Ethics Failure!

You can add my name and voice to the many people who have been outraged over the unnecessary collection by LSU of a Crowned Slaty-Flycatcher in Louisiana, a 1st North American record.  Those who collected the bird, noticed it was “fat”, meaning in good health and while it was quite possible the bird was going to move on, it did not give the researchers any right to kill the bird.

Now I’m not opposed to the netting of vagrants, I think a lot could be learned by capturing, banding and taking feather, tissue or blood samples from vagrants, all of which can be done without causing significant harm to the bird.  Since Crowned Slaty-Flycatcher is not a species covered under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in North America, the researchers in the field did not have to have permission or any kind of special permit to collect the bird.  While they may have been in their legal rights to collect the bird, both the researchers and the Museum which accepted the specimen, in my opinion failed ethically.

Now Museums collect things all the time, but often what makes it into their collections are already dead birds, from window strikes, car collisions etc.  Vagrants are often collected too, but again often after they have already died.  What I think makes a lot of birders mad in this case, is that the bird in question was healthy, albeit very, very lost.  There was no need to collect the bird, especially after some very good digital photographs were taken.  They could have even banded the bird, confirmed the ID, taken some really good photos and then let it go, but the researchers got greedy and I’m sure became more excited about the paper they were going to publish in the ABA than about the health or life of the bird at their mercy.

Other Blogs with similar Views:

And the ABA article (in PDF format)


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