Protection for tricolored blackbirds raises fears, questions among dairy leaders

The dairy industry across the San Joaquin Valley is worried about California’s new endangered species protection for the tricolored blackbird, which nests in dairy silage fields here. And dairy leaders are disappointed because they had been trying to help save the bird for years. The questions are being researched right now, said Michael Marsh, chief executive officer of Modesto-based Western United Dairymen, representing about 800 dairies in the state. For certain, killing these birds is now unlawful under the state’s endangered species law, which has provisions for fines. The emergency listing was made last week by the California Fish and Game Commission. Now the state Department of Fish and Wildlife will review the decision and make recommendations.“We’re perplexed about this listing,” Marsh said. “Dairy farmers care about this issue. We’ve been working for many years on it. Does this mean no more collaboration to help the birds? What else does it mean?” <more>

Dec. 8, 2014 Modesto Bee