Wendy Howes: Government plan for Hadley barns will harm swallows

  • A barn swallow perches near its nest in a barn at the Fort River Division of the National Fish and Wildlife Refuge in Hadley on Friday, July 13, 2018. The barn remains on the site from the former Bri-Mar Stables. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Friday, May 03, 2019

Regarding the Gazette’s coverage of the United States Fish & Wildlife Service’s plan for Hadley’s barn swallows, the environmental assessment that has been presented blithely dismisses the gradual displacement, and potential for complete failure, of a long-term colony of barn swallows because they aren’t on the list of endangered or threatened species.

Apparently, the fact that the population of these beautiful and beneficial birds has taken a precipitous nosedive — a sign that they are in trouble — over the past 20 plus years is not reason enough to reconsider the folly an ambitious and tremendously expensive retrofit (to artificially mimic optimal light, humidity, and temperature).

The swallows were thriving in the stables the way they were. A large, generous donation for repairs was refused by USFWS. Habitat loss is one of the major drivers of bird population declines. Destruction of the former stables constitutes habitat loss, and there’s no indication that displaced birds will find enough alternative Valley buildings where they can nest.

Alteration or rebuilding on-site would be a huge gamble. Even if the USFWS plan could result in some success, what is the justification for spending huge sums of taxpayer money to satisfy USFWS desires for a swallow Trump Tower? This proposed project seems designed to benefit (some) people, not the barn swallows.

Wendy Howes


The writer is a member of the Ware River Nature Club.