Dave King: Amid barn swallows flap, US Fish & Wildlife’s mission remains critical

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

The public furor over the demolition of some of the buildings used by barn swallows at the Fort River Refuge in Hadley, which might permanently or temporarily displace a sliver of the global population, shouldn’t distract us from the fact that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is one of the most impactful conservation organizations around.

The service supports critical habitat for barn swallows and a myriad of other species through its acquisition and protection of grasslands in the Pioneer Valley, as well as its stewardship of 550,000 acres of National Wildlife Refuges throughout the region. The service also conducts or supports the restoration of other important ecosystems like rivers, wetlands and shorelines that support species that are actually threatened and endangered (barn swallows are considered “least concern” by the IUCN).

The service enforces core environmental regulations that protect wildlife like the Endangered Species Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Years hence, once our species has come to its senses and the importance of conservation takes its rightful place at the center of human affairs, we will all be grateful for the conserved lands and species that will remain as a result of these efforts.

The USFWS is already faced by an administration that seems openly hostile to their mission of strategic, long-term conservation. Citizens concerned about the environment might do better to direct their ire at actual perpetrators of ecological degradation, instead of our dedicated allies at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Dave King