Sunday, January 20, 2008

Yes, Virginia, There *WAS* A Snowy Owl, But The USDA Killed It!!!

Turns out we were misreading the USDA "Kill List" a bit, the most recent numbers available are from 2006, not just 2005.

One thing that stood out to us was the Snowy Owl killed in Virginia in 2005. We thought that might have been the famous Dulles Snowy (supposedly a first Virginia state record), but we Googled a bit and that bird was in 2006. But when we looked at the 2006 Kill List, there is again a Snowy Owl listed as having been killed in Virginia. About the only reason (we're not saying it is a good reason) you could give for killing a Snowy Owl would be to prevent an aircraft strike. So this brings up two pertinent questions:

1) How many Snowy Owls are in Virginia annually? If the Kill List is correct, the Dulled bird was not the first record in the Commonwealth (we know there are some old records but the 2006 bird was said (ibcorrectly?) by many to have been a state-first); and here's the $64,000 question:

2) Did the USDA kill the famous 2006 Dulles Snowy Owl???

It should be pretty easy to answer the second question. Virginia birders/bloggers, just go to the USDA Wildlife Services web site, find the FOIA contact info (it's on there, even though the buttons didn't work for us, you may have to mail your request in) and request any and all information, documents, correspondence, etc. relating to the killing of a Snowy Owl in Virginia in 2006. (Throw in 2005 and 2007 for good measure.) That is a pretty specific request that should easy to respond to.

And let us know the response, or of they give you any problems with your request.

If that works, we will be recommending that all of our readers look at the Kill List and send an FOIA request regarding birds that were killed in their own states.

1 comment:

Smilodon said...

I've seen three Snowy Owls in Virginia, all at airports (in 1994, 1997, and 2006). And without researching, I can recall two other sightings right now at 6:13 am. The famous 2006 Snowy Owl was present for some weeks, I believe into March? (Don't make me research that, it's too early!) I saw it in January.

We are of course assuming that all identifications are correct...