Craig Staloch, Minnesota farmer, charged in pelican massacre

Categories: Animals
american white pelican.jpg
The American White Pelican is not endangered -- unless it's on Craig Staloch's land.
Craig Staloch had a bird problem. Now he has a legal problem.

Staloch's facing a single misdemeanor charge of violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act for his bird massacre, which left a flock-full of American White Pelican chicks and eggs destroyed.

Staloch was renting farmland in Minnesota Lake, near the Iowa border. His particular piece of land had become home to thousands of pelicans, which the DNR valued, and Staloch apparently did not.

Staloch called the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to ask what his "options" were, regarding the pelicans. After he got off the phone, Staloch took the one option he was told was not allowed, and tried to destroy them all.

For his killing spree, Staloch could get up to six months in prison or pay a $15,000 fine.

On May  17, a DNR specialist came to Staloch's land, a known pelican hangout, and surveyed the bird population, finding "a large number of adult pelicans, many of which were sitting on nests," according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court on Wednesday.

american white pelican 2.jpg
Despite their big beaks, pelicans are not actually a threat to humans.
Later that day, Staloch called the DNR and asked what about his "options" for the birds, and was told that the pelicans, as migratory birds, were protected and it would be against the law to harrass or harm them in any way. It's unclear whether Staloch had already done his damage, or knowingly disregarded this information, but when the DNR returned the next day they saw  Staloch's alleged crime scene.

The adult pelicans seen the day before were nowhere to be found. It got worse: When the researchers inspected nests, they found eggs that looked like they'd been "crushed by a heavy stick or a forceful object," and chicks that had died of exposure.

The researchers counted 1,458 nests, most of them with two eggs, and said that more than 70 percent of them had been destroyed.

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