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Biologists Blunder? 

 

Editor:

No one wants to believe that Ron LaValley and Sean McAllister would do anything dishonest and that their credibility would ever be questioned, ("The Yurok Grift," April 12). Let's take a look at the work they did for the snowy plover.

About 10 years ago the county was threatened with a lawsuit if it did not take measures to restrict public access to public beaches. Mad River Biologists proceeded to erect exclosures that were later found out to attract the very intelligent ravens and unfortunately led to the depredation of young and adult plovers.

The public was forced to dodge the ugly and hazardous symbolic fencing that took up a large part of our favorite beach. These experts said it protected the nests and young. All the while, the plover and the beach grass removal programs were intricately tied together.

Now we know the removal of the beach grass has not helped the plover in any consistent way. The recovery plan even has a picture of a nest in the beach grass (pg. 13), but until now that has been somehow overlooked. We also know from two master theses done locally that plovers adapt to human activity. Additionally the symbolic fence that still remains around the denuded area at Little River State Beach may be being used as a perch by ravens and crows. There have been no hatched chicks in that area since it was bulldozed six years ago.

Maybe the data developed by these men for the annual snowy plover reports is accurate, maybe not. Research should always hold up to honest scrutiny. One thing that remains obvious is many of the recommendations they were behind simply did not hold up. Fortunately the Fish and Wildlife Service seems to be starting to take a fresh look.

 

Uri Driscoll, Arcata

 

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