Collecting birds

To: "birding-aus" <>
Subject: Collecting birds
From: "Tony Russell" <>
Date: Tue, 29 Jul 2003 12:26:23 +0930
Morning all, I have an unpleasant query to discuss.
I understand ( but do not condone) the occasional issuing of permits to cull bird species allegedly causing economic hardship to agriculturalists.
However, it has recently come to my notice that late last year (2002) there was an instance in South Australia in which an uncommon ( rare for the location at which the incident took place) bird was shot and collected for the SA Museum.  The incident has been published in the SA Ornithologist, so names, location, and bird species are already in the public domain.
Enquiries revealed that the person concerned holds a permit from the Department of the Environment and Heritage  in SA to actually do this. The SA Museum can no longer afford to maintain a bird display and all skins are put away in drawers, inaccessible to the public, and this new skin has just joined the collection. 
Given the existence of a permit to shoot protected species there appears to be no question of prosecution of the person concerned but surely questions of morality and conservation need to be raised.  I know the museum people like to do skeletal and other detailed analysis but surely nowadays a photo or some video footage would have sufficed ?  And even if this had proved inconclusive, so what ? Isn't this better than the bird being killed?  Science can't be that important.  Knowledge cannot  ever be construed as being more important than life.
I would like to enquire as to whether such permits are still issued for this purpose in other states and what acceptable(?)
rationale motivates such a barbaric activity.  The story here is that rare birds can be taken like this for "scientific" purposes.
Does this mean it would have been acceptable for other rarities, like the Short-billed Dowitcher, the Hudsonian Godwit, the Arctic Tern, the Lesser Yellowlegs, the Oriental Pratincoles and Northern Shoveler at Werribee , the Blue Rock Thrush at Noosa, the Blue Flycatcher near Broome, to name some of our more recent rarities, to be similarly shot for museum collections ?  Just how barbaric are we in this day and age ?!
I recognise that the above represents the age old conflict between emotional /humanitarian /conservation values with alleged scientific pursuits, but isn't it time we gave the former a chance to establish some new norms of behaviour ?
Tony Russell.
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