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Butler County's great daily newspaper

Response to ‘For the birds’

I am writing in regard to the article, “For the birds,” on page 2 of the Monday, Jan. 10 edition of the Butler Eagle. I am writing to dispel some incorrect facts that were quoted from Chris Kubiak.

He states that the decline of the ruffed grouse is due to climate change destroying the birds’ food supply and interfering with their ability to reproduce. Unfortunately, he is wrong in regard to the decline of the ruffed grouse.

In studies done by the Pennsylvania Game Commission and the Ruffed Grouse Society, there are a couple of significant reasons for the decline.

One factor is due to the West Nile virus affecting both adult birds and their young, which has had great impact on survival rate.

The second largest reason is a change in habitat. The bird thrived throughout the last century as the state’s forests were cut down and the new growth that sprung up creating the much-preferred early successional forest habitat, which is needed for the birds to survive.

The other incorrect fact is in regard to the raven.

The statement that they are returning to their old region here in Western Pennsylvania isn’t entirely true either as the raven’s range, according to Cornell University, is the Appalachian Mountains, and the statement that unregulated hunting is causing the decline is also incorrect as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service strictly regulates hunting on migratory birds and has been since the early part of the last century.

Again, the loss of habitat of the forest in the clear-cutting of the early 1900s affected the ravens’ population, but the regeneration of those forests is the reason why the bird has not come back and is not listed as a bird with concern of the population declining.

The annual bird count is an important tool that conservation agencies use as part of their assessment of the bird populations. The incorrect facts from the article should be highlighted.

Frank Thomas

Prospect