The good, the bad and the unforgivable

Ron SteffeGood news swept across statewide newswires recently, informing the public that the American bald eagle has experienced an impressive growth in population numbers within the confines of Pennsylvania.

The Game Commission said 252 eagle nests have been confirmed so far this year, and nesting sites now occur in 56 of the state’s 67 counties. Last year 206 nests were counted in 51 counties, so the increased number this year certainly represents significant growth and expansion for America’s national symbol.

Thirty years ago, state official’s claimed only three nesting pairs of eagles were in Pennsylvania, all along the Ohio boarder in Crawford County. But in 1983 the commission sent employees to Canada to capture wild eaglets, raise them and gradually release them into the wild.

A total of 88 grown eagles were eventually released, which resulted in 25 pairs of nesting eagles in the state by 1998. From this beginning, the state now can boast of a great success story.

But like an appalling companion that never seems to go away, disturbing information always seems to hang near the good reports, and in this case, inexcusable news regarding eagles have again surfaced.

Two eagles were killed in Butler and Cambria counties back in May, the Game Commission also reported. Reward monies to help locate and prosecute the perpetrators have grown, as has the overall disgust from the public — hunting and non-hunting alike. Hopefully, the rich rewards will help solve these cases, as nothing seems to open closed mouths better than nice piles of cash.

Most alarming is a hunch Game Commission personnel sense, that these killings may have been the result of some form of sick rational some hunter felt, something akin to “These birds are killing my game, so I’m gonna kill them.”

I can forgive the bad actions of some hunters who have killed beyond limits, or broken fair chase rules, if indeed they make promise to never do those actions again, and follow through with that assurance.

I can forgive those whose illegal actions were instigated under a genuine need for food, if they can somehow realize the legal way is the best way.

But never will I forgive the person who absurdly believes that the predators of the natural world do not have a right to hunt and feed upon the varied sources of nourishment they require to survive. These are my unforgivable lot, those who cannot understand that it’s not all about us, but that we are merely a part of the ecosystem.

Categories: Pennsylvania – Ron Steffe

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