The WSO Conservation Committee continues to remain active on a number of issues. Here is a brief summary:
We continue to monitor the current status of the Greater Prairie Chicken in the state. We are awaiting a report that evaluates the current status and proposed actions for this species.
The Kohler Co.’s proposed Black River Forest golf course has received great attention of late from the committee, with extensive effort from both Michael John Jaeger and Diane Packett. Both presented recommendations to be addressed in DNR’s pending Environmental Impact Statement on the course proposal. They worked together with editing from the rest of the committee to produce a written document that has been submitted to the DNR.
The committee has reviewed the recently released Department of Natural Resources draft of the master plan for the Sauk Prairie Recreation Area. It is an area that long has been recognized for its unique ecological value for Wisconsin birds. The committee has provided further comments to the DNR.
WSO Vice President Michael John Jaeger and I met with DNR officials regarding the expansion of a railway line in the La Crosse area and the incidental take of nesting Black Terns. It appears to be a relatively low concern issue, but we need to evaluate this more closely after the work has been done. We continue to monitor incidental take permits as they are requested.
We are collaborating with the Education Committee to work on an outreach project addressing ethical birding and the potential negative impacts of human interactions with wildlife. Though our committee generally recognizes this as an education issue more than a pure conservation issue, we do recognize the conservation impacts of human/wildlife interactions (especially on rare species) and hope to contribute positively to this issue.
We also spent a great deal of time addressing proposed budget cuts and loss of science positions at the DNR. We attempted to educate our members on these issues with emails and an article for the Birder. We encouraged members to become informed and to reach out to their local politicians.
We authored several Sandhill Crane articles for the Badger Birder aimed at informing members about the proposed hunt and their rights to voice their opinions at Conservation Congress hearings.
We continue to network with other conservation organizations, to analyze other major threats to birds (such as window strikes and cats) and to work to bring our organization to the forefront of bird conservation issues in our state and beyond.
We are looking for ways to keep WSO members better informed on issues. To this end, Mary Korkor presented at the annual convention.
Andy Cassini, WSO Conservation Committee Chair