It has just come to my attention, dear readers, that two days ago, on Wednesday, federal agents from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Orange County, Florida, shot and killed a pair of nesting red-shouldered hawks, Buteo lineatus (pictured, photo by Bob Gress),
after they had previously removed the birds’ nest and eggs. [NOT TRUE: several readers later told me that the nest and chicks remained in place until days after the adults were killed. The chicks, of course, died.]
The birds made the unfortunate choice to nest on the grounds of a hoity-toity golf course, Villas of Grand Cypress Golf Resort, which is near Interstate 4 and south of the Dr. Phillips community. The birds, who were obviously in the nest-guarding phase of their breeding cycle, launched approximately one dozen attacks on guests staying at this playground for the rich and intolerant, holding them hostage.
“They were killed because they were inconvenient,” said Lynda White, coordinator of the Audubon EagleWatch program in Maitland, Florida.
But Mark Cox, the resort’s director of marketing (direct contact information linked), and safety manager, Warren Channell, whined shrilly that the birds posed more than an inconvenience. They whimpered that the birds began swooping down on defenseless employees and guests a few weeks ago, with the worst attack occurring last week, resulting in a guest requiring medical care.
Clearly lacking the mental capacity and moral backbone necessary to devise a reasonable and obvious solution to the problem posed by the two birds, such as relocating the hawks, providing guests with umbrellas to protect their heads or, god forbid(!), asking guests to stay farther away from the birds’ nest tree, these two adult men then resorted to typical thought-free testosterone-driven behavior that is common to eight-year-old boys with anger-management issues: they dealt with their problems by killing them.
But they are civilized and law-abiding men; asking USDA officials to “remove” the birds for them. Thoughout the decades, the USDA has developed an impressive, and rather disturbing, arsenal of lethal methods for dealing with birds and other inconvenient animals, so they were well-prepared to carry out this task.
Red-shouldered hawks are handsome birds with three-and-a-half foot wing spans. They never eat humans (not even very small ones), instead prefering to dine on snakes, frogs and insects. Although relatively common in Florida and other parts of the country, red-shouldered hawks are a federally protected species. However, it is obvious that raptors are not protected when their existence is a nuisance to the wealthy nor are they protected from the whims of government officials. Unfortunately, this government-sanctioned killing of the hawks could send the wrong message, especially in Central Florida, a rapidly-developing region where “golf course” and “resort” are several socially-acceptable descriptions for wanton habitat destruction that results in widespread pollution and human conflicts with displaced wildlife.
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