Letters to the Editors
Saving cranes has been too costly
© St. Petersburg Times,
Editor: Re: Whoopers set for takeoff, Oct. 16 Hernando Times:
First, please allow me to express my appreciation for you allowing readers the opportunity to comment on news stories through your opinion page. This says a lot for the professionalism of the editors of the Times.
Next, while I enjoyed the well-written story by Alex Leary about the whooping cranes, as well as followup stories of their migration progress, there are some feelings I would like to express.
Having been born in 1925, I have lived all of my life under the threat of "Whooper Crane Extinction." For as long as I can remember (and that's more than 50 years), the whooper has been a national concern. In the opinion of many, a losing proposition on which millions (if not billions) have been spent over those years. Think about it.
To accommodate its whooping crane efforts, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has spent millions in federal money to acquire vast properties that have been turned into national wildlife refuges, and laboratories like the one mentioned in Maryland, and many other facilities that are kept obscured from the public, mostly for the whooper.
Concluding my point (and with no disrespect intended), according to the story, Mr. Duff and crew spent the whole of the year 2000 hatching and training a flock of sandhill cranes to follow his ultralight on a migration pattern. Since, according to the FWS, more than 500,000 sandhill cranes migrate every year, this training period must have been for the trainer, not the trainee. No problem. Money is no object.
Where in the world does the FWS secure such money? While I'm not bent on letting the whoopers go down the drain, I am concerned about other things that are so obviously needed, which could be partly corrected with such money. While we can't stop it, our World War II veterans are dying at the rate of thousands per week. Sure extinction!
Perhaps I should mention that also during my lifetime, I have seen the extinction of other important species, such as the passenger pigeon, and the world hardly noticed. The dodo bird is not gone for long, and the only ones to cry were the wind sailors of old, who had learned to enjoy their dodo bird soup. Mostly, it was the early world exploration effort that did the dodo in. If they had not been so good to eat, they may have still been thriving.
Come to think of it, that may be what happened to the whooper. They may have been just too tasty.
That brings another thought. If the FWS would dedicate one-half of each year's crop of "Billion Dollar Babies" to raising funds, it would give taxpayers a break. They could hold a "Ducks Unlimited" style whooping crane dinner, and invite Donald Trump and his billionaire friends. To my knowledge, the FWS has never made any effort to ask outsiders to assist with this project. Ducks Unlimited, on the other hand, has acquired millions of acres in top refuge lands without the aid of public money.
I'm sure that fast food franchises (perhaps Taco Bell) would be happy to work out an acceptable licensing agreement with the FWS. They would be the exclusive preparer of Whooper Tacos.
Also, if the whole goal of the FWS is to bring the birds back to our landscape, as their spokesperson stated, for what reason? Now, if they plan to have an open season in the year 2020, they should let us hunters know so we will know what it is that we are spending our millions and millions for.
The FWS didn't invent "flock leadership" with an ultralight. The Canadians showed them the way. Also, I'm sure that Joe Duff is very familiar with Rotocraft Magazine, and the many ultralight clubs that exist in this country, many of which would have been happy to provide the pilots and planes for such a worthwhile flight. These are very intelligent people, most of whom have built their own aircraft. They are American in every way. You get the idea.
Commissioners' views deserve criticism
Editor: Well, our county commissioners are at it again. They seem to be against free enterprise, trying with all their might to prevent Wal-Mart from building at its proposed site at the intersection of U.S. 19 and Spring Hill Drive, even though the store will bring a huge amount of impact fees and taxes from sales, which they say we sorely need.
Then, people are complaining about a doctor who spoke his mind after the Sept. 11 tragedy, even though many letters to the editor stated he came to this country where we have a right to free speech. Apparently that's only if he agrees with our point of view.
Now, the Southwest Florida Water Management District says we can go back to sprinkling our lawns twice a week, but Commissioner Diane Rowden disagrees and thinks things should stay the same because no one seems to be complaining.
If that is the case, I will complain.
First, a business should have the right to build on a site of its choice, if it is zoned for their type of business, and not denied that right because a few people seem to disagree.
A person should have the right to speak his or her mind on any subject, even though we may disagree, and not be condemned because of it.
And lastly, yes, I would like to sprinkle my property twice a week because I am tired of dragging a hose to water my not-completely-acceptable xeriscaped property.
Boy, that sure got a lot off my chest. I hope I haven't offended anyone. But being a second-generation American, I think I've earned the right.
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