Who intentionally set off fireworks under a blackbird roost in Beebe, Arkansas on New Year's Eve killing at least 200 birds? In some warped homage to last New Year's when at least 5,000 blackbirds perished?
Do the killers think their prank is funny or that the birds are nothing but pests?
The killers have a lot in common with the US Department of Agriculture, In 2009, the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) says it poisoned 489,444 red-winged blackbirds in Texas alone and 461,669 in Louisiana. It also shot 4,217 blackbirds in California, 2,246 in North Dakota and 1,063 in Oregon according to its posted records.
That is in addition to the starlings, crows, ravens, doves, geese, owls (yes owls) hawks, pigeons, ducks, larks, woodpeckers and coots the government kills to benefit ranchers, farmers and other private interests. And squirrels, rabbits, badgers, bobcats, beavers, woodchucks, coyotes, opossums, raccoons and mountain lions.
The he-men at the Wildlife Service also shot 29 great blue herons, 820 cattle egrets and 115 white-faced ibises in 2009, despite the known dangers of approaching shore birds.
It's hard to know which is worse: government agencies like APHIS, Louisiana State University and the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry helping private rice farmers and landowners with our tax dollars. Or the scorched earth baiting of their rice fields with poison "until blackbird populations are depleted," as LSU's Rice Research Station News puts it.
APHIS even uses caged red-winged blackbirds as decoys to attract wild ones says Audubon magazine and "pre-baits" an area with unpoisoned food to ensure the most takers.
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