This has to be one of the most egregious incidents of wildlife destruction I’ve heard of in recent times. A farmer has admitted to destroying an entire colony of pelican nests. 2,400 eggs and chicks were destroyed by a farmer who complained that the colony was destroying his crops.

Pelicans are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, a federal law.

Farmer ‘snapped’ in anger at pelican colony.
Kansas City Star

Update: Craig L Staloch received payments totaling $605,466 from 1995 through 2010

http://farm.ewg.org/persondetail.php?custnumber=A06321980

Regardless of whether the subsidies were meant to compensate him for losses to pelicans, it seems that this guy has been getting plenty of taxpayer help over the years. He probably could have applied for disaster subsidies for this too. Instead, it appears that he decided to take it into his own hands.

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About The Author

Ken Cole

Ken Cole, Buffalo Field Campaign‘s Executive Director, is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He was formerly the Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project.

42 Responses to Farmer ‘snapped’ in anger at pelican colony

  1. avatar Nancy says:

    Be interesting to know when the lines of communication broke down between this farmer & the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources if the situation had been on going for 3 years. Should someone from the MDNR have been looking at the bigger picture here? Valuable nesting sites vs 155 bushels of soybeans?

  2. avatar Paul says:

    Wow, this act was flat out psychotic. A misdemeanor? If this guy can “snap” and go off like this what will he do next? A message needs to be sent that acts like this are not going to be tolerated. Unfortunately, the penalty for what he did will amount to nothing more than a slap on the wrist even if it is the max. I think he should be charged with one count for each nest, egg, and chick that he destroyed. That would sent the right message.

    • avatar wolf moderate says:

      It was private property and the government wasn’t doing anything to remedy the situation. He’s spent $20,000 on birds that he doesn’t even like. What did the Minnesota DNR spend? Put up a fence was there idea? How about you Mrs. Bureaucrat put up a fence to protect my private land from your protected species, which is ruining my land. Geez. Leased or not doesn’t matter.

      It’s obviously sad that he did it, but why does the government want to protect all of these species, yet when they affect PRIVATE property they do not assist? The private property owners do not want these protected species on there property in most cases.

      • avatar BackScatter says:

        The birds had been nesting at that colony since at least 1995. Why did he rent that plot of land if it was obviously not useful for his needs?

      • avatar Immer Treue says:

        Wolf Mod,

        Evidently something was in the works, as a second trip was made, unfortunately the day after the individual took things into his own hands, after he was forwarned not to.

        Too much like this going on as of late, that just because one don’t like something, they take things into their own hands, and break the law. This equates to being a criminal.

      • avatar catbestland says:

        He rented that land. After the first few times it happened, he could have decided to rent land elsewhere.

      • avatar Mike says:

        Sad post, WM.

    • avatar jon says:

      what a piece of work this farmer is. He should be fined thousands of dollars and be thrown in jail for his destruction of wildlife. It’s pretty pathetic that a lot of these people who commit crimes against wildlife almost always get slaps on the wrists.

  3. avatar Mal Adapted says:

    Wolf Moderate:

    It’s obviously sad that he did it, but why does the government want to protect all of these species, yet when they affect PRIVATE property they do not assist?

    Did you miss this?

    Pelicans are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, a federal law.

    The U.S. Constitution establishes the rule of law. Why do you hate America?

    • avatar wolf moderate says:

      This is precisely my point-
      “Pelicans are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, a federal law.”

      He spent $20,000 of his own property due to this Federal Law. If the Feds are going to pass these laws they should be ready to pay up when there protected species ruin PRIVATE property.

      “Over the last three years they have cost him $20,000 in expenses and lost revenue, he said. When he asked for help, state wildlife specialists suggested a fence to protect his crops, Kohlmeyer said.”

      3 years and $20,000 on a bird! It’s too bad that it took 3 years and a Misdemeanor to remedy the situation. I put the blame on both the Minnesota DNR and the Land Owner (Leasor)
      Mal Adapted,

      I love America, just hate most people that reside here lol. These programs and “Acts” are going away anyhow. In the coming months and years we won’t be able to afford them. Continue on…

      • avatar matt says:

        the law isn’t required to pay you if you would make more money by breaking the law. that is completely idiotic.

      • avatar Jon Way says:

        “These programs and “Acts” are going away anyhow. In the coming months and years we won’t be able to afford them. Continue on…”

        Spoken like a Republican lawmaker. Get rid of the stuff that are inconvenient to me – yet preach small gov’t by keeping what I want….

      • avatar Connie says:

        It would be interesting to know the date the farmer rented the land vs. the date the pelicans became protected.

      • avatar JB says:

        Wolf Moderate:

        The Migratory Bird Treaty Act is a bit different from other federal law. It was enacted AFTER the President of the United States treated with England (on behalf of Canada) following a 1916 convention. The Presidents power to treat with other nations is not in question–even with the current conservative court.

        Note, this isn’t some new law passed by hippie environmentalists in the 1960s. It came about because the sum total actions of many individuals (like this farmer) were causing numerous extinctions of migratory birds.

  4. avatar Wolfy says:

    I don’t know what is scarier: this nut-case doing such an audacious act or people who support what he did?

  5. avatar rea says:

    If you read the article closely, you’ll see that this guy rented the land for farming, with a pelican colony already on the land. Don’t give us this horse manure about destruction of private property–this guy was trying to destroy something that belongs to all of us, for his private profit.

  6. avatar CodyCoyote says:

    Before I send this farmer to Hades, I’d like some more information ; some context. What was he like otherwise ? What’s his record of behavior towards other plant and animal species ? Is he a Loner , or does he belong to or associate with other agrarians with similar frustrations or concerns? Tea Bagger ? Anarchist ? Money problems ? Certified Wingnut ?

    The act speaks for itself. The circumstances and motivations behind it—not so clearly or loudly ( yet). The destruction of the Pelican brood colony seems grossly disproportionate to any real or imagined impacts the birds had on the farmer personally.

    I cannot speak for Minnesota, but here in Wyoming ( which is 50 percent federal or state public land ) ALL wildlife is held in the people’s trust and is also public ” property” if that isn’t too much of a stretch to get small minds around. The wildlife all belong to the people, even if they weren’t born here or die here but merely migrate here in season.

    It took a long while, but Wyoming Game & Fish now has by state law the right to enter upon private property in the interests of wildlife. With probable cause , of course. It’s used judiciously.

    And they never know when they might have to deal with a latent psychopath.

    • avatar SEAK Mossback says:

      Cody Coyote –

      I’m glad still has that tradition in law. I think some of the comments above show the Catch-22 that conservation of wildlife and endangered species currently faces in the U.S. On one hand, conservatives hold private property rights sacrosanct and always make seemingly reasonable arguments for compensation for any damages and inconvenience created by the public’s wildlife. On the other hand, they adamantly oppose general government spending for such programs or for public acquisition of important habitat, and even propose that additional public land be sold off to private hands. All in the interest of reducing unnecessary and unaffordable government expenditure and solving our terrible fiscal problem, of course. By alternately insisting on having it both ways, they are essentially saying wildlife is not something in which they see any value.

      If wildlife conservation is going to happen, somebody is going to have to bear some burden to make it happen. If society has no right to some level of protection for endangered species, etc. on private land, then there needs to be a way to move key habitat out of private ownership. But current politicians are essentially saying “I don’t believe there should be any private or general societal responsibility to for it.” However, they seldom say it that way at one time — it depends on whether they are currently advocating for (a) absolute property rights, or (b) for slashing government spending (while cutting taxes).

      Ironically, politicians and officials who espouse absolute property rights are probably some of the same ones who have happily trampled private property rights (using local laws) to kill wildlife they don’t like, including forcibly coming on a ranchers’ property and poisoning prairie dogs, in the public interest — with the real goal of thwarting extension of the black footed ferret to its former range. It’s amazing how quickly the public interest can cross a property line, if it’s “your” public interest.

      I do sympathize with people who have issues with expanding wildlife and believe the government should be sensitive to the effects. Sensitivity and help in encouraging tolerance is always going to be important. However, there is a huge amount of hypocrisy, particularly in the circular Catch-22 stance espoused by conservative property rights advocates. They should just be honest and say “I don’t support the existence of any species or population that can’t directly and fully carry its own weight in our dollars and cents economy. That’s my position on the environment and wildlife conservation. In other words, don’t bother me with anything doesn’t directly benefit my wallet or space between my easy chair and the paint on my walls or my animal-proof property fence. That’s my core value as an American conservative”.

      Republicans should just tell us if they are the enemy of our wildlife heritage.

      • avatar Savebears says:

        I am a Republican and I am not an enemy of our wildlife heritage, perhaps if I was, I could make a living!

      • avatar wolf moderate says:

        “However, there is a huge amount of hypocrisy, particularly in the circular Catch-22 stance espoused by conservative property rights advocates.”

        That is an excellent point SEAK and that is why I enjoy your thoughts. I hadn’t thought about WHERE the money would come from to pay the farmer. I guess there could be another fee that pays private land owners/users for any damage due to the governments actions/inactions. Who pays? Not sure, maybe up the fees to the surounding “bird watching” areas or something along those lines.

        My point was that it isn’t “fair” that farmers have to pay out of there pocket for pet projects that the government decides needs to happen. There are millions upon millions of acres that animals and birds have to live on (BLM, FS, State lands, etc). Migratory birds are a different story, but still see no reason for the DNR to take 3 years to come to a decision (if that is indeed how it happened).

        • avatar catbestland says:

          wolfmoderate said, +”My point was that it isn’t “fair” that farmers have to pay out of there pocket for pet projects that the government decides needs to happen.”+

          How did this farmer have to pay? He rented the land for several years. He could have rented elswhere especially after the pelicans became a problem. On the contrary it seems HE is the one who was paid well. I hope they throw a very heavy book at him. Or drop one off the court house right onto his head. I have an old dictionary that is about 9 inches thick. It must weigh agout 10 lbs. I would donate it for that purpose.

  7. avatar Alan says:

    $15,000.00 fine and six months in jail are slaps on the wrist. This guy should go to jail for a very, very long time.

  8. avatar Ken Cole says:

    The MBTA was enacted in 1918. I can say with 100% certainty the his farming activities did not precede the protection of the pelicans.

    • avatar Connie says:

      So then the farmer knew the pelicans were there when he rented the land – he deserves harsh punishment.

  9. avatar Nancy says:

    Another article about the incident:

    http://blogs.citypages.com/blotter/2011/09/craig_staloch_m.php

    The comments below the article were interesting (the one about the hairdresser 🙂

    and this one if its true:
    This guy has received over $600,000 in farm subsidies in the last 15 years…. plus a few choice words

  10. avatar Mike says:

    There is something deeply wrong here. When someone “snaps” they usually come back to earth after a few minutes. A sane person with a temper flare would realize they were wrong as they dug into the process. Killing all 2,400 eggs and chicks requires sustained madness.

    In my opinion, Minnesota needs to take a look at how dangerous this guy might be.

  11. avatar Ken Cole says:

    To those who say that this farmer should have been compensated for the loss of his crops by the pelicans. Well…….

    Craig L Staloch received payments totaling $605,466 from 1995 through 2010

    http://farm.ewg.org/persondetail.php?custnumber=A06321980

    Regardless of whether the subsidies were meant to compensate him for losses to pelicans, it seems that this guy has been getting plenty of taxpayer help over the years. He probably could have applied for disaster subsidies for this too. Instead, it appears that he decided to take it into his own hands.

    Throw the book at him.

    • avatar mikarooni says:

      Throw the book at him and make sure that the fines exceed the 600K he got plus interest. Then throw the second volume, of any book just pick one of about the right heft, at wolf moderate.

    • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

      We see farmer or rancher after rancher complaining about their losses because of the “damn wildlife” of one sort or another.

      I’m so glad the Environmental Working Group (EWG) created the Farm Subsidy data base to show how most of these complainers are financially propped up by government money. To them, no doubt, they regard these huge payments as the normal way things work. That’s is because they have received them for so long, but they forget, or never realized, that 99% of the population doesn’t get benefits like this.

      To the outsider, though these figures are shocking. That’s good!!

    • avatar aves says:

      Thanks to Ken Cole for finding that info on subsidies the farmer received.

      Unfortunately, the MBTA states that upon conviction for the illegal take of migratory birds a person “shall be fined not more than $15,000 or be imprisoned not more than six months, or both.” This provision is clearly ill equipped to deal with a slaughter of this magnitude, but $15,000 and 6 months in jail is currently the best we can hope for.

  12. avatar catbestland says:

    What kind of evil has to possess a soul to cause him to behave like this? I try to imagine the hate surging through someone as they actually deliver the blows that so brutally snuff out the life of something so innocent but my brain shuts down and I can’t even envision it. Maybe I’m glad about that. This guy aimed his weapon 2400 times at least. That is a rampage. Why wouldn’t he be considered a threat to his community?

    • avatar Paul says:

      Catbestland, I am sure that I will get flamed for being an “animal rights wacko” for saying this but that is the case all over this country. In the view of the law and much of society animals are nothing more than property or “things.” The fact that what this guy did is a misdemeanor illustrates that. Look at the Michael Vick case. He was not sent to prison for the act of fighting and killing the dogs, he was sent for RICO violations related to gambling on the fights. That was the felony, not the brutalization of the dogs. It has been proven time and time again that violence against animals is often a precursor to violence against humans. For a person to commit a violent act against a species of animal over 2,000 times in one instance it shows what this guy is capable of. I wonder what will be said after his slap on the wrist if he “snaps” again and this time kills a group of people?

  13. avatar CodyCoyote says:

    Great factoid: the $ 600,000 the perp recieved in ag subsidies , averaging over $ 40k per year. THAT completely alters my thinking on this heinous deed

    “His” Pelicans may be gone, R.I.P. , but his Goose is cooked.

    • avatar wolf moderate says:

      I agree. That is a whole lot of government handouts. How much land does he own and lease to get that much? It’s got to be over 5000 acres or something right? At least I hope…

  14. avatar aves says:

    The verdict is in for the farmer who slaughtered 2,400 pelican eggs and chicks last year. As usual for violators of the MBTA he got off very lightly.

    “Minnesota farmer gets fine, probation for killing pelicans”:

    http://www.greenfieldreporter.com/view/story/47dc82bf71b34a9dac29e05c6dbeaf86/MN–Protected-Pelicans-Destroyed/

    • avatar Immer Treue says:

      What he did was wrong, in particular because the agent told hime the day before to leave the eggs/nests alone. 2 years probation and $12,000 fine… I don’t know if that is light, but in regards to the number of birds he destroyed, it does seem a bit on the lighter side of what could have happened.

      At least he did get nailed for the sensless slaughter of wildlife.

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