An alarming number of migratory birds that spend springtime in Idaho raising their young are turning up dead. Researchers say humans are to blame for recent losses.
They have long, curving beaks, speckled plumage that matches the grasslands they spend the spring in and a shrill call.
Since 2013, seven of 16 birds researchers fit with transmitters have been victims of suspected poaching. The most recent incident was confirmed June 11 in the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey Conservation Area where a male bird was found dead. Before that, a female was discovered shot through the wing and body June 1. A press release from Boise State’s Intermountain Bird Observatory says she was likely shot while nesting on the ground.
The Statesman reports the uptick in poaching is only happening in curlew range around the Treasure Valley. Researchers suspect the high density of people in the area paired with the common practice of target shooting could both be factors impacting the species.
The bird observatory is working with local students to draw attention to the curlew as well as informing hunters about the creature.
Long-billed curlews are federally protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Killing one is punishable by up to six months in jail and a $15,000 fine.
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