Why We Need Wildlife Policies At Our Local Park / Facebook post, Whatcom Hawk, Wendy Harris

construction semiahmoo

Yesterday at 5:35am  January 14, 2016  Wendy Harris

A trip today to the county park at Semiahmoo was not uplifting.

First, I saw heavy construction occurring in the middle of the spit right in the prime of the winter bird season. See that water in the first photo.. Drayton Harbor… it should be full of sea birds and waterfowl. I am not sure if this was planned, but it did not look like a sudden storm event that required emergency repairs.

eagle semiahmooThe only wildlife window the Parks Department ever considers is for fish and that is only because it is a requirement for a hydraulic permit. But no one enforces sensitive periods for seabirds and waterfowl, so the county could care less. Of note, Semiahmoo, Drayton Harbor and Birch Bay are the only designated important bird areas in Whatcom County and Semiahmoo provides important habitat for migrating shorebirds, overwintering sea birds and waterfowl, and raptors. Disruptions at this time of year could impact bird survival. Where else are all the birds to go with dwindling habitat everywhere?

eagle and drone notedAnd speaking of raptors, I watched in amazement as someone with a drone harassed an eagle on one of the usual overlook trees where they watch for prey. You can see the drone approaching in the 2nd and 3rd photo. I could not wait to run out of my car and speak to the culprit, who turned out to be an arrogant young man with his wife and three children in tow. His wife told me they were simply trying to get good eagle photos and had no idea that causing the bird to fly away could have any harmful impact.

family semiahmooWhen the husband arrived he told me he was legally entitled to do this, even if he intruded into the air space of an eagle’s nests, and that no federal or county laws restricted this. I know that you need a license to fly a drone, which he assured that he had and as I began to explain why this was something that could be harmful to the bird, he told his sons, “we have done NOTHING wrong”, and he grabbed his family and hustled off quickly.

It was my intention for a wildlife management committee to make recommendations to deal with exactly these types of situations, but thanks to the underhanded dealings of Rud Browne and Barry Wenger, we now have a group of people doing free consultant work that the county was mandated to do under the GMA anyway, and no one looking at or making management recommendations to avoid human/wildlife conflicts.

These kinds of actions will continue, with the result that we will be lose more and more of our wildlife, biodiversity and our quality of life.

Read Wendy’s post on the Whatcom Hawk Facebook page here.

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