More than 20,000 people have signed an online petition aimed at Idaho Fish and Game to stop the killing of thousands of ravens. The point of the raven population control, though, is to protect another bird close to becoming endangered: the sage grouse.
Don Kemner’s job at the Idaho Fish and Game Department is to safeguard the sage grouse.
“They’re a really iconic bird of the west,” Kemner says. “They are tied to the sage brush steppe and have a lot of meaning to a wide variety of the public.”
California conservationist Michele Anna Jordan is fighting on behalf of the ravens.
“It’s remarkable how intelligent these birds are, much more intelligent than your smartest dog,” she says. “And really, with a different kind of intelligence, but one that might rival humans.”
Last month, Jordan heard of a plan for U.S. Wildlife Services to use an Idaho Fish and Game permit to kill 4,000 ravens this spring. The project is focused on areas near Arco, in the Curlew National Grasslands, and near the Oregon border.
Kemner says the project is necessary because ravens eat sage grouse eggs and chicks, and sage grouse populations are suffering. He says ravens, on the other hand, are thriving. Fish and Game says raven numbers are up 300-to-1,500 percent across the U.S.
So to protect the sage grouse, U.S. Wildlife Services plans to inject pesticide into hard-boiled chicken eggs and set them out for ravens to eat.
Jordan says that disturbs her deeply. She’s never been to Idaho, but when she saw the news to kill ravens, she started a petition to stop it on thepetitionsite.com.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Jordan’s petition had about 20,400 signatures. A small percentage are from Idaho. Signatures are from all over the U.S., South America, and Europe.
Kemner says U.S. Wildlife Services is still evaluating the plan. Idaho Fish and Game continues with its own raven population control. It removes raven nests and destroys their eggs during the sage grouse nesting season, which runs through the spring. So far, five nests have been removed this season.
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