Utah is going to war against Crows unless we take action.
Look briefly at the two images above and try to quickly identify the species. Is one of them a raven or a crow? In Utah it could soon mean the difference between a species protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) being shot and killed. I’m a bird photographer who is in the field several times a week and I am familiar with identifying birds in the field but even I have difficulty at times telling ravens from crows and crows from ravens.
If the proposed crow hunt isn’t stopped Common Ravens; fully protected under the MBTA, will almost certainly be killed this coming September because of mistaken identity. Because of the color of their feathers. Because Blair Stringham, migratory game bird coordinator for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) seems to believe there aren’t already enough birds to shoot in Utah.
From the Salt Lake Tribune: Utah wildlife officials: Want to shoot (and eat) crow?
“Most other Western states have a crow season. We are making this proposal to create a new opportunity for Utah hunters and to help control a growing population,” said Blair Stringham, migratory game bird coordinator for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR).
There might be recipes on the internet for cooking and eating crow but I have never met one single person who has said they have “eaten crow” unless it was because they used that phrase in the most expected manner which is to state that they have been wrong.
Let’s address “most western states have a crow season”. So what if other states have crow seasons? That doesn’t mean that Utah should have a crow hunt.
Or “to help control a growing population”? I travel to many areas in Utah for my photography and do not see that many American Crows with the exception of winter when crows form large roosts in some locations. So have officials gone out counting crows? If so, I haven’t seen those official numbers so how do we know that the crow population is growing?
“We would put out a lot of information about the differences,” Stringham said. “They are similar, but with a little education it is relatively easy to tell the two apart.”
Relatively easy? Not really Mr. Stringham. Especially in the field when hunters might only have a few seconds to decide: Which is it, a crow or a raven? The ravens could easily be killed by mistaken identification.
So how does Mr. Stringham address the illegal killing of a bird protected by the MBTA?
Stringham said under the proposal, people caught shooting ravens would likely get a ticket.
A ticket? That is all? For birds protected under federal law?
Wildlife officials say that American Crows depredate crops and the hunt may help curtail agricultural losses.
I would love to see the reports that show how much of those crop losses are actually caused by crows. Just crows.
I’m a bird photographer and include myself in the numbers of wildlife watchers in the U.S. How many wildlife watchers are there in the U.S? Well, according to a 2011 survey by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service counted 71.1 million wildlife watchers in the U.S. who spend $55 billion dollars each year in the pursuit of wildlife activities.
In a great state like Utah that benefits greatly from money that the tourists who come here to visit our States and National Parks, the three terrific National Wildlife Refuges, the numerous Waterfowl and Wildlife management Areas and other local parks to view and photograph wildlife and spend their money which in turn supports individuals and small businesses not to mentions hotels, airlines, the food industry and how Utah benefits from the tax dollars generated by the tourist activity.
Does it really make sense financially to repulse those same tourists by the unnecessary killing of a bird species? Repulse? You bet. Will out of state bird and wildlife photographers stay away because they feel strongly against this hunt? Yes, some will. Will wildlife watchers stay away because they are repulsed? Some will. And who loses if they do? It really doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the loss of income from tourism can affect more than just the local economy.
I am emailed quite often by out of state photographers asking when the best time is to come and photograph birds and other wildlife in Utah and if this hunt goes through I will tell those people, who will bring their money to spend in Utah, to avoid coming during the crow hunting season and spend their money in some other state. And that word will spread.
Did the Utah Wildlife Board consider tourist dollars when they decided there should be a crow hunt in Utah? Or will they be the ones “eating crow” because their decision will eventually hurt the state and the people who live here from the loss of revenue?
This morning I sent an email to Ms. Staci Coons requesting a Public Hearing regarding Proposed Rule Changes to R657-3 and R657-6 to voice my opposition about Utah’s Crow Hunt.
July 10, 2014
Dear Ms. Staci Coons,
This letter is a formal request by the undersigned interested person, a citizen of Salt Lake County, State of Utah in accordance with the requirements of Utah Code Ann. 63G-3-302 and Utah Administrative Code Rule R15-1.
I request a public hearing to provide comment on two rules changes proposed by the Utah Division of Wildlife Services published in the Utah State Bulletin 2014-14 on July 1, 2014, namely:
R657-3 setting criteria for lethal removal of American Crows (Bulletin, p. 101), and
R657-6 adding American Crow as a Migratory game bird and Upland game bird (Bulletin, p. 103).
I would very much appreciate a notification of the date, time, and place of the hearing, when determined, so that I can attend and comment.
I want my voice to be heard and I want to stop this crow hunt.
Utah residents who feel this crow hunt should be stopped please feel free to email Staci Coons (firstname.lastname@example.org) to request a hearing. You can copy and paste from above and change whatever needs to be changed (name, address, etc.) Please note, these requests must be sent no later than July 15th.
Out of state viewers who want to let the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources know how you feel about the Utah Crow Hunt why not contact them and let them know how you feel about this unethical hunt at DWRcomment@utah.gov. Let them know you will spend your money elsewhere.
We don’t’ need this crow hunt in Utah. It is unethical, unnecessary and can tarnish the reputation of Utah.
By the way, in the images above the first bird is a crow and the second one is a raven.
If you aren’t going to eat it, why kill it?