7/4/16 – Happy Independence Day from the Harmar Bald Eagles!
As I think about freedom, the Harmar eaglets are on the verge of experiencing freedom like most of us will never have the chance to experience! Soon the eaglets will fledge and be free to roam the country (and Canada and Northern Mexico, no passport required).
And did you know that our Bald eagles are free in a way wildlife in other countries are not? In America we subscribe to North American Model of Wildlife Conservation; the concepts that contribute to this model include:
1. Wildlife is a public trust: no one person owns wildlife, rather it is held in trust for everyone, including future generations (legal foundation lies in the Public Trust Doctrine of 1842).
2. Market hunting is eliminated: market hunting led to drastic declines and extinctions of wildlife and was eliminated entirely-with the exception of the highly regulated fur trade (legal foundation was the Lacey Act of 1900, later augmented by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 and the Endangered Species Act of 1973).
3. Allocation of wildlife is by law: this means everyone has equal access to wildlife and equal say in laws regarding wildlife (it was founded in early colonial laws that protected livestock and later set a hunting season on white-tailed deer after dramatic declines in their numbers).
4. Wildlife can only be killed for legitimate purpose: George Grinnell essentially wrote the code on sportsmanship, including hunting is done for the pursuit and affords a fair chance for the game, the sportsman should seek knowledge about the animal, not profit from the killing, cause no unnecessary pain or suffering, and not waste the game that is killed.
5. Wildlife is an international resource: understanding that wildlife crosses national borders and that protections need to be multi-national to work, the founding law was the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
6. Science is the tool to discharge policy: once widespread wildlife declines and extinctions occurred early conservationists, like Teddy Roosevelt, Aldo Leopold, Gifford Pinchot, George Grinnell, and others all realized the importance of sound scientific research as the basis for wildlife management and conservation. Currently there is a push to greater educate the public about how science works, as well as the animals and ecosystems that support them, and to greater engage them in the decision-making process.
7. Democracy of hunting/egalitarianism: all of us should have the same access and opportunities to wildlife and hunting. Teddy Roosevelt and Aldo Leopold were staunch supporters of the idea that all of us should have access to wilderness and hunting, even though this concept brings together two groups who seem fundamentally opposed: hunters and conservationists. These leaders recognized that hunters and conservationists actually had the same goal: sustaining wildlife.
While this model does warrant improvement, it has been widely regarded as one of the most effective models of wildlife conservation. While these concepts are not unique to America (Canada’s laws are very similar), it represented a drastic change from the way things were being done previously.
Remember the scene from Robin Hood, where the boy is caught killing one of the Sheriff’s deer, a crime punishable by death? That was not some fantasy story, it is based on the concept that wildlife belongs to the owner of the property on which it is found. So, if the boy did cross onto the Sheriff’s land and kill the deer, he did essentially steal the deer from the Sheriff, however, if the boy had waited for the deer to walk across the boundary onto his own property, then the deer would belong to him, to do with as he pleases. Thus, the poor are excluded, because they are not property owners.
So, this Independence Day, as you celebrate your freedom, keep in mind the freedoms we allow our wildlife too!
If you would like more information about this policy, download this Technical Review by The Wildlife Society and The Boone and Crockett Club.
While the eaglets are still confined, they have expanded their world to include the near branches and far reaches of the nest itself. They head over the rim of the nest to hang out and to flap, they take their food at the edge of the nest too!
And as the eaglets have been spending more time a bit farther from the nest, Bill from PixController once again pulled the cam back a bit for us to see more of the happenings. You see that happen in this video of wingercising.
So celebrate the freedoms that wildlife enjoy, and Happy Independence Day from the Harmar Bald Eagles!