The Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area and the tens of thousands of cranes that visit it each year are facing a looming threat from a hog factory being built near the area. In the previous entry “The Problem with Pigs at Jasper-Pulaski”, I touched on a recent article that brought to light the disturbing lack of concern by the local government over the effects this operation could have on people and wildlife in the area. The project is being allowed to continue despite a 1,000-signature petition against it and Jasper-Pulaski’s designation of Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society. Residents have appealed to the State of Indiana Animal Health Board, requesting an environmental impact report be completed to assess the damage the hog factory could have on the area’s residents and wildlife.
On December 7, I received a couple of emails from residents that live in the immediate area. The first from Marcella Marlatt, who also emailed me the original article I wrote about in the last post. Marcella expressed her concerns.
I’m Marcella Marlatt, and I am an adjoining landowner to the proposed site. My husband and I have lived here for 39 years. We own 80 acres of which, our shallow well will be within 75 ft. of the field where this hog farm plans to inject this manure. We have been able to have the crane migrate all around us—on our farm, right at our back door. They feel very much protected and thrive in this area!
Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife was recently honored by being designated as IBA (Important Bird Area) in November 2005. This means it is one of the most significant staging area for Sandhill Cranes in the world; in fact, virtually the entire Eastern population of the “Greater” subspecies of this bird stops at this site during fall migration! This proposed area provides necessary diurnal feeding grounds for migratory cranes to continue south.
More than 20,000 individual cranes amass in this area during the autumn season, and about 30,000 visit to watch them. The consequences of an accidental release of bacteria or toxin could have a severe impact on wildlife health.
We have major concerns from the Audubon Society who have invested decades of research and experimentation on these birds. They, along with our whole neighborhood know how important wildlife areas and wetlands are to both the cranes and human well-being.
I was appalled to read Jim Bergens’ statement saying, QUOTE….“If something were to happen to these birds,” Bergens said about the Whooping cranes, “they’re not essential to the actual wild population.” Bergens is property manager of Jasper-Pulaski area. His casual, unconcerned manner, is an insult to all the bird-lovers, and organizations around the United States. I question as to why we have him associated with such an important Wildlife Area such as this?
Later in the day, I received a second email from another resident, Karen Myers. Her email also included some strong points.
I moved here to live with my husband 6 years ago. We have a little boy and a Labrador puppy who both enjoy playing outside. Being originally from Northwestern Ontario (Canada) myself, I grew up deep in the bush with a healthy respect and admiration for nature, something I’ve done my best to pass on to our son.
It’s interesting to note that hunters are not allowed to shoot Sandhill Cranes in our area, a fact for which I personally am very glad ...and yet an industrial farm operation is allowed to potentially destroy 500 acres of their habitat and put the lives of tens of thousands of cranes at risk with a massive operation of this size, on land adjoining an 8,000 acre State game reserve teeming with other wildlife.
The operation will be spreading tons of untreated hog sewage, potentially loaded with growth hormones, antibiotics and deadly pathogens on those 500 acres—habitat used by all manner of wildlife species and precious feeding grounds to tens of thousands of Sandhill Cranes each year.
It’s difficult to explain to a little 5 year old boy why protecting our soil, our water, our air, our forests and our precious wildlife is so important when he will be witnessing first-hand how little his own State/Country does to protect them, too.
I’m still in shock and can’t quite believe the USA government and industry could heartlessly turn their backs on the wildlife in this Region without so much as even one environmental impact study to ensure no harm will come from this operation.
Thank you for hearing our story and bless you for caring.
On her personal blog, WAHM Diary, Karen covers a lot of the dangers associated with the waste and byproducts produced by pig factories. There’s too much information to go into detail here, so go read it for yourself. It’s quite an eye-opener.
In her email, Karen brings up a good point about what little the government is doing to protect the area. And that’s what’s bothering me the most. No environmental impact report has been required for this facility to be built. If a credible EIR was conducted and concluded that there would be no negative impact to the area, its inhabitants, and wildlife, then the hog factory should allowed to be continue. But it doensn’t seem like anyone knows, or wants to disclose it. When the manager of Jasper-Pulaski was asked about what sort of research has been conducted, he responded “No direct research.” So what are the harmful effects, and what’s the mitigation plan if there are problems? Maybe the State of Indiana Animal Health Board will help to make sure those are determined.
It’s also sad to see how little press this issue has received. The only article that really challenged the decision to allow this pig factory was on a website that removes its stories after a day. And where’s the National Audubon Society? Shouldn’t they be doing something to help protect their newly-designated Important Bird Area? I’m over 2,000 miles away from Jasper-Pulaski and I haven’t been there yet, but I still feel the need to help protect it. I was raised to respect nature; I enjoy it and appreciate it. The cranes and other wildlife that enjoy, appreciate, and rely on Jasper-Pulaski could use a little help. Perhaps if this issue got more national recognition, politicians would feel more pressure to do what’s right and research the problem with pigs at Jasper-Pulaski. The government wants to spread manure, but you can help the cranes by spreading the word.
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