Our Response - Page 6

Falconers certainly had no influence on Eastern anatum populations given falconers’ small numbers at the time and the number of peregrines taken (some protectionists did try to include falconers as part of the blame), which McDonald informs us, was no more than 20 to 30 eyasses per year in the late 1930s, and from ’39 onward few if any eyasses were taken due to Bill Turner and Al Nye’s discovery in 1938 of migrating tundra peregrines on Assateague Island.1 McDonald (2010) states “American falconry, had its active beginning in the 1930’s. No discernable activity, for the most part, has been recorded prior to that period; therefore there
1 Bill Turner’s father, Landon, and a Law Enforcement officer, “Roddy” Gascoyne - unsure of the spelling -, for USFWS, would fish at Fox Hill Levels on Assateague and when the fishing for Red Drum was slow due to the outgoing tide, they would shoot sitting peregrines with a .22 Hornet varmint caliber rifle, to pass the time, since this was socially justifiable given the belief that peregrines would take game birds. Landon Turner saved some of the dead peregrines and brought them home for his son to see since Bill was a falconer. It must have been heart-wrenching for Bill to see these dead peregrines, but it provided evidence that migrating tundra peregrines did rest on Assateague before moving on. These tundra peregrines then became the primary subspecies falconers would trap. (McDonald, 2010) was no impact on wild raptor populations.” The population of falconers in the 30’s was simply too small to have any effect. But egg-collecting was different, as a plethora of period literature informs us. Kiff & Zink provide


[W]idespread hobbyist egg collecting did not really take hold in North America until the 1860s…. The study of eggs … was at its zenith on this continent from about 1885 through the 1920s … and had completely faded from the American scene by 1970. Thus, the ‘oological chapter’ of North American natural history lasted about a century.’ … Egg collecting was justified on both scientific and recreational grounds (Grinnell, 1906), and many of the great lights of American ornithology … collected bird eggs in their early years. (Kiff & Zink, 2005)

Next let us consider the environmental forces that have caused the Eastern population of the anatum peregrine subspecies to become extinct and how much of the evidence that was available was ignored. You may ask “I thought the peregrine was saved?” “The American peregrine falcon was listed as endangered on June 2, 1970, under the precursor of the Endangered Species Act (35 FR 16047)”2 However, the “American” peregrine is the anatum subspecies and the Eastern portion of the population (hereafter referred to as the Eastern anatum, which was much larger than its Western brethren3; so much so that it could be classified as distinct) became extinct, as a regional and unique group, sometime in the 1950s (McDonald, 2010), well before the anatum was listed as endangered. The Western portion of the anatum population declined significantly due to natural environmental conditions. Nelson (Hickey, 1969, pp. 65-67) hypothesized that the lack of precipitation and rising average temperatures in the western portion of North America were the primary contributors to the decline of the Western anatum peregrine. He stated “There was practically no pesticide problem when the decline started.” Which he stated began in the 1930’s or earlier. Beebe’s hypothesis of the need for humidity levels being critical to the survival of eyass peregrines (Beebe, 1960, p. 181) supports Nelson’s hypothesis.

Member Login