JT and Junk Science

I woke up this morning and saw this great article about the peregrine falcons that are nesting above the court house and felt that today was going to be a good day…that is until I got to page 11A and saw “CHEMICAL CURSE then I knew that the JT is just indoctrinating another generation into the DDT myth.

Here is what they wrote:

“Falcons fell prey to the widespread use of DDT. The insecticide changed female falcons’ bodies so their eggs had thinner shells, meaning they broke easily when adults tried to incubate. By the early 1970s, the 300 breeding pairs in the eastern United States had disappeared. The DNR began releasing birds into Wisconsin’s wilds in 1987.”

This is a large myth!!

Here are some facts about the falcons and DDT:

  • The decline in the U.S. peregrine falcon population occurred long before the DDT years.

[Hickey JJ. 1942. (Only 170 pairs of peregrines in eastern U.S. in 1940) Auk 59:176; Hickey JJ. 1971 Testimony at DDT hearings before EPA hearing examiner. (350 pre- DDT peregrines claimed in eastern U.S., with 28 of the females sterile); and Beebe FL. 1971. The Myth of the Vanishing Peregrine Falcon: A study in manipulation of public and official attitudes. Canadian Raptor Society Publication, 31 pages]

  • Peregrine falcons were deemed undesirable in the early 20th century. Dr. William Hornaday of the New York Zoological Society referred them as birds that “deserve death, but are so rare that we need not take them into account.”

[Hornaday, WT. 1913. Our Vanishing Wild Life. New York Zoological Society, p. 226]

  • The 1950’s and 1960’s saw continuing harassment trapping brooding birds in their nests, removing fat samples for analysis and operating time-lapse cameras beside the nests for extended periods of time), predation and habitat destruction.

[Hazeltine, WE. 1972. Statement before Secretary of State’s Advisory Committee on United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, March 16, 1972; Enderson, JH and DD Berger. 1968. (Chlorinated hydrocarbons in peregrines from Northern Canada). Condor 70:149-153; Enderson, JH.. 1972. (Time lapse photography in peregrine nests) Living Bird 11: 113- 128; Risebrough, RW. 1970. (Organochlorines in peregrines and merlins migrating through Wisconsin). Canadian Field-Naturalist 84:247-253]

  • Shooting, egg collecting, falconry and disruption of nesting birds along the Yukon River and Colville River were reported to be the cause of the decline in peregrine falcon population.

[Beebe, FL. 1971. The Myth of the Vanishing Peregrine Falcon: A study in manipulation of public and official attitudes. Canadian Raptor Society Publication, 31 pages; and Beebe, FL. 1975. Brit Columbia Provincial Museum Occas. Paper No. 17, pages 126-144]

  • There was no decline in peregrine falcon pairs in Canada and Alaska between 1950 and 1967 despite the presence of DDT and DDE.

[Fyfe, RW. 1959. Peregrine Falcon Populations, pp 101-114; and Fyfe, RW. 1968. Auk 85: 383-384]

  • During the 1960’s, peregrines in northern Canada were “reproducing normally,” even though they contained 30 times more DDT, DDD, and DDE than the midwestern peregrines that were allegedly extirpated by those chemicals.

[Enderson, JH and DD Berger. 1968. (Chlorinated hydrocarbons in peregrines from Northern Canada) Condor 70:170-178]

  • The peregrine with the very highest DDT residue (2,435 parts per million) was found feeding three healthy young.

[Enderson, JH. 1968. (Pesticide residues in Alaska and Yukon Territory) Auk 85: 683]

  • Peregrine falcon and sparrow hawk egg shells thinned in Britain prior to the use of DDT.

[Redcliff, DH. 1967. Nature 215: 208-210; Redcliff, DH. 1970 J Applied Biology 7:67; and Redcliff, DH. 1967. Nature 215: 208-210]

If you’d like to read more about the Junk Science of DDT I would reccomend: 100 things you should know about DDT
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