Friday, November 18, 2005

Whooping Crane Sighting in Indiana Today!

Great news for all the bird lovers watching the progress of the Whooping Crane migration right now...

A total of 4 whooping cranes were sighted by John Kendall at 8:15 a.m. from the Observation Tower on the Jasper-Pulaski Fish & Wildlife reserve! A quote from his email:

"Whooping Cranes sighted at Jasper-Pulaski -- At 8:15 am, I sighted 4 Whooping Cranes on the ground from the Observation Tower. One bird was initially with a large floc of Sandhills on the ground and the other 3 came in a short time later. As of a couple of days ago, half of the reintroduced birds from previous years were still in Wisconsin and as predicted, the cold front is moving them through our area."

This is such wonderful news for me personally, being originally from Canada.

Unfortunately, the sad news is that the new hog factory farm (CAFO) is also under construction less than 2-1/2 miles southwest of the exact location where the whooping cranes were seen.

Much of the wind in our area comes from the southwest... which will spread the fumes (and related toxic gases, if any) emitted from that factory clear across the exact path -- straight towards the Observation Tower itself.

So much work has gone into bringing back migratory whooping cranes in the Eastern part of the USA (and Canada) will be sad to see them and their habitat put at risk by such a factory in that location.

To think that November 1/2005 ...just a few short weeks ago... this area received its official International IBA (Important Bird Area) designation from the Audubon Society ...and only 2 weeks later, November 14/2005, the Jasper County BZA approved the construction to continue on a 2,496-head genetically engineered hog farm factory... I just can't believe how crazy that is!

To be fair, I don't think IDEM had all the details they needed before they issued the factory its "special exception permit" givng them the green light. I wish they knew about the BIG PICTURE here, and how important this habitat is to precious birds such as the whooping cranes that visited here today.

As residents in this area, we managed to stop the factory for a short while until this Board of Zoning Appeals, but things aren't looking too good for us being able to stop them completely.

Imagine it - the excavation construction is only about 30 yards from the border of the Jasper/Pulaski Fish & Wildlife Area game reserve ...only about 3 miles from the center of the reserve's major fresh water lake/pond into which most all the surrounding tributaries and ditches feed.

And not long from now, they're going to be spreading hog manure waste on land all around that area ...antibiotic-laden waste, probably loaded with pathogens and bacteria like E. coli (which is lethal to migratory birds) and other harmful byproducts, too...

How sad is that??

We'll keep fighting it, but the DNR property manager for the J/P reserve has absolutely no sympathy for the birds or wildlife in this region, claiming the hog factory poses no threat to them. When he went up and hugged one of the people involved with the hog farm operation after the Appeals meeting, congratulating them on a victory at the court house ...well, you can just guess how much he really cares, right?

Wish us luck. We're going to need it!!

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