Tag Archives: falconers

fence collisions and sage grouse

The following is the beginning of a piece by Cat Urbigkit that showed up on Stephen Bodio’s Querencia blog yesterday:

Making headlines across the West of late is a two-page preliminary report issued by a Wyoming Game and Fish Department biologist noting that barbed wire fences pose a collision hazard to Greater Sage Grouse. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to meet its court-ordered February deadline to determine if sage grouse should be granted Endangered Species Act protections, so the report will come into play there. Those who oppose livestock grazing on public lands are also latching onto the report as another reason to rid the western range of its agricultural industry, and its associated fences.

But everyone might be reading more into the report than it merits. WG&F biologist Tom Christiansen noted it all began when two separate falconers provided incidental reports that grouse had been injured or killed on the top wire of certain fences located near important grouse areas. The area is just to the southeast of where we ranch, in the border area of Sublette and Sweetwater counties. This area is believed to have one of the largest concentrations of sage grouse on the planet. It’s falconer Steve Chindgren’s stomping grounds (the falconer who is the subject of Rachel Dickinson’s Falconer on the Edge).

According to Christiansen’s report, “One of these falconers subsequently began marking such fences with aluminum beverage cans in a volunteer effort to reduce these mortalities.” (Click here to read the rest of the post . . .)

If you are not familiar with this blog, I urge you to check it out. Several people post regularly including Cat Urbigkit, Matt Mullenix, and Steve Bodio and the topics range from falconry to coursing dogs to natural history.


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more on bird strikes

Everyone’s jumping on the bird strike bandwagon — “it’s a problem waiting to happen,” “risk of catstrophic collisions with planes is rising” — but this is a man-made problem. Look at the siting of airports on the edges of marshy swampy lands that provide wonderful habitat for birds. Look at the explosion of the Canada geese population because people insist on creating lovely expansive lawns and golf courses that geese love. Couple that with the downtick in hunting and, yeah,  you’ve got a problem.

Here’s a neat chart:


Large birds (over 4 pounds) involved in the most collisions with aircraft since 1990:

Bird Collisions with aircraft
Canada goose 1,152
Turkey vulture 354
Great blue heron 220
Bald eagle 111
Sandhill crane 77
Snow goose 75
Double-crested cormorant 60

Sources: U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Federal Aviation Administration


I predict this will be a boon for falconers who want to fly birds at airports. It’s also a great opportunity for dog handlers and species like border collies who herd and chase by instinct. At least 20 airports already use dogs to control the wildlife.

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