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Archive for July 20th, 2010

Researchers from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology have spotted at least 300-400 pelicans and hundreds of terns smeared with oil on Raccoon Island, the largest seabird nesting area along the Louisiana coast.

“This is a major oiling event of an incredibly important seabird colony. Many of these birds will be dead soon—weeks and months. These blotches are deadly.”—Marc Dantzker,  Biologist with Cornell—considered one of the nation’s premier institutions for bird research

The researchers’ findings mark a sharp and sudden escalation in wildlife harmed by the Gulf oil spill. State and federal observers had reported only 68 oiled pelicans on Raccoon Island.

About 30 to 40 of the pelicans spotted by the researchers were covered “head-to-tail” in oil, while many more had oil blotches. Even a small amount of oil is deadly for it can hamper a bird’s ability to regulate its body temperature.

“This is not like Exxon Valdez where you had tens of thousands of birds killed all at once. It’s more insidious because it is literally happening in waves and it’s happening over and over again as the birds are moving around.”—Ken Rosenberg, director of conservation science at the Cornell laboratory.

Raccoon Island contains an estimated 10,000 birds.


 

Oil hits Louisiana’s largest seabird nesting area

By Matthew Brown  

Biologists say oil has smeared at least 300-400 pelicans and hundreds of terns in the largest seabird nesting area along the Louisiana coast—marking a sharp and sudden escalation in wildlife harmed by BP’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The finding underscores that official tallies of birds impacted by the spill could be significantly underestimating the scope of damage.

The government counts only oiled birds collected for rehabilitation or found dead, for use as evidence in the spill investigation. Oiled birds in the many nesting areas that dot the Gulf coast typically are left in place and not counted in official tallies.

Researchers from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology said Wednesday that they had spotted the oiled pelicans on Raccoon Island over the past several days. The spit of land lines the Gulf outside the state’s coastal marshes. An estimated 10,000 birds nest on the island in Terrebonne Parish.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Lisa Williams said state and federal observers had documented only 68 oiled pelicans on Raccoon Island.

Biologist Marc Dantzker with Cornell—considered one of the nation’s premier institutions for bird research—said about 30 to 40 of the pelicans spotted by his group were oiled “head-to-tail.” Many more had visible blotches of oil.

Dead birds also were seen, although no count was available for those.

“This is a major oiling event of an incredibly important seabird colony,” Dantzker said. “Many of these birds will be dead soon—weeks and months. These blotches are deadly.”

Even a small amount of oil can kill birds because it hampers their ability to regulate their body temperature.

The Raccoon Island colony was established by the state in the 1980s. Its successful expansion epitomized restoration efforts that brought brown pelicans off the endangered species list last year.

Oil from the spill 50 miles off the coast hit the island on July 10, after Hurricane Alex drove high seas into the region as it passed to the south, according to Louisiana officials. And with millions of gallons of crude still at sea it could be hit again.

“This is not like Exxon Valdez where you had tens of thousands of birds killed all at once,” said Ken Rosenberg, director of conservation science at the Cornell laboratory. “It’s more insidious because it is literally happening in waves and it’s happening over and over again as the birds are moving around.”

Dantzker said he was surprised the government’s number was so low and speculated that they used a different method to count oiled birds.

“Come out and look with us,” he said. “If you’re on the island and using binoculars you will see those birds.”

Across the Gulf, roughly 3,000 killed or oil-covered birds have been collected by wildlife agencies since BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded and sank on April 20, killing 11 workers.

Williams, the wildlife official, declined to say how many more birds that were not collected might have oil on them. She said those figures were being compiled, but the results would not be available for some time.

As has been the case with other nesting colonies, Williams said her agency did not plan to rescue the oiled birds from Raccoon Island because that could disrupt other birds in the colony. Entering a colony can flush nesting birds and lead to adults inadvertently killing their young.

“We don’t want to cause more harm than good,” Williams said.

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Off the Deep End

By Jerry A. Kane

Give the NRA credit for being involved with the McDonald vs. Chicago Supreme Court case and battling the United Nation’s gun control efforts. But the organization must be held accountable for its duplicitous actions regarding the Disclose Act as well as its past and likely future endorsements of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his Democrat colleagues hell-bent on pushing through a leftist agenda and shredding America’s Bill of Rights.  

The NRA crossed a line, and my most recent commentary, “It’s Time to Teach the NRA a Lesson,” calls upon NRA members and American patriots to make the organization atone for its reprehensible behavior.

An editor of a Web publication that had regularly posted my commentaries and news stories made the following excuse for rejecting my recent commentary:

We desperately need the NRA to defend against New Orleans-type confiscation and UN gun control by treaty. … The NRA was essential in the Supreme Court victories in Heller and MacDonald.

They didn’t expend resources to fight the Disclose Act because that is not their mission. Many members would have been justifiably outraged to have their contributions spent on something other than the Second Amendment defense.  I think they clearly understand how much the right to keep and bear arms secures all the other rights, and it has never been more important than with this president.

I understand their political strategy.  If they lose Harry Reid, and the Dems retain control, they might wind up with Chuck Schumer, which would be worse.  The NRA is a one-issue advocacy, gun rights only, that includes Democrats as well as Republicans.  They optimize on that one issue.  Rather than cancel memberships, I’d advise members to flood headquarters with letters of protest against endorsing Harry Reid or spending any funds on his campaign.  I would prefer to see them just sit this one out, but even if they do support Reid, I’d not want to see them damaged because of the other fights they are essential for.

So I answered with the following rebuttal:

You say the NRA clearly understands how much the right to keep and bear arms secures all the other rights. That’s just the point; they’re forfeiting those rights meant for all Americans to secure them for a few powerful media moguls, special interest-groups, and unions. The NRA is not upholding the Constitution as much as it is mocking it.

If the Disclose Act is not within the purview of the NRA’s mission, why then oppose it in the first place? Obviously, the NRA opposed the initial legislation because the organization would have been adversely affected by it. But when ‘blue dog” Democrats created an exemption for the NRA from the Act’s onerous regulations, the organization withdrew its opposition.

The NRA purports to be a one-issue, Second Amendment only advocacy group; yet it cut a deal to preserve its First Amendment rights, as if constitutional protections are limited to special-interest groups and unions and do not extend to small businesses and grass roots organizations. “Don’t take the First Amendment protections from me; take them from that grass roots organization behind the tree.” How pathetic that you would dare attempt to defend a position so without merit and totally indefensible.

The NRA is ultimately responsible that the Disclose Act passed the House. The Democrats in conservative districts need the NRA’s endorsement to have a chance to win re-election, and they were not going to pass the legislation if it meant losing that endorsement. Had the NRA stood its ground, the Act would not have passed the House.  

As for Schumer versus Reid, please! You must think my head screws on. Name one piece of legislation put forth by Brother O’s regime that Reid supported that Schumer would not have supported. But NRA leader Wayne LaPierre says Harry Reid supports gun rights.

And Wayne LaPierre is an honorable man.

Leftists control the Democrat Party; they play the tune and Reid, Schumer, et al, dance or they don’t hold positions of power in the Party. Reid and Schumer are two heads of the same coin. Yet Wayne LaPierre says Harry Reid is a true champion of the Second Amendment.

And Wayne LaPierre is an honorable man.

It’s been my experience that no organization is irreplaceable; we need the NRA as much we needed Smith and Wesson. S&W got the message when the gun rights people rose up en masse, and so will the NRA if enough people rise up and withdraw their memberships. But that can’t happen as long as gatekeepers … quash opinions taking the NRA to task.

My heart is in the coffin there with the small businesses and grass roots organizations,

And I must pause till it come back to me.

Over the past few years, the NRA has been more concerned with playing crony politics and maintaining a veneer of bipartisanship than it has with upholding the rights of gun owners. With time running out and the nation in dire straights, the NRA’s egregious actions should not be defended or tolerated by patriots who respect the Constitution and cherish freedom.

The gatekeepers on the right who have refused to publish stories and commentaries critical of the NRA are knowingly keeping NRA members and patriotic Americans in the dark concerning the organization’s reprehensible activities. If Democrats remain in control of the House and Senate after the November midterm election, the NRA and their gatekeeper protectors will have only themselves to blame.

The truth is that major and minor online media outlets get more readers in thirty seconds than my lowly blog gets in a year. Getting past the gatekeepers and featured on one or more of these outlets is my goal as a writer of news and political commentary. However, I’d much rather write in obscurity than protect a corrupt organization and keep the truth from the American people.

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