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Killing Ravens to Save Desert Tortoises

November 26, 1988

I worry that your article will leave people with a bad impression of the raven.

I have lived in Lancaster for 18 years. For the same amount of time I have been fascinated with the wildlife of the area. I can honestly say that the tortoise and raven are not the only species that are suffering because of man's greed and compulsion to build.

The ravens are exceptional birds. They have been cursed with an undeserved reputation of being outlaws. They are accused of being bloodthirsty carnivores. They have been feared as a bird of ill omen, fabled to forebode death, and to bring infection and bad luck. All of these tales are untrue. Quite the opposite has been proven by science.

They can grow to be over 2 feet long, and because they are aggressive bold and curious, they can be frightening. They are friendly, but they prefer to avoid man--their only predator. They have been forced to live with us, however, as we take over more and more of their territory.

Ravens live in their own "community," and have been observed watching over and caring for one of their injured friends. I have witnessed this personally when I brought home an injured raven found in the street. Three ravens circled my home and perched in a nearby tree where they could watch their friend, who was healing in an outside cage.

I am concerned for all the desert flora and fauna, not just the ravens and tortoises, however. Pavement and cement bring doom to more and more of this area's species. As rugged and indestructible as the desert appears, it has, in fact, a very delicate ecosystem.

The upsetting of this system is not to be blamed on the animal life that has been here for eons, but should be blamed on the truly guilty--man.



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