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Targeting raven eggs to save desert tortoises — what could go wrong?

Targeting raven eggs to save desert tortoises — what could go wrong?
Biologists use a drone armed with the squirt intended to blast raven eggs with oil near Barstow on May 28. (Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Your report on the U.S. Geological Survey’s plan to intervene in the desert ecosystem for tortoises and against corvids presents ravens as sinister “strutting” predators who must be suppressed using — what else? — drones as weapons of choice, all described in language replete with military metaphors of “war” and “shock and awe.”

This plan repeats a traditional American ecological error: the conviction that certain ubiquitous species can be “controlled” or “culled” without risk because “there are so many.”

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Massive ubiquity did not help buffaloes, grizzly bears or timber wolves; nor will it protect corvids.

When the West Nile virus began decimating birds in north Los Angeles, corvids were not spared. (I found one dead, wings outspread, floating in my swimming pool in 2004.) Those who love and respect corvids can only hope that the USGS will reject this environmentally disastrous attempt to save one species at the expense of another.

Leigh Clark, Granada Hills

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