Thursday, December 28, 2006

Raptor Dichotomy.....

Early last Sunday morning we were driving up Rt. 50 heading toward Paris, VA. Chuck drew our attention to a large bird flying toward us. At first we think "hawk", then we think "vulture", but then as the large bird flies close over the car we all look up and see that this is a Golden Eagle. I turn and look behind us and watch the eagle fly a circle and then land in a tree at the edge of the field. We are amazed and delighted. With the Shenandoah River fairly close by (especially if you are an eagle) this does not seem out of place. What a beautiful bird. The excitement stays fresh with us for many miles.
When we get home from our trip, I find an article in the Washington Post which tells us of the Bush Administration's decision to remove the Bald Eagle from the endangered species list. This is to occur on February 16, 2007. The deputy director of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service attempts to assure us that this will NOT mean "open season" on the eagle. Here is the most outrageous thing: this decision has been brought about by the persistence of a 69 year old man in Minnesota. He is a Libertarian "property owner" who is miffed that he cannot subdivide and sell some pieces of his land as he wishes because there is a bald eagle nest on one area of his land. There is a rule that stands now where no building can occur within 330 feet of an eagle nest. He filed a federal lawsuit in 2005 which he won this past August. Even though the bald eagle population is estimated to be 7,000 nesting pairs at this time (up from 417 pairs in 1963, thanks to the pesticide DDT) , I still find this decision outrageous.

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