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Retired publishing executive ecstatic with the idea of spending most of his time on the coast of Maine

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Unintended Consequence

The bald eagle population of Penobscot Bay is apparently growing rapidly. We wouldn't necessarily know, for a sighting over here on the west side of the bay (away from the islands where they wisely live) is rare, lasts maybe two seconds, and is the occasion for wild whoops and comical gyrations as we press noses against the windows to follow its flight out of sight.

Also living and breeding on the islands are gulls and eiders, which boast large numbers, and great cormorants, which do not. In fact, the cormorants probably won't last the century, or the decade, for the eagles have forsaken their traditional diet of fish and now feast on tasty birds, chicks and fledglings mostly. The cormorants, because they are so few to begin with, suffer the most.

Are humans to interfere? Should we discreetly patrol the cormorants' nests, perhaps with signs advising the eagles to leave, or at least re-consider the benefits of fish? How much cholesterol in cormorants? Should we compute the eagle's RDA? Who's going to win, a magnificent warlike raptor, the symbol of America, or a lowly black water bird? If you had to save one for democracy, which would it be? Sounds like our foreign policy until recently.

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