Bird Conservation photo

Utah birdwatchers are trying to close a popular public space to hunting because they’re mad that hunters scared off a rare (for that area) duck. Seriously. But of course they’re framing it as a “safety” issue.

From this story on

A harlequin duck, a species rarely seen in Utah, visited Antelope Island’s causeway in September. Two weeks after it first arrived, a few more showed up to keep her company, including a male. However, the day after Thanksgiving, the ducks were gone. Local birders, a nickname for birdwatchers, are upset about how the ducks were easily hunted from the causeway. The birders want to change the law allowing duck hunters to fire their guns in such a popular tourist area.

“The Utah birdwatching community now wants to protect this birding gem from hunting,” said Robert Mortensen, 34, of Bountiful. “We are not opposed to hunting generally, but there are specific areas that are worth protecting by implementing hunting restrictions.” Mortensen said this is not a case of birders versus hunters, but a situation in which the birders do not want hunting in such a public area. The causeway hosts loads of runners, cyclists and international visitors, Mortensen said, making the area a dangerous place for shooting anyway. Mortensen said the ducks were spotted the morning of Nov. 25, a day when several birders and hunters were roaming the causeway. Birders who were there that day believe a hunter shot at the rare ducks._

Has anyone ever been accidentally shot by a duck hunter in that area? If not, I’d say it had less to do with safety and more to do with wanting to lock hunters out of a traditional public hunting spot. Thoughts?