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Monday, October 17, 2011

Birds Survived Storms Only To Be Shot Down By Hunters

photo
A whimbrel, which migrates from Northern Canada to South America. Two whimbrels were shot down in Guadeloupe after surviving flights through storms. (A. Levesque/Courtesy of Bryan D. Watts, Ph.D)A hunter in Guadeloupe holding birds that were shot. (A.Levesque/Courtesy of Bryan D. Watts, Ph.D)A map of the flight pattern of the whimbrel Machi, who was shot down after surviving a flight through Tropical Storm Maria. (Courtesy of Bryan D. Watts, Ph.D)A whimbrel named Machi is fitted with a transmitter. This bird and one other were later shot down in Guadeloupe after surviving flights through storms. (B. Paxton/Courtesy of Bryan D. Watts, Ph.D)

Migrating south can be harrowing for birds– there are long flights along with the risk of getting lost and bad weather.

Two whimbrels flying to South America seemed to be in the clear. During their 3,000-mile trip from Northern Canada the birds, named Goshen and Machi, managed to make it through some terrible weather – one survived Hurricane Irene, the other Tropical Storm Maria.

But it’s their pit stop in Guadeloupe that ended things for them– both were shot dead by hunters in September.

“It was really disappointing to lose those two birds,” researcher Bryan Watts told Here & Now‘s Robin Young.

Watts is Director of the Center for Conservation Biology at the College of William and Mary and is one of a team who was tracking the birds by satellite transmitter to collect information on the declining species.

“We had tracked Machi for over 30,000 miles for two years, and to lose them in that way was really disappointing,” he said.

There are laws that protect the whimbrels in North America, but when they leave the continent they’re fair game for hunters.

Guest:

  • Dr. Bryan D. Watts, Director of the Center for Conservation Biology at the College of William and Mary

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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