Views of the 30-million-year-old Middle Rio Grande Rift Valley from the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge rival those of the Great African Rift Valley. Our Rift Valley is one of the top birding sites not only in North America but the world with over 400 species of birds, double that in Yellowstone National Park.
Those of us who have spent our lives restoring native plants and wildlife could rival the Bosque in co-existing with hundreds of snow geese and sandhill cranes. Instead, we have none because local farmers shoot those that land here. We purposely create habitat to protect birds who have migrated here for millions of years. They inadvertently create habitat that will destroy them.
H5N1, spread from large-scale poultry confinement operations and not migratory birds, is no excuse. Nor is this about hunting with plenty of local opportunities.
What is only a kill zone for a few individuals could be a wildlife safe passage for the rest of us, contributing immeasurably to tourism in the historic towns of Socorro and San Antonio–ideal for retirees if only we could marvel at where we find ourselves instead of wondering how we could have made a mistake.