Thursday, March 08, 2007

Of birds and big guns

Ever since the Navy published its supplemental environmental impact statement on a controversial landing field in Northeastern North Carolina a couple weeks ago, folks have been having fun with the Pentagon’s contemplated techniques for changing the habits of birds that pose a problem to costly jets.
The list includes changing crops from winter wheat, which attracts large birds, to grass, which doesn’t; using fireworks or other audible mens to shoo the birds; chemicals or poisons to deter or eradicate birds, and, if necessary, gunfire. Let’s just hope the birds don’t have a supplier for their own armament.
Here’s a story by the N&O’s Wade Rawlings that sheds more light on the Navy’s possible deterrents to avoid bird-aircraft collisions.
And here’s a cartoon by the N&O’s Dwane Powell, about putting the Battleship North Carolina back into service to help guard the OLF.
And here’s a funny editorial from The Wilmington Star suggesting strafing and napalm.
Here’s the strange part: Why have a federally-sponsored, taxpayer-financed national wildlife refuge, meant to attract huge birds from near the Arctic Circle to come all the way to North Carolina, if it’s also going to be federal policy to discourage those birds from doing what they normally do once they get here – flying out of the refuge each day to feed in nearby fields? Why invite those birds down for the winter -- and then starve ‘em, scare ‘em, deafen ‘em, sicken ‘em or shoot ‘em?
Only the federal government could come up with such a costly contradiction.


David McKnight said...

Jack, what happened to Sen. Elizabeth Dole's previously stated opposition to the Navy landing strip plan for Washington and Beaufort counties? According to The News & Observer's Washington Bureau, the senator has moved into some sort of undecided zone.

Meanwhile, Sen. Dole's fellow North Carolina Republican Sen. Richard Burr is reported to be taking the position that members of Congress should not speak out against administrative decisions by the Navy or other branches of the Armed Forces about whether and where to install various operations and facilities. Yet, when it comes time to consider possible base closings at various locations around the country, strong defenses of existing facilities are routinely put forward by members of Congress in the potentially affected states as a matter of course.

The Republicans may have lost a real opportunity to demonstrate to North Carolinians that they will not casually allow precious and unique coastal wwetlands to be needlessly ruined without at least some clear and relevant discussion of the merits of the case for environmental preservation.

Moreover, is the poisoning and gunning down of tens of thousands of rare and unusual birds a true investment in our national defense? The "national defense" is supposed to defend the physical land and water resources of the Nation itself, including within reasonable assessments its native bounty of natural resources.

North Carolinians opposed to this poorly conceived Navy shopping expedition who wish to include the Repubican Party in their appeal for proper and responsible congressional action may have better luck contacting the Republican congressional delegation from the state of Texas.

Some folks in the Lone Star State may appear to consider the Carolinas and Georgia as practically an extension of East Texas, but at least they appreciate their wildflowers and natural wildlife.

And it doesn't take a Molly Ivins to tell the difference between strengthening the national defense and horsing around with our more delicate and irreplaceable wetlands. McClatchy or no McClatchy, The Observer shouldn't just let Raleigh's News & Observer call the tunes for this dance but should send its own reporters and photographers to the proposed Navy landing strip site to document the true natural bounty present in that region of the coast including Washington and Beaufort counties.

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