Minnesota Farmer Wipes Out Pelican Colony

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Craig Staloch, a farmer rents acreage next to Minnesota Lake to grow corn and soybeans. Residing along the shores of the lake was also an American White Pelican colony. Staloch had complained about the birds, because their feet and droppings had ruined his crops. Staloch lost an estimated $20,000. When he asked for help from the wildlife specialists they told him to build a fence. Since birds fly Staloch thought that would be pointless.

A wildlife specialist working for Minnesota Department of Natural Resources came out to the farm to conduct a survey on the birds. The pelicans used to colonize on an island in the middle of the lake, but since they lost their nesting land they had taken to a wooded area on the southeast side of the lake, which also happened to be on the land that Staloch rented. The wildlife specialist came and realized there were more birds than she could count, and she decided she would return the next day with more people. Staloch called the wildlife specialist that night and asked if there were any options for him, for help with the birds, and the specialist told him they are a protected species and cannot be harmed. Staloch did not know they would be returning the next day.

When the wildlife specialists returned the next day (May 18th), they knew something was amiss. There were no birds from the 3,000 sized colony in the trees. There were no sounds, just utter silence. As they started to walk through the wooded areas they saw broken eggs, and when they felt the nests they were cold. Over all they discovered a total 1,458 nests and 2,400 eggs and chicks had been destroyed. Only one chick was still alive.

Staloch admitted to destroying the colony. He had snapped in a fit of anger, and the ruin of the colony was the result of that anger. This is one of the most extensive incidents against a federally protected animal. Staloch has a trial set for November 28th where he faces up to a $15,000 fine and 6 months prison time for violating the federal Migratory Bird Act. Staloch's attorney hopes to settle without a trial, and says Staloch will be the first to admit what a big mistake he made. Staloch has received threats since the incident, one threatening to do to him what he did to the birds. From The Kansas City Star.


deerhunter30's picture

WOW! This guyreally went off

WOW! This guyreally went off the deep end with this. Why didn't he just wait for the game warden to figure out the problem. Must have not been moving fast enough for him. This guy is going to have some hefty fines to pay. Hopefully he has learned his lesson. Protected animals that are killed or harmed in any way and you are caught means big trouble, lots of fines and maybe even some jail time.

Anyway, this guy harmed and killed alot of protected birds and it sounds like he will be pying the price for his actions.

Ca_Vermonster's picture

Wow!  What an idiot, if I can

Wow!  What an idiot, if I can use that word.  I am all for trying to help the guy out, and maybe the Minnesota game guys should have tried to give him a hand, there is a point at which you cross that line, and can't go back.  It stinks that these birds chose his property, but like it or not, they are there, and they are protected. 

And the worst thing is, he will only get the $15,000, and he'll probably make that back the first year of his harvest.  It's a short term loss for him, long term gain.  If it were me, and I had the choice of punishment for a guy who wiped out an entire pelican colony, I would give him $15,000 for every single egg and chick I found dead or crushed.  That, or I would find a way to seize back that land under emminent domain, which i do not agree with at all, but in this case I feel it's warranted.


hunter25's picture

While I agree that the man

While I agree that the man should have been given some indication that there would be more help or investigation coming I think snapping on this level is a bit extreme. I have snapped before myself but never did anything stupid or hurt anything. It would be interesting to know what other options he explored anyway as in many situations there is monetary payment for damage caused by wildlife in farming situations. I wonder even if there is some kind of insurance for things like this. Anyway I think he went too far before looking into all of his options and now may have to pay the price for it.

I wonder where all the pelicans went to anyway as you wouldn't think they would just leave the whole area so quickly.

numbnutz's picture

The Minnesota DNR should have

The Minnesota DNR should have responded sooner to the complaint and see if anything could have been done about the birds. However that didn't give the farmer the right to wipe out the entire colony. But here is a different look at it too. Under the protection act with most protected animals a person can kill said protected animal if it's in self defence or if defending your property. So with that I wonder if He'll get away with a slap on the hand or get the book thrown at him. If this happened in Oregon he'd get off free.( making fun of a poaching ring that now got off scott free).

SGM's picture

I agree the MN DOW should

I agree the MN DOW should have done more faster but still does not give the farmer the right to wipe out this coloney of birds. I am sure there were allot better ways to deal with the problem than how he acted. It will be interesting to see the out come of this.  

COMeatHunter's picture

That's one angry farmer

I would agree, too bad the DOW didn't try to act a bit more quickly to help this guy out.  Even if he simply thought the DOW was trying to work on it with him, he probably wouldn't have snapped quite so badly.  Or maybe he just has a short fuse and the birds days were numbered to begin with, who knows.  But what really is surprising is in ONE night he cleans out the entire colony.  Where are the 3000+ birds?  Wouldn't you still expect to see them hanging around the ruined nesting grounds?  If he killed them, you'd think 3000 pelicans would be tough to hide too.  That was one angry farmer.

Retired2hunt's picture

  Hmmmm... They will most


Hmmmm... They will most likely settle this one out of court.  I would certainly use the failure or the MN DOW to provide an absolute and real direction on correcting the issue as my basis for taking matters in my own hands.  Since bringing it to their attention and nothing definite was provided as a reasonable correction thus the means for taking action into their own hands is the reasonable action.  $20,000 in loss of crops plus lease $ on the property versus $15,000 fine plus court costs... seems like a wash to me.