Secrecy in research

And yet vandals will have a hard time finding a nest on their own.

I have talked before about the dangers of divulging too much about information about wildlife to the wider public. This goes against my instincts as a science writer to break down the mystery of science. And yet I declined a video interview because I didn’t want to reveal too much about an animal that relies on crypsis. It’s not just poachers to be careful of. It’s people who love animals to death or people who harass wildlife out of boredom. Remember the bison calf story out of Yellowstone that was kidnapped because tourists thought its mother had abandoned it? It was later euthanized. I have had conversations with people who shoot songbirds as a way to pass the time. I’ve had to explain that the Migratory Bird Treaty protects them. They are an ecological resource shared between North and South America countries and it’s frustrating that citizens of the richest country in the treaty are killing them out of boredom. As far as nighthawks go, I’ve seen spent fireworks and broken beer bottles next to rooftop nests. One roof hasn’t had a single successfully nest active on July 4 to fledge. When I let the property manager know, he said he’s been trying to get the police to patrol the July 4th vandalism (it’s not just the roofs) but they’ve refused.

This is an idea that many scientists are grappling with.


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