Help Stop the Utah Crow Hunt

Crow

Common Raven

Utah is going to war against Crows unless we take action.

Stop the Utah Crow Hunt

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.
Thank you.

Sincerely,

Mia McPherson


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 (stacicoons@utah.gov) 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?

Mia

 

https://americanwildbirds.wordpress.com/2014/06/07/brief-update-the-utah-wildlife-board-has-approved-the-crow-hunt/

https://americanwildbirds.wordpress.com/2014/05/14/utah-crows-need-your-help/

http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/58033587-78/crows-utah-hunt-wildlife.html.csp

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35 comments to Help Stop the Utah Crow Hunt

  • Mia, I was so happy to look at your extraordinarily beautiful photos of the crows — and also to read your very articulate words about the crow hunt.

    Thank you for all that you, and all your followers, are doing to support the crows, ravens, and other birds that are under threat.

    I have called Wayne Waley and am looking forward to interviewing him next week.

    Your beautiful photos give the crows a way to speak for themselves.

    Many thanks!

  • As others have commented here, I object to the crow hunt on all grounds. Like ravens, crows are protected by the MBTA, exempted unfortunately during crow seasons like the ones we have here in Washington and in California. It’s unfathomable to think of Utah adding crows to the list of game birds in a time when we should actually be making our wildlife laws more humane and progressive, in keeping with current science about animal sentience and intelligence, in particular studies with crows and ravens. I’ve long felt that crow seasons in all states should be eliminated, not expanded.

    Just to the north of us in British Columbia, there is a raven-hunting season as well. I’ve personally seen what people do to corvids, some of it far too painful and graphic to describe here. And, I won’t link out to any of the crow-hunting sites and pages, but I’m sure many of you have seen the photos where hunters form numbers out of the huge piles of crow bodies they’ve accumulated, to show off their spoils. Any critical comments on these websites are met with the same type of ignorant invective you’ll get if you try to challenge wolf hunters on their practices.

    The point being … these, sadly, are the human beings to whom our wildlife departments entrust the welfare of wildlife — the wild animals in OUR public trust. As Mia says, we non-hunters are the clear majority users of public land and a growing demographic in terms of wildlife recreation, non-violent, I might add. We deserve to have our voices proportionately heard, something that is not happening under the current system.

    Crow hunting is target practice. You need only delve a bit into the world of crow hunters to see the unsavory underbelly. There are obviously depredation permits given in agricultural areas for crop damage, a practice I have difficulty with in terms of what I’ve learned, volunteering with corvids. But still, at least a permitted exemption is one safeguard between these birds and the rampant killing that ensues from legalized seasons.

    Lastly, the ID issue is huge. There was a recent thread on the Ducks Unlimited Facebook page, asking hunters to identify the ducks flying in on a featured video. The degree of misidentification was disheartening to say the least. It’s not surprising to me, I’ve seen this in play in the field. But it should be required understanding for anyone who believes that most hunters can easily make these types of distinctions. There’s no training requirement prior to receiving a hunting license, in fact, the requirements are quite slim or nonexistence (depending on the state) when it comes to ethics and species identification. Add to the situation that much hunting is done in low-light and fast-moving conditions … and if the penalty for shooting a raven is barely a penalty, there are those who simply won’t care and will take their chances with the low probability of enforcement.

  • Chris Rohrer

    Mia, I first heard about this awhile back from other birders. A lot of people were not happy about this at all in Arizona. It’s truly a sad thing if they allow this to pass. Like you mention, a crow or raven? From a distance, and sometimes not, they both can look the same. These birds are intelligent creatures. I’ve watched them look at themselves in the mirrors admiring their beauty:) I’ve watched them watch us search for nesting birds. Utah is such a beautiful place. There are a few things culturally about the people I’m not fond of, but I am a huge fan of the wildlife found around the areas. I have to admit, for me, that some of this human stuff does factor into visiting a state and is a deterrent for many others. This is a way to generate money from those who want to shoot and kill something. How many large numbered birds have we reduced to the endangered or extinction list? This reasoning doesn’t give people the right to blow them from the sky/ground. They might find themselves eating crow if they allow this to pass. I know birders and other aficionados do not take kindly to the murder of crows…and ravens. It gets me every time! Whooping Crane vs. Sandhill Crane….similar issues. Trumpeter Swan vs Tundra Swan. It’s a sad day for Utah.

    • Chris Rohrer

      In many ways the political cultures between Arizona and Utah are similar. Even with all the opposition, it seems like they are going to do what they’re going to do without listening to the people. We face the same problem with the Santa Rita mountains and the Rosemont Copper Mine. Even though most of the people are against it, there are several factors in the various environmental groups that signed off on the permits. Money? Politics? Nasty business and quite frustrating for those who would protect our last remaining wild areas and creatures of this country.

  • Jolanta

    I can not understand this. This is simply sick…

  • Utahbooklover

    I attended the May 15 Utah Wildlife Board meeting where a lot of opposition to the crow hunt was expressed, and later the Brigham City district voted it down. However, on June 5 the hunt was passed. In the meeting I heard some farmers complain about crop damage and a rancher complain about the loss of a calf caused by crows pecking out the eyes. Then there is the possible revenue from hunting licenses. And I see one of the board members is Bill Fenimore who said:
    “I’m not only a bird lover, but also a bird hunter, so a crow hunt in itself is not a conflict for me,” Fenimore said. “I want to see what the public wants and how the final proposal comes together before I decide if I will support it or not.”
    So it looks like an uphill battle — but if enough support shows up and some good arguments are presented, we just might reverse the crow hunt in the fall.

    • Wayne H. Whaley

      I was at the June 5 meeting also but I do not remember hearing “some farmers complain about crop damage and a rancher complain about the loss of a calf by crows pecking out the eyes”. Were some ranchers in attendance talking to you personally, but not standing and express this to the board and others present. I would like to hear from you personally on this so please contact me. Also, if a calf was lost in Utah (?) it would probably be due to a Raven.
      Wayne H. Whaley (email: wwhaley@UVU.edu)

    • Utahbooklover, this is an uphill battle.

      I’m curious about the calf too since the reading that I have done about crows or ravens pecking the eyes out of livestock appears to be primarily with young animals who are sickly or weakened any way.

  • From Massachusetts, I thank you Mia and others in Utah for protecting the wildlife of this country.
    I happen to love the crow as much as any bird that might be lost to “collateral damage” in this crow hunt ruling.

    Below are two links about the New Caledonia crow, I’m sure a cousin to our own crows here in the States.
    This is not a bird about whom it would be wise to think of as being expendable.
    (Nor should any creature be thought of in that way.)
    The crow is one smart bird.

    If you have a few minutes, these links might enlighten about the crow:
    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2002/08/0808_020808_crow.html
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Caledonian_crow

    Mary McAvoy

    • Mary, all corvids are very intelligent and it is disturbing that this hunt is being touted as a way to give hunters something to shoot when nothing else is in season.

      Paper targets wouldn’t cause the loss of blood or feathers.

      Thanks for sharing those links.

  • Hiss and spit. Hunting for fun is a dangerous obscenity.

  • I just received notification from Staci Coons, Wildlife Board Coordinator, that a hearing has been scheduled concerning the crow hunt.

    ____________________

    Mia,

    The Wildlife Board will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, July 29 from 10:00 am – 12:00 pm in the Department of Natural Resources Auditorium to take comments concerning the proposed rule changes affecting American crows.

    If you have any questions concerning this public meeting please do not hesitate to contact me.

    Thank you

    Staci Coons
    Wildlife Board Coordinator
    ________________________

    I asked who the board members will be at the hearing and they are as follows: Jake Albrecht, Bill Fenimore, Mike King, John Bair, Calvin Crandall, Steve Dalton and Kirk Woodward.

    • Wayne H. Whaley

      Mia, and others,
      It appears that this hearing may be a sham. The list of Utah government officials to attend this hearing are the same individuals that comprised the Utah Wildlife Board of 5 June and at that meeting they passed the crow hunt resolution. Do we expect anything different! For at least one of those members (his name I don’t remember)made it very clear from the start that he was for the crow hunt. Wayne

      • Hi Wayne,

        I asked Staci Coons which Utah government officials were attend this hearing and listed those above.

        I am now wondering if we need to approach the Utah legislature and demand that they hear us and table this hunt until more information is available on the numbers of resident versus migratory crows, an environmental impact statement and transparency on who it was that filed those alleged complaints about crop depredation.

  • Patty Chadwick

    Red-winged black birds, grackles,starlings,yellow-headed black birds,any black or dark bird, especially crows and ravens…get out of Utah before you’re shot…by some fearless (not afraid of birds) hunter/killer. These guys get their jollies out of killing, spilling blood, just for the pure joy of watching something die, of causing death! They sure as hell aren’t doing it for food! (tourists, skiers, visitors, guests, you just might want to stay out, too)

  • Stu

    This does make one mad. Why do some ‘humans’ feel the need to just kill. If I had my way, I would have a law that allows birders to shoot anyone killing birds , Audubon could license them , provide the guns ;) just to even up the odds. A few dead or injured crow murderers might just put a halt to this slaughtering of life. Make them think its a national organization, wing one guy in the shoulder at one event.. unless you are under threat, people with guns murdering are cowards, so they would all run and hide. ( sorry I went on too much here ;).

    • Stu, I am mad. The state of Utah has never officially counted the crows here, neither the resident crows or the migratory crows that migrate here during the winter.

      Everything they said in those meetings and in news stories is anecdotal and not based in actual science.

  • Patty Chadwick

    Mia–this is a very disturbing post to receive, but thank you for sharing it. Once again, you’re providing a voice for those who are unable to defend themselves…and a conduit for those of us who care to lend our voices, too. I’ve raised several crows and found them creative, intelligent and entertaining. The idea of them beig slaughtered so as to provide extra target material for hunters is cruel and obscene! It makes Utah look like an ignorant, backward state. Crows are smaller and “finer” looking, especially around the beak than ravens, but they can easily be confiused, even by those who are familiar with both birds and know the differences well. Hunters from out of state looking for the “pleasure” of killing one more thing, will just see a big, black bird, shoot it, and identify it (maybe) afterwards. Many ravens will be shot, too. Ravens aren’t found in some states and are rarely seen in others. It’s ignorant and downright stupid to expect all hunters to know the difference…unless both birds are quietly sitting side by side, then maybe…….

    • Patty, I knew this news was going to bother you because I remembered you saying you had raised crows.

      The hearing; as Wayne noted, appears to be a sham because it will be held with the same Utah government officials that were there the day they decided on the crow hunt.

      It isn’t over yet though.

  • Wayne H. Whaley

    Mia,
    This is right on. Has Great Salt Lake Audubon been notified of the possibility of getting a hearing to stop this stupid Crow hunt? Wayne

    • Wayne,

      I know these organizations have been contacted:

      Wild Utah Project
      WildEarth Guardians
      Western Wildlife Conservancy
      Utah Audubon Council
      Coalition for American Wildbirds
      WRCNU
      I’ve tried contacting you by email but they might be getting stuck in a spam filter, should I call you?

      Sharon St Joan of the Coalition for American Wildbirds is also going to contact you.

      Let’s stop the Utah Crow Hunt!

  • I am with you on this subject. Nobody should kill anything, full stop.

  • Deb Potts

    Ravens will definitely take a hit if this goes through…idiots can’t tell the difference between Sandhill Cranes and Whooping Cranes…

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