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Outdoors Notebook: Sunlight not a contaminant harmful to Canadian birds

| Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012, 7:32 p.m.

It took nearly two years for Canada's courts to reach a decision, but they've finally ruled that reflected sunlight is not an environmental “contaminant.”

Two environmental and animal rights groups, Ecojustice and Ontario Nature, had made that charge. They took the owners of three skyscrapers — whose exteriors are mostly glass — to court, claiming that 7,000 birds died over the last decade after flying into the windows. That “negligence” violated Canada's Environmental Protection Act, they said.

The court said the groups failed to make their case.

The issue figures to be an ongoing one, though, here as well as there.

Since 2010, any new buildings or old ones undergoing extensive renovations in Canada have to be bird-friendly. Similar rules are becoming more common in this country. Christine Sheppard, bird collisions program manager for the American Bird Conservancy, said the state of Minnesota and the city of San Francisco already have bird-specific construction rules in place.

The conservancy is working with Powermill Nature Reserve, Carnegie Museum of Natural History's field station in Rector, to test “glass or glass treatments to determine what products demonstrate a lower incidence of bird collisions.”

Bass fishermen

Bass fishing is big business, with 11 million fishermen pursuing the species nationwide. Southwick Associates, a Florida-based research firm, recently surveyed some of them.

Its report showed that 56 percent of bass anglers surveyed have an annual household income of $50,000 or more, with nearly 16 percent bringing in more than $100,000 a year; 77 percent use artificial lures and baits; and more (56 percent) fish from the shore, a dock or other land-based structure than from boats.

They almost all spend money, though. The report determined that more than 98 percent of bass anglers made some kind of fishing-related purchase last year.

Predators and ducks

Trappers are a duck hunter's best fiend, it seems.

Delta Waterfowl has been doing predator management research at various sites in North Dakota and Manitoba. It found that, in Manitoba, less than 1 percent of nests successfully hatched in areas with no trapping, compared to 34 percent in places with trapping. In North Dakota, nest success rates were 28 percent in places with no trapping, 47 percent where it took place.

It takes a success rate of 15 to 20 percent for duck populations to remain stable, the group said.

Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at bfrye@tribweb.com or 724-838-5148.

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