Minnesota Farmer Wipes Out Pelican Colony
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.