29 May 2008, 11:14pm
by admin

The Barred Owl Strikes Again — It’s the Avian Bart Simpson!

The little dickens! The bad, bad, barred owl has been singled out again. This time the feathered fiend is being blamed for spreading avian malaria to that most pathetic of birdish species, the spotted owl. News Flash from the Dead Tree Press [here]:

Study turns up avian malaria in northern spotted owl

PORTLAND(AP) — A new study of parasites in the northern spotted owl has turned up the first documented case of avian malaria in the threatened species.

The study by San Francisco State University biologists was part of a larger investigation of blood-borne parasites in birds of prey.

Avian malaria is transmitted by mosquitoes, the same way humans are infected by another strain of the disease.

Researchers say even a single case is significant because blood parasites are an indicator of the overall health of a bird species.

They are trying to determine whether the avian malaria was introduced by the barred owl, a closely related species that has been taking over spotted owl habitat and is considered a threat to its survival.

The barred owl is a winged Bart Simpson. Whatever problems Spotty is having, it must be caused by Bart Barred Owl. So say the “researchers.”

But not to worry, the “researchers” (aka bird biologists) have the solution well in hand: barred owl blasting. That’s right, sports fans. Bird biologists, the very same bird brains who gave us the Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP), are hot to trot to blast barred owls out of the sky with shotguns. With their trigger fingers itching, “researchers” are already humping down logging roads and blasting away at owls from tailgates of pickup trucks. They call it “a redneck sport” [here].

It must be Bart Barred Owl, because who else could we blame for the utter and complete failure of the NWFP?

Since its inception in 1994, the NWFP has resulted in a 60 percent decline in spotted owls, massive megafires, and the economic collapse of rural economies in three states.

Oregon alone has enjoyed the loss of 50,000 jobs, the highest rate of unemployment in the nation, and the highest rates of business bankruptcy, mortgage in arrears, home foreclosure, and hunger! But all that suffering was worth it, right?

Well, not exactly, since the spotted owl population has steadily decreased.

But let’s not blame the bird brains who inflicted the NWFP on us. They were “researchers,” and if you can’t trust an owl biologist, who can you trust? Used car salesmen? Bill Clinton?

Interestingly, the actual research study of avian malaria in spotted owls states specifically:

[T]here is no conclusive evidence that this parasite originated from Barred Owls since it was also found in other native California owls, and may have already been present at low levels in local bird populations.

What? That seems to be a total contradiction of the Dead Tree Press News Flash.

Oh, but yes, sports fans. Check it out for yourselves. The study, Blood Parasites in Owls with Conservation Implications for the Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis) by Heather D. Ishak, John P. Dumbacher, Nancy L. Anderson, John J. Keane, Gediminas Valkiunas, Susan M. Haig, Lisa A. Tell, and Ravinder N. M. Sehgal, is [here].

These particular owl biologists screened 111 spotted owls, 44 barred owls, and 387 owls of nine other species for blood parasites (Leucocytozoon, Plasmodium, and Haemoproteus spp.). They discovered that West Coast barred owls had a lower prevalence of infection (15%) when compared to Northern and California spotted owls (S. o. caurina 52%, S. o. occidentalis 79%).

It could just as easily be that spotted owls are the infection source for barred owls, not the other way around. Or it could be that great horned owls are the source:

Spotted Owls and Great-horned Owls showed low specificity and were infected with many different parasite lineages. In addition, we found that Spotted and Great-horned Owls had many unique lineages defined as haplotypes that were not found in any other owl species (Spotted Owls=12 unique out of 17 total lineages; Great-horned Owls=10 unique out of 14 total lineages).

Or maybe screech owls?

Sequence data identified one Northern Spotted Owl with a Plasmodium parasite. The sequence differs by only one base change from a parasite isolated from one invasive Barred Owl but also other native California owls (3 Great-horned Owls, and 13 Western Screech Owls).

Note the descriptor “invasive” applied to barred owls. These researchers also had this to say:

Barred Owls pose a threat to Spotted Owls because they are more aggressive than Spotted Owls and compete for food and nesting resources [11], [20]. Expansion of Barred Owls may have additional adverse effects on Spotted Owl populations if they introduce novel infectious diseases.

However, none of those conclusions came from this research study. The researchers in this study were citing other researchers, who cited other researchers, who thought they saw something, or maybe not. There is NO CONCLUSIVE PROOF that barred owls aggressively displace spotted owls, but it’s a handy excuse to cover the asses of the nimrods who imposed the catastrophic failure of the NWFP on millions of their fellow Americans.

There is no doubt about that catastrophic failure. Even the US Fish and Wildlife Service had to admit that, in their recent Recovery Plan for the Northern Spotted Owl, released just this month after a short delay of 18 years [here].

But let’s not get picky about it. Why blame eco-nazi bird brains when we have that most invasive of scapegoats, Bart Barred Owl. Bart did it. It’s all Bart’s fault. He made the owl researchers look bad. Really, the NWFP would have worked, if not for Bart.

Obviously, shutting down the economy is always good for wildlife. The more human poverty, the better wildlife fares. And so what about the megafires that have incinerated millions of acres of forest? Better to burn those forests down than to have human beings managing them with restorative stewardship.

And yada yada yada. Bart did it. Let’s just leave it at that.

16 Jun 2008, 5:16pm
by Mike

I’ve been waiting for the obvious cogent perceptive comment here, but since it hasn’t arrived, I’ll guess I’ll have to make it myself.

Owls don’t spread avian malaria; mosquitoes do! Avian malaria is not the Owl Kissing Disease. It doesn’t spread by owl-to-owl encounters. Like any and every other kind of malaria, AM is carried by mosquitoes.

Want to stop the spread of avian malaria? Spray the mosquitoes. Works for owls just like it works for people.

What’s the best mosquito eradication formulation? Dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane, more commonly known as DDT.

That’s right, sports fans. The way to save spotted owls from avian malaria is to spray DDT. It won’t hurt the owls. DDT has no effect on owls or other raptors. It does not make them sick or make their egg shells thin, despite whatever kook propaganda you might have heard.

DDT could save all types of owls, and many other species of birds, too, from the debilitating infections by blood parasites. Also, as a side benefit, if you want to call it that, the judicious use of DDT could save half a million human lives per year from mosquito-borne malaria.

Or we could have wild life biologists blast barred owls from the tailgates of pickup trucks. Actually, that won’t do a damn thing to halt avian malaria in spotted owls, but it will give the wild whatevers a chance to get their jollies from bird slaughtering.



web site

leave a comment

  • Colloquia

  • Commentary and News

  • Contact

  • Follow me on Twitter

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Recent Posts

  • Recent Comments

  • Meta