90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
Here and Now with Robin Young
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
Monday, October 17, 2011

Birds Survived Storms Only To Be Shot Down By Hunters

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.


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

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • birdlover

    I am outraged about the hunting of shorebirds and we should start a boycott of these islands

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PHVUTTG3EL77EY6AOLSLOXTJSU Andy Mitchell

      There has been some discussion of this in other forums. My view is that we should be careful of demonising other cultures and also of ignoring our own countries. It is quite lawful to shoot these birds in Guadeloupe. This species is endangered because of problems across its range, not just because some are shot in Guadeloupe. Thousands of shore birds are hunted in the USA each year.

      The best method of ensuring that an endangered species is not hunted is to work with the hunters – as is the case in the USA and many other countries. This work has been going on in Guadeloupe for some time and continues.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bob-Gort/100000573755301 Bob Gort

    This sad story just reinforces the conclusion that humans represent the Sixth Great Extinction on the planet.  The pressure from several forces, driven by our massive overpopulation of the planet, makes it inevitable.

    We are after some species for food and for products.  Other species are lost to habitat destruction, including such things as monoculture, pollution, global warming, and urbanization.  Still others are lost to wanton destruction for our ideas of sport, such as these birds (an even more depressing story of such hunting in the Mediterranean was reported a year or so ago in The New Yorker).

    It would be tempting to demonize the French/Mediterranean culture that supports killing millions of songbirds at critical points on their flyways, but the same wanton attitude toward killing can be found everywhere once you look for it.  Americans watch TV programs that glorify the killing of sharks.   The affluent Norwegians and Japanese don’t want to give up whale hunting, no matter what.  Affluent Chinese fund the killing of many species for aphrodisiacs or as exotic food. What chance to primates and grazing animals have in Africa with a countryside awash in AK47s and little law?  And the list goes on and on and on — the more you know, the more depressing it is.

Robin and Jeremy

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

September 16 7 Comments

Kathy Gunst Explores Community Supported Agriculture

Kathy Gunst joins Cook's Illustrated executive food editor Keith Dresser at his CSA pickup and offers recipes for the seasonal CSA fare.

September 16 11 Comments

Remembering Jesse Winchester

Jimmy Buffett remembers his friend the late songwriter Jesse Winchester, whose posthumous album is being released today.

September 15 26 Comments

A Call To Reject Corporal Punishment As Part Of Black Culture

An incident of child abuse by an NFL player has raised questions about the use of corporal punishment as a form of discipline in the African-American community.

September 15 26 Comments

Would You Pay To Get Your Kid Into A Top College?

A San Francisco company charges parents for a consulting package based on the odds their student will get into a certain university, with prices up to a million dollars.