Indian Vultures

I wrote soberly on the Indian Vulture crisis years ago in the Atlantic.

They continued to decline; nobody gives a damn about serious whiny articles.

Today, my friend Jemima “Mima” Parry Jones, daughter of the grand old falconer Philip Glasier, sent me this YouTube piece of pro- vulture propaganda, and I am envious- it will likely be a lot more effective.

Mima is unusual- I am reminded of the remark, which sounds like one of Osxar Wilde’s epigrams, that in friendship , it is best to begin with a little aversion…

We were staying at Jonathan Kingdon’s near Oxford when  he decided we MUST se Mima’s original  Bird of Prey Center on the west coast of England (on a day trip- I will never get over the scale of England). I was a little dubious – I had heard she did not approve of some things I had written– but the chance to see all those birds was irresistible.

We  had fun exploring the park- it is where  I first encountered the African Crowned eagle I mentioned below. We also played with an Andean Condor who seemed fascinated with Jonathan’s car keys.

But finaly the time came to meet the proprietor. Jonathan ushered me into the office where she sat behind her desk and began “This is Stephen Bodio. He wrote..”

She interrupted him : I KNOW what he fucking wrote. He’s the cunt who write ‘The English have nothing to teach us but history!’ “

She glared at me  for a moment longer, as though to be sure I had heard her properly; then stood to shake my hand with a  dazzling smile. “Glad to meet you! Let’s go and see my birds.”

I don’t think she ever uttered a critical word in my direction again, but I am not sure Jonathan ever got over his shock..

 As for Mima, perhaps the last word should go to Merliner Emeritus, naturalist, poet, and former schoolmaster John Loft. In  his local pub, over good peaty Scotch whisky and steak and kidney pie, on a foggy unseasonably cold  May night, I told him this story. He shook his head and said: “Stephen, if you think SHE has a mouth that could take your hide off, you should have known her father.”

Mima, the Duke, and her father many years ago

John Loftt with falcon topiary in his garden; hawking with Tim Galllagher.

New Dutch

Dutch Salmon has a new collection of outdoor tales: Country Sports II: More Rabid Pursuits of a Redneck Environmentalist.  (Available from High Lonesome Books, PO Box 878, Silver City NM 88062).  I think it is his best and most varied yet. I don’t think I can “review” it any better than to use my introduction, which I volunteered- for free, for the record.

Public Lands- More Perspective on Don T

Ron Moody, a neighbor of Don’s in Lewistown, has written on the subject of Public Lands and their loss before, notably in this article from  the Bull Moose Gazette he sent me last week:

“So is this dispute an isolated event? Or do other NGOs (non-government
organizations) self-censor or suppress support for public access to obtain
backing of wealthy donors who want more wildlife but also want exclusive private access
to it?   My observation is that such suppression is widespread, even
endemic, to the DU-type fundraising model employed by many habitat conservation groups.
 

“Thirteen years ago I wrote on this very subject in my old NIMROD’S TRACE
column once published in the Montana Wildlife Newspaper of the Montana Wildlife
Federation.  That column was about the challenges for hunters in the 21st
Century as predictable at the end of the 20th Century.

“Judge for yourself whether the 20th Century has inflicted hard challenges on
conservationists of the 21st Century.”

RTWT!  As  Randy Newberg, interviewing Don on a Hunt Talk Radio podcast last week said, (Don agreed): both parties are out of touch with sportsmen, the majority of whom want to keep their guns AND their Public lands; only the very rich don’t care. (HT Lucas  Machias for the podcast).

Undue Influence

E Donnall Thomas is an old friend who has written many good books, and had many adventures. In our neck of the woods he is best known as the guy who convinced David Quammen that at least some hunting of mountain lions was OK after David editorialized against the practice, by taking him out with his longbow (made by him) and his hound (trained by him), and later serving him stir fried lion with ginger and chile, cooked by him. David wrote his recantation as “Crossing Lines in Lion Country” in Outside, and later reprinted it as “Eat of This Flesh” in the collection Wild Thoughts from Wild Places.

Don is also a  MD and flies small planes, in fact was a flying doc in Alaska, so you may infer that he does not scare easily. (He also shoots bears with longbows). Which makes it all the dumber when a millionaire who was illegally trying to block public access on Montana streams, used his clout to get Don kicked off a twenty- year gig writing for Ducks Unlimited, because Don wrote a piece in a Bozeman publication decrying his efforts.

There is a lot of hypocritical crap going around, some of which I have seen. Some DU officials say he wasn’t fired because he never “worked” for DU. Right– as Tom McIntyre said, quoting Dorothy Parker, “… and I am Marie of Roumania.” Others claim no company would ever keep on someone who “insulted” an advertiser. I cry bullshit on that; first, he “insulted” no one, only told the truth in an unrelated publication. But B (a BIG “B”) I know for a fact that when once I  drew the ire of a large advertiser at Gray’s Sporting Journal, many long years ago, Ed stood with me, and lost a not inconsiderable sum of money. Not all editors are craven.

Here is Don in his own words, cut slightly for space:

“In October, 2015 I wrote a piece for Outside Bozeman magazine, “A Rift Runs Through It”, about the long Montana legal battle to secure and maintain public access to the Ruby River in accordance with the state’s stream access law. (I will make a copy of that text available to anyone on request.) To summarize a complex issue for those unfamiliar with the case, wealthy Atlanta businessman James Cox Kennedy engaged in extensive litigation to prevent such access, only to be denied repeatedly in court due to the efforts of the Montana Public Land and Water Access Association. While the article was not complimentary to Kennedy, no one has challenged the accuracy of the reporting.

“James Cox Kennedy is a major financial contributor to Ducks Unlimited. On November 10, a Ducks Unlimited functionary informed me that my position with the magazine was terminated because of Cox’s displeasure with the article.

“… The Ruby River article had nothing whatsoever to do with ducks or Ducks Unlimited (DU hereafter). The article did strongly support the rights of hunters and other outdoor recreationists to enjoy land and water to which they are entitled to access, and DU is a hunters’ organization… DU has essentially taken the position that wealthy donors matter more than the outdoor recreationists they purport to represent.

“… If every journalist reporting on these issues faces this kind of vindictive retribution, the future of wildlife and wildlife habitat-not to mention the hunters and anglers of ordinary means who form the backbone of groups like DU-is bleak indeed.

“… If you share my concerns-especially if you are a DU member-I encourage you to contact the organization, express your opinion, and take whatever further action you might consider appropriate.”

DU has not only “fired” Don– they have done a Soviet- esque rewriting of
history, eliminating every reference and piece of writing that he ever
did, and his name, from their website. They are risking making themselves appear not only spineless, but pretty close to a laughing stock, a shame for an organization that has done far more good than harm in the past. Ding Darling must be spinning in his grave. It brings to mind old Montana curmudgeon Peter Bowen’s too- true and much- quoted apercu: “Poor folks act like folks; rich folks act like govermint…”

I am betting Don comes out of this looking a lot better than DU, never mind Mr Kennedy…

A contrarian view on eagle conservation

I had published this on Jameson Parker’s blog in response to a question and it occurred that it would make an interesting little essay. But some have misunderstood it, so let me give you my conclusions before my reasoning:

I don’t think (Golden) eagles are in any way endangered, but I support protection for them.

I don’t think wind power companies and other utilities should get an automatic free pass  on killing eagles.

I don’t think any Indian tribes without a strong religious reason for taking eagles should be allowed to do so (I am encouraged that at least one pueblo now keeps live eagles, and attempts to breed them). I think that commercial exploitation of eagles and other birds of prey for their feathers by anyone is deplorable, and ideally should be ended. In today’s world, I doubt that it will.

The legal take of no more than six eagles for falconry was something that put less pressure on the population than any other conceivable use, and even added to the Indians and wind farms, would have a negligible effect. In all likelihood allowing ANY falconer who qualified to take an eagle would not make any difference. If officials were really worried about this, they could mandate that trained eagles be released into the wild after ten years as the Kazakhs do.

In the ideal world, conservation decisions should be based on biology. In our real world, they can’t be, not entirely anyway. Still, using a little information and pretending to a bit less hypocrisy would be welcome. And another thought: the educational value of trained eagles is not to be dismissed.

So, here it is:

I have a bit of a heretical stance about Golden eagles re wind farms. I dislike the amount of kills allowed for wind farms. But whether or
not the population is harmed needs at least two questions answered. One
is how many (Golden) eagles there are; the other is what else takes them
out of (breeding) circulation.

The first is never discussed except among biologists– it is as though
certain enviros do not want to ever say anything optimistic. The number
of Bald eagles got brought low, partly by persistent pesticides, and
now increases as it becomes ever more tolerant of human society. But the
number of known Golden nests (or rather the reasonably accepted
extrapolated number ) is AND MAY ALWAYS HAVE BEEN almost inconceivably
high, so high I am not inclined to quote it without access to the actual
data, except five figures of pairs in North America. (There are two
nesting pairs I know of within ten miles of where I write these notes).
This is never publicized, but you can track it down. The data is not
from livestock or energy apologists, either. Remember, there is an
untouched Arctic population, and ones in Labrador that seem to eat
herons in breeding season. The golden is so adaptable that there is a
Greek population that eats mostly tortoises. I doubt wind turbines will
dent those numbers or scare them away.

The Texans used to shoot hundreds every year and it seems to have
done little biological harm. Now wind farms are allowed to kill several
hundred a year, and Navajos and other Native peoples are allowed not
only unlimited hunting but utterly unlimited access to such species as Red- tailed hawks, not to train but to sell feathers. Which works out in
practice that every delinquent kid on a troubled reservation sees a
hawk on a pole and shoots it. Then probably sells it. While there are
serious religious uses of eagles by the Pueblos, there is also an
internal market, really illicit, in feathers for tribal dance outfits,
competitive and lucrative- and some sympathetic judges have decided
these commercial competitions are protected too. (Meanwhile one pueblo
has modified its ceremonies to no longer kill eagles, and has hired a
biologist to teach them how to keep them in a healthy way!)

Many activist types hate falconry as intolerable meddling with
romantic symbols, but a falconer’s eagle is not even lost from the
population– only “on loan” so to speak. The Kazakhs I rode with in Asia
let them go to breed after ten years, and eagles commonly live to over
30. Until now falconers were a allowed a take of  6 wild-caught Golden eagles a year, only from areas in Wyoming and the Dakotas with
proven sheep predation problems. Right now the government is inclined to
end this benign “use”. I wish that moralists and humane activists would
not go after the tiny portion of eagles allowed to falconers! If we
allow a small kill harvest from the tribes, an unknown yet amount for
wind farms, oil wells, roads and such, and want a healthy population… we
HAVE to set fairly rigid quotas to be safe. But known numbers could
easily allow a live take of up to six (or ten or whatever– except I
don’t think that there will ever be that many eaglers), some of which
would eventually even breed.

Meanwhile, in the warden- free lands of most reservations eagles
still exist only because of apathy– there is no protection. Ranchers
under 60 are more or less benign, and don’t shoot them (wolves are far
more threatening in both reality and reputation), but some angry young
rez kids kill every sitting bird they see, and sell the feathers no
matter what, as a demonstration that they “own” them Some tribes have
made clear falconers shouldn’t get any quota, because they are religious
symbols! A bit of Googling would show us the old regs, under which we
existed and complained for decades, while Texans shot hundreds or maybe
even thousands (see Don Scheuler’s Incident at Eagle Ranch), were uninformed– they now seem almost as unimaginable as
photos of the aerial dogfights with eagles when they were hunted from
planes. But, counterintuitively, they were probably biologically harmless
in that they didn’t– because they couldn’t– wipe out eagles. Morally
though, making dead eagles a commodity for anyone looks worse to me than
wind farms; commerce can drive extinction like stoking a fire.

        (Photo above from Life Magazine in 1953, from an eagle shooter’s view in Texas)

Why not reasonable quotas for falconers’ birds? Fewer privileges for
Indians, at least ones with no religious stake, as those don’t have the
built- in cultural reverence? And less posturing from anti- wind people
at least about eagles aka Charismatic Megafauna (the turbines may
actually be worse for bats, a group far more threatened than the Golden
eagle!)

White Man in Africa, 1997

Dug this up when Annie D showed me a YouTube of a baby rhino– white? — in S Africa, in a similar predicament. Back in ’97, when it was permissible if naive to think Mugabe was not a monster (such writers as Peter Godwin had already laid out the truth), when Zimbabwe had one of the most enlightened conservation programs in Africa, more innovative than ours…

Karl Hess Jr. sent us– me and a couple of other journalists; Tom Wolf, Wendy Marston, Rich Miniter– there at the request of the government, to report on their success, especially with elephants.

Someday maybe– too much heartbreak soon followed. This photo taken near Kariba, where I caught the falciparum Malaria that almost killed me, and I suspect might have been the trigger that made such things as PD and RA, which I have genes for, express themselves. Certainly I never looked quite that robust again– I look like Redmond O’Hanlon! White man in the tropics drinking gin…

The rhino’s mother had been killed by poachers. The poachers had been killed by the tall, shaven- headed head ranger who, he gleefully told me, was the best ranger in Zimbabwe because “I kill more poachers!”

RIP: Frank Bond, 1943- 2013

Frank Bond, of Santa Fe New Mexico, one of the four founders of the Peregrine Fund; lawyer, rancher, principled politician, father, old- fashioned but innovative conservationist; old friend; perhaps first, in his own mind,  falconer, died of a swift- moving cancer last week.

The scion of a wealthy sheep -ranching family in northern New Mexico, one that once held the grazing leases in Valles Caldera, he grew up in Espanola, and spoke Spanish as well as he spoke English. He attended school at Governor Dummer Academy in Massachusetts and Colorado College before getting a Master’s in Spanish at the University of Arizona and a law degree at UNM. With Jim Weaver, who later came to live, ranch,  and fly falcons in eastern New Mexico, Dr Tom Cade of Cornell, who was born here down near the Bootheel, and Bob Berry, then of Philadelphia but now in Wyoming, he founded the Peregrine Fund, which then built the breeding barns at Cornell. Those became the first mass breeding facilities in the world, run by Jim. The Cornell quonset huts were the “factory” that fueled the restoration of the species in the lower 48, an effort manned for years entirely by falconers, who gave up their summer time and amenities to babysit birds in places ranging from urban to remote. (They did not “bring it back from extinction”, as the ignorant often say, though they did just that with the Mauritius kestrel). Those that scorn the Fund’s deliberately mixed- gene hack birds as Cornell chickens are probably jaded by seeing the now- common birds in eastern cities; without Cornell and the P- Fund  barns we might still have only the Colorado plateau birds and a few southern “Peale’s” birds on the coast of Washington breeding in our entire country south of Alaska.

I honestly thought Frank might be the one to provide the bridge between
nuevo “Green” enviros and old school ranchers, hunters, and game
biologist types, and when he ran for governor on the Republican ticket in 1990, I not only supported him but worked for and with him in Socorro and Catron counties (later I will post about one hilarious incident on the campaign trail). He was a rancher, a founder of the P- Fund, and a long- time trustee of Alan Savory’s Holistic Range Management group, whose intense short- term grazing and constant movement can revive desperately overgrazed, “ruined” land. He was both an early supporter of project Lighthawk and a connoisseur of fine guns who hunted big game in Africa. He loved his Gyrfalcons more than any other birds, but was also a serious pigeon racer; his loft was designed by an architect after some adobe structures he had seen in Spain. He offered me the plans once, but I had a feeling they would cost me as much as my (granted tiny, 4 room), house to build, so I thanked him and regretfully declined. He attended race meetings  where there were few Anglos and probably no other rich men.

When he lost by not too much to his friend (and ranch lessee!) Bruce King, a genial old – fashioned hand- shaking pol who never forgot a face but was alleged to have referred to a roadrunner on his desk as “that ol woodpecker”,  I realized that today’s divisions had begun. When the Sierra Club deserted an eminent conservationist for a Democrat who never saw a cow he didn’t like or a bird he could identify, my in- laws quit an organization they had belonged to for over fifty years. Frank devoted the rest of his life to law and conservation, especially to international bird of prey issues. He himself never paid undue attention to partisanship; my lawyer friend Jessica Abberly, a lifelong Democrat, emailed me that he was “…one of the last true gentleman attorneys out there, by the way.”

I used to spend a lot of time with him and his then wife in Santa Fe, a time that included my early days with Libby, but time and space and the human realities of loss, breakup, rearing kids, kids leaving, travel and distance all contributed to our not having spent much time together in the last few years, and I realized when I heard that he was ill that I had not seen him but once in the last two years, and that for only a hurried handshake . I wrote to him of the campaign incident, hoping to raise a smile, and then he was gone.

He will be missed. The Peregrine Fund  continues to work with rare species like the Phillipine eagle and the orange- breasted falcon, and is playing a big part in trying to reverse the dire population crashes of Old World vultures, first in India and coming in Africa. Frank himself had moved on to working for the International Association for Falconry and Birds of Prey, where he served as president; when you see films of their meetings in the Czech Republic or the Emirates, you often see his silver belly Stetson hat, the only one present. His importance as a conservationist and a diplomat serving both nature and our sport can hardly be exaggerated.

But he was a private man for all that, and my best memories of him are of sitting around a large living room with the Havell Audubon print of life- sized black Gyrs and the original Reid- Henry painting of white Gyr head studies, telling stories. Some of us will always miss that unassuming, hospitable, soft- spoken friend, a fortunate  man who always gave more than he got,  and one who spoke as easily and with as much interest to his homeboys in Espanola as he did to international figures.

Free Association

I have been kicking a few unrelated (?) things around, having plenty of material but not feeling, with our tough environmental conditions (no water, heat, impending possible rain making it an uncomfortable mix of steamy and dusty) much like writing a long essay. I was rambling freely through these things to L. and suddenly thought: I’ll just post this, the stroll through. So:

Tim Gallagher’s books have all been interesting, but I have thought even in its first stages; no, since reading his first slightly shaky email  from Mexico when he had emerged from the Sierra in a last nightmarish drive at 5 miles per hour past buildings that had been set afire since he had last passed them–  that Imperial Dreams  may be his best. It is certainly his most thrilling: his account of trying to find a remnant of the biggest and most spectacular woodpecker that ever lived in a beautiful but damaged land now controlled by narcotraficantes.

From my “official” review, not yet out: “Imperial Dreams  is a natural history of the world’s most spectacular woodpecker and a mystery: a forensic inquiry into what, despite the narrator’s hopes, looks like the death of a species. It starts as light-hearted adventure …  becomes a tragedy and a tale of terror. It may be Gallagher’s best book yet, one to excite adventure travelers who might never pick up a “bird book,” while telling an unforgettable tale of loss…

“The Imperial Woodpecker’s fate might seem even grimmer than the Ivory-bill’s; the researchers find evidence that loggers repeatedly encouraged shooting and poisoning the bird to ensure its demise. If true, it represents a case of successful, conscious biocide; worse, one done for imaginary reasons—the destruction of trees that were already infested with beetle grubs. “

Strong stuff, and all too relevant. But I also saw something funny. For various reasons, uber- guitarist Jimmy Page and his various bands have been crossing the screen lately, and I realized that Jim and Tim look like the old Spy Magazine “Separated at birth'” thing. Tim lives in upstate New York and grew up in southern Cal when there was still nature there, but like Page he was born in England. This is a very gringo face for someone who, with little Spanish, is walking around the Sierra Madre with a bird book, saying “Senor, have you seen this bird?” Tim, Jimmy:

They both looked different back in the late Sixties. I will find a pic of Tim, who had long hair and a beard, but here is Jimmy Page with the great Yardbirds in ’68, on French TV:

Great? At one time they featured Jeff Beck, Page, and Clapton (some time will find photos of some of Clapton’s London Bests).

Led Zeppelin were recently honored in Washington– never thought I would see Page, Robert Plante, and John Paul Jones in tuxes, being praised by the president and serenaded by Heart… (Annie Davidson sent this one…)

I was conferring with my little sport- science lit and guns group– five guys from 40- 70 who are variously, singly and multiply profs, biologists, bloggers, a novelist, a carpenter, a falconer, a former contributor to English Literary Renaissance, and a lawyer, stretched out over the nation from Marin County to Ithaca, about all these various important phenomena. A member who is several of the above,  Carlos Martinez del Rio, reminded me of another band, more local in impact but as memorable in performance: Boston’s Mission of Burma, who played the “Cellars by Starlight” (Jimmy Isaac’s Phoenix column and collective term for the Boston area clubs) when I worked at Inn Square in the seventies, and in the eighties when he got his nose broken at a memorable concert. Gerry, this is what they sound like– not Winterreise, though I like Fischer Diskau too.

Finally, Magdalenian Joel Becktell, last seen on the blog busting clays at Piet’s last Thanksgiving, cellist and peer of Yo Yo Ma, doing just that, and then playing selections with his crossover classical group Revel– including, of course,  “Stairway to Heaven.”

Water– nada…

Krazy Kats continued

(I just could’t continue with the K’s)…
 
David Petersen is a bowhunter and a good writer; I think of him as an old shaman of the antler totem, and he has just received an award from the Back Country Hunters and Anglers. Here he is with a fine bull elk.

But he is not looking for praise; he is spearheading the effort to make Audubon Magazine  live up to its historic principles of bird conservation, and reinstate conservation writer Ted Williams,  fired for arguing for the euthanasia of feral cats, considered a major factor in the loss of breeding songbirds. My take is further down on the page, and I agree 100%. Dave?

“At the suggestion of Audubon, Mr. Williams, quite recently, wrote a short piece for the Orlando Sentinel
detailing the horrific annual slaughter of songbirds in North America
by cats, both well-fed and alley variety. A focus of Ted’s article was
on the inhumanity and ineffectiveness of the currently dominant method
of public feral cat control, which involves trapping, neutering, and
release back onto the streets to continue killing birds and other
wildlife. Rather than this failed and inhumane program, Ted pointed out,
it would be both more effective and more merciful to these millions of
starving homeless cats, to trap and euthanize them. Ted went on to point
out the ready availability of an inexpensive, effective and human
cat-specific drug that authorities could be using for cat euthanasia,
rather than a less effective concoction used in the past. From that, the
Kat Krazies eagerly and viciously misinterpreted that Williams’ was
advocating that you and I should go out and start poisoning kitties in
the park, which he had not said at all…”

Read the rest here, and join Dave’s campaign to rehire a quality journalist who brought a real problem into focus.

Two more points: cat haters may for all I know be present in this campaign “against” cats, but its impetus was from a group of scientists involved in bird conservation. I have owned nearer ten than five cats, and my not having any is more a function of living in a four room house with five dogs and a hawk, and priorities.

Second, while a cat lovers group has objected to the methods of the study that implicated cats as significant songbird predators, studies in Australia and England came to the same conclusion. Especially if you live in an area of ground nesting birds,  at least til we know better, keep those kitties in!

UPDATE  26 March: Matt Miller says Ted has been rehired. No oficial word but Matt has good connections and I asssume he is right!

The Crazy Cat Lobby

I have known environmental gadfly Ted Williams for well over 30 years, since  Gray’s Sporting Journal was based in Brookline Mass. Ted was and is tough, sardonic, and not one to mince words– he was has never been inclined to cut anybody any slack, even friends. I am by no means in agreement with him on every issue; for instance, like most eastern journalists  he has never quite comprehended the virtues  of public land ranching, only the vices. But so what? Not only is he quite capable of reducing friends as well as  enemies to sputtering incoherence; I think he enjoys it, and I suspect arguing with him will either hone or demolish your own arguments.  Some have called this lifelong hunter of woodcock and ducks (and, last we talked about such things, New England Republican) an anti- hunter because he follows no party line; one friend refers to him as a Bolshevik. By party line standards I am just as bad, albeit on different issues. If you feel he is wrong, you damn well better have your facts researched; Ted was and is fearless, well- researched, blunt, funny, and honest. He is staunchly “green” but never politically correct.

More than ten years ago, Audubon magazine fired the man who may have been the best nature editor of our generation, the audacious and utterly unconventional Les Line (I have blogged on him– hit archives & search) . They wanted trendy urban stories, not nature writing. At the time I said there was no longer any reason to read the magazine. But I was wrong; Ted still wrote for them, and though I never re- subscribed, I often bought the magazine on the stands and read his column. Even when he was irritating, I knew I could trust him.

Recently,  he wrote a piece for a Florida newspaper advocating culling the immensely destructive feral cat population to preserve songbirds (the numbers of lost birds every year suggested by more than one study runs into the billions, and can be found on Google). A couple of cyber groups immediately put up Internet petitions to have the monster fired .

At which point Audubon, unbelievably, caved in to the Internet flash mob of ecological illiterates (including a mob of sentimental cat loonies who call themselves Alley Cat Allies– I will NOT link), and fired him, cravenly reducing his 33 years of writing  for them, mostly on the masthead, to “freelance writer and occasional contributor”, and ignoring every conservation study in the past decade.

 Audubon– the- mag has now achieved the remarkable feat of firing both the best nature editor of our time and our most independent conservation columnist. If you are so inclined, go to their website and tell them just how inconsequential and worthless they have become.

Update: some hard numbers from Patrick Burns, sent to Audubon:

“Please count me as one of those extremely disappointed in the National Audubon Society’s treatment of Ted Williams in response to a bunch of squalling feral cat advocates who have positively declared war on America’s birds.

Here are the facts when it comes to feral cats:

·         Feral cats kill over 2,500 birds a MINUTE in the U.S. — over 1.5 billion a year.

·         Feral cats are not pets. They cannot be rehomed.

·         Feral cat colonies are not “No Kill” — they are the planned, subsidized, and systematic mass killing of native wildlife.

Let’s change this losing game. It’s time to trap and euthanize… and Audubon should stand behind it.

The only reason to read Audubon magazine is Ted William’s column…”

Update 2:
David Petersen writes:
 ” As I read the piece, he was calling for mercy to the murderous hordes of cat-killing feral cats by replacing the dominant neutering program with a far more humane  euthanasia program. While Mr. Williams clearly did not overtly suggest that you and I start poisoning cats, as the cat crazies claim, he has nonetheless subsequently apologized for any lack of clarity in what he did say, as you can see for yourself via
http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2013-03-14/news/os-ed-feral-cats-031413-20130313_1_feral-cats-feral-cat-problem-alley-cat-allies

“Audubon is North America’s leading voice on behalf of birds. Cats, feral and otherwise, are a, or the, leading cause of the shameless mass slaughter of birds. How many feral cat crazies are Audubon supporters?”

(And, like me– and how many others?– he remembers Les Line; he ” …was never able to find it in myself to forgive Audubon for dumping Les Line, who, in many readers’ minds, was Audubon Magazine.”)