February 17, 2019

It’s Not Just a Hunter Who Harasses Wildlife

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I was reading an article this morning online from the website CentralMaine.com about how social media has contributed to providing realtime locations of rare wildlife species, followed by an influx of eager watchers, photographers, and perhaps even the occasional hunter.

It reminded me of a true story about two hunters/fishermen who spotted a rare bird and the very responsible thing that was done.

Several years ago, these two hunters who were on a fishing trip in the north-central region of Maine, opted not to go out in their canoe one fine morning to fly-fish for brook trout due to rather windy conditions. Instead, one of the two suggested they take a ride to where he had taken a view of some ledges in the far distance during the trip in. What he had in mind was a chance to try out his new spotting scope.

The two guys made the relatively short drive from the campground down the dusty dirt road and located an excellent spot in which one could easily see the cliffs, but only very sharp eyes and/or binoculars/spotting scope might see any birds utilizing the cliffs for prey or nesting.

The man who had the spotting scope mentioned that he was hoping maybe the cliffs were home to some peregrine falcons.

The other guy had neither scope nor binoculars but had excellent eyesight.

After a few minutes, the man without enhanced viewing mechanisms, said, “Hey, I think I can occasionally see some birds flying about in front of those ledges! They must be pretty big birds if I can see them with my bare eyes.”

The other man had been looking in his scope. What his companion didn’t know is that he had already spotted the birds and was watching them trying to figure out just what kind of birds they were.

After perhaps an hour of viewing, each taking turns looking through the scope, it was decided that what was seen certainly appeared to be a pair of golden eagles, even though, to their knowledge, there were no “known” golden eagles in the state of Maine.

Excited about the prospects of what had been seen, they agreed that they should keep their mouths shut until they could get more information. Perhaps, they thought, they were the only ones to have spotted this nesting pair.

They finished the fishing trip and headed home at the end of the weekend. On Monday morning, the man who owned the scope, called the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) and reported what he had seen.

After a bit of conversation, the person at MDIFW told the informant that the department was aware of the nesting pair and that they were working with the landowner in hopes of offering as much protection as possible in order to help facilitate a successful breeding and fledging. He was asked to please not share this information until the event had run its course.

And that is exactly what the two men did, even though they wanted so much to tell as many people as they could.

I know this story to be true because I was one of the two men. If others should be more the same way perhaps things would be a bit different and there would be less harassment of wildlife.

I’m not holding my breath.

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