Unfortunately, most people are unaware of a potentially volatile situation at a State Wildlife Area in Northern California. I visited Fay Slough Wildlife Area yesterday, and was shocked to learn that it had been taken over by a rogue band of outlaw raptors. Upon entry into the area, I immediately noticed several White-tailed Kites. Some were perched in trees and bushes, while others were involved in aerial reconnaissance. They claim to have hundreds of followers, but my observations confirmed only a dozen or so.
I spoke with a representative of the group, who agreed to talk with me under condition of anonymity.
I asked the kite what the group was demanding. “We want the government to stop relegating us to these small land areas,” said the spokesbird. He went on to say, “When my grandparents settled this land, we had over a hundred thousand voles and mice we raised here. Today, our herd is down to a few thousand. This livestock is our livelihood. We can’t afford to be squeezed out any more.”
I then asked why the kites saw it as their right to have exclusive use of the land. “We don’t want humans on our land any more.” he replied. “We don’t mind sharing. In fact, there are a couple of red-tailed hawks and a short-eared owl in our group. We’re actively recruiting the otters and coyotes. It’s the people we have a problem with. They divert our water, cover the land with pavement and buildings, and poison our herds.”
When I asked if the group had any intention of getting violent, the answer was vague. “We don’t want to resort to violence, but we won’t rule it out. We intend to sustain the protest as long as it takes for our demands to be met.”
As I turned to leave, I heard these parting words: “We just want things to be the way they used to be.”