outcry, a proposal to protect threatened snowy plovers on Clam Beach by poisoning egg-gobbling predators was withdrawn Tuesday by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

”That didn't seem to fly -- no pun intended -- with the public,” Fish and Wildlife Field Supervisor Nancy Finley said of the plan to use an avicide called DRC-1339 to kill corvids -- crows and ravens -- that preyed on plover eggs.

Humboldt County's Clam Beach has one of the most aggressive predation rates by corvids, according to a Fish and Wildlife press release. In the last 11 years, more than 70 percent of snowy plover eggs on the north coast have been lost due to corvid predation.

A series of methods put forward at the last meeting included discouraging preying behavior, trapping corvids, and more comprehensive approaches like reducing trash that attracts corvids to the beach: “things to reduce the corvid population on a more holistic scale,” Finley said.

She said the goal of Fish and Wildlife is managing snowy plover protection with realistic methods. Labor intensive options could be made possible with community volunteers.

”That's something I'd like to gauge as well,” Finley said.

Third District Supervisor Mark Lovelace expressed appreciation at the community meetings that led Fish and Wildlife to drop its proposal.

”I'm really glad the Fish and Wildlife Service has gone out to get some outreach in the community,” he said. “There's widespread agreement that something needs to be done... but perhaps they need to be involving the community in exploring a wider range of options.”

Arcata resident Uri Driscoll said exploring other options is a step in the right direction.

”I'm more in favor of something that would work that's not lethal,” he said. “Hopefully we can come up something that shows some benefits.”

Driscoll said collaboration with the public, county officials and Fish and Wildlife could repair 12 years of work that haven't yielded satisfactory results.

”I think we'll end up with something innovative,” he said.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will hold two public information meetings on a snowy plover protection plan for Clam Beach.

Nov. 29: Humboldt County Agriculture Center, 5630 South Broadway, Eureka, from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 12: McKinleyville Community Services District, Azalea Hall, 1620 Pickett Road, at 7 p.m.

Grant Scott-Goforth can be reached at 441-0514 or

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