Raptors and prey decline. - The HuntingPA.com Outdoor Community
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post #1 of 46 (permalink) Old 03-12-2014, 02:25 AM Thread Starter
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Raptors and prey decline.

Recent copy of Outdoor news has a PA Game Commission Biologist reporting that the clean water act and protection of birds of prey as key reasons for muskrat decline. The article also states about rabbits and pheasants being easy prey. I stated this in the past and have had many say its a habitat problem. What we have seen is the drastic declines in animals that are prey of raptors. First it was the Game commission fellow that was working with the wild pheasant recovery program, stating that raptors were the major predators. Next we may hear how raptors are responsible for Lyme disease increasing in numbers, because the raptors reduced the bird numbers. As we know birds are the main predator of ticks. I guess if smallgame numbers drop too low they may have to reduce bag limits or shorten seasons so the raptors can get more.
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post #2 of 46 (permalink) Old 03-12-2014, 04:40 PM
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Re: Raptors and prey decline.

I don't think that anyone would argue that avian predators don't depress game bird populations, however the issue is a bit more complicated. If you have great habitat the game birds, and non-game birds too, have protection from predators, hence fewer of them will be taken. You could put a bounty on hawks and owls, kill 90% of them, and if you had lousy habitat you'd still have a lot of trouble maintaining a good population of game birds. If I only had a limited amount of time to devote and were given a choice of going out and shooting a few hawks or participating in a habitat improvement program, I'd choose the latter. However, that's just my opinion, and everyone else is certainly entitled to theirs.

"A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest" Paul Simon.
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post #3 of 46 (permalink) Old 03-12-2014, 08:17 PM
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Re: Raptors and prey decline.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bpottorff
First it was the Game commission fellow that was working with the wild pheasant recovery program, stating that raptors were the major predators.
Did anyone expect the major predator of pheasants in an area that is closed to hunting to be bengal tigers or perhaps great white sharks? Would it be better if the major predator was fox or coyote?
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post #4 of 46 (permalink) Old 03-12-2014, 09:26 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Raptors and prey decline.

Of course it would be better for the major predator to be a fox or coyote because these can be hunted and trapped and their numbers controlled. Because the raptors aren't controlled in any way is why they are the major predator of most small species.
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post #5 of 46 (permalink) Old 03-12-2014, 09:44 PM
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Re: Raptors and prey decline.

Food for thought..........

The creeks I used to trap muskrats with my dad on 45 years ago have the EXACT same habitat they did back then.

The water quality has improved significantly on all of them........GREATLY on some of them.

There isn't a FRACTION of the muskrats now that there were then. There were significantly MORE trappers back then competing for the rats.

Now................... when was it that avian predators got complete federal protection ?? Anybody ??

About 45 years ago.

There's also an article I read a couple years ago by the Audubon Society chronicling the drastic drop in songbird numbers. They cited the early 70's as being when numbers really started to drop.

Hmmmmm............

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post #6 of 46 (permalink) Old 03-12-2014, 11:27 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Raptors and prey decline.

Yes Strut you have it right. And when the songbirds decreased the deer tick numbers rose leading to more Lyme disease. The anti hunters want the hawks and owls to control the smallgame so they can do away with hunting. Sometimes I wander how many anti hunters are on this site, as many have similar views to raptors as the out and out anti's.
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post #7 of 46 (permalink) Old 03-13-2014, 12:34 AM
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Re: Raptors and prey decline.

Here is a video concerning quail and raptors.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9iPbi...M_gqOaxiPkcuzw

If it weren't for Bird Dogs and Upland Game Birds I would be just another Bored Old Man!
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post #8 of 46 (permalink) Old 03-13-2014, 12:47 AM
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Re: Raptors and prey decline.

Here are a couple of statistics for ya...studies have shown that feral cats kill 500 millions songbirds a year in the United States. Other studies put that number at 1.3 billion to 4 billions songbirds killed. When you add mammals that number skyrockets to anywhere from 6.3 billion to 22.3 billion birds and mammals killed by cats. But yes, keep blaming everything on hawks and owls.

For all the people that want a hunting season on hawks and owls or some sort of stupid bounty, let me ask you this...if hunting has no impact on small game populations like many studies say, then why would you think that a season on raptors will control these species.

It is the lack of habitat (as I have said on this site many times) is the reason small game populations are low...good habitat equals lots of small game to hunt.

And Strut...I hate to tell ya but no habitat is the same as it was 45 years ago.
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post #9 of 46 (permalink) Old 03-13-2014, 01:07 AM
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Re: Raptors and prey decline.

Good video and he discusses the HABITAT factors that help protect quail from avian predators. You can moan and groan all you want about raptors being protected but it isn't going to change. Something we can do is improve habitat which is effective in protecting predators from prey. As I have stated here before, you can look at Hawk Mountain's migration counts for many years and the number of birds migrating in 1974 are very close to the numbers today. Raptor populations tend to fluctuate like prey species do. The fact is prey eat predators and they have for centuries and existed in sustainable numbers long before man's influence on habitat changes came along. Maybe the number of muskrats we have is what the habitat will support. Back in the early 70s there were a lot of complaints from people with ponds from damage to dams from muskrats. Maybe we had too many back in the 70s and the number we have now is where it should be.

It's easy to blame predators for declining prey populations but improving habitat is better for everything as compared to killing predators because they are better than us at killing prey The next time you feel frustrated you can't shoot hawks, get even!! go build a brush pile!

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post #10 of 46 (permalink) Old 03-13-2014, 01:29 AM
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Re: Raptors and prey decline.

Here is a link from PGC Furbearer biologist Tom Hardisky. In the article Hardisky refers to hawks, owls and mink being big muskrat predators but he blames a change in HABITAT as the cause for the increased predation. He states the muskrat decline also started in the early 90s not 70's.

http://archives.timesleader.com/2010...y_-Sports.html

"The wildlife and it's habitat cannot speak for itself. So we must and we will." Teddy Roosevelt
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