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July 06, 1984 - Image 6

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Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1984-07-06

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I

OPINION

Page 6
Vol. XCIV, No. 20-S
94 Years of Editorial Freedom
Managed and Edited by Students at
The University of Michigan
Editorials represent a majority opinion of the
Daily Editorial Board
The Solomon shuffle
Y ESTERDAY'S Supreme Court opinion
upholding the constitutionality of the
Solomon Amendment reached its conclusion
in a way which must have surprised even the
father of the amendment, Rep. Gerald
Solomon of New York.
The court embraced, along with other legal
absurdities, the notion that the amendment
isn't a punishment after all. The law, which
denies financial assistance to college students
who have failed to register for the draft, is in-
stead an "encouragement." Apparently the
court regards the law as a kind of reward-a
present to young men lucky enough to come of
age in this free country.
The reward they've been given in this
decision is the significant erosion of some of
their most important constitutional rights.
Contrary to explicit prohibitions in the con-
stitution, young men now face heavy economic
sanctions not for committing a crime, but for
not reporting whether they have complied
with the registration laws. Without a trial,
their fate as criminals or non-criminals is
determined on the basis of their forced
testimony. The presumption of guilt is effec-
tively shifted onto the defendant, the privacy
of millions of citizens is invaded, and every
non-registrant is forced to incriminate him-
self.
The court attempted to draw a distinction
between the "punishments" imposed by un-
constitutional bills of attainder, and the san-
ctions imposed under the Solomon Amen-
dment. Contrary to the court's logic, these
"sanctions"-which can easily result in com-
parative financial hardship for thousands of
students-are not vastly different from the
"punishments" imposed under the con-
stitutionally forbidden bills of attainder. The
principle difference seems to lie in a favorable
judicial disposition toward a given gover-
nment policy rather than in any con-
stitutionally legitimate distinction.

Friday, July 6, 1984

The Michigan Daily

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.I

Saving the peregrines:
Money, TLC, and some pidgeons

By Danie Lindley
SANTA CRUZ, CALIF.-All
creatures must adapt to survive,
but for the peregrine falcon sur-
vival may mean living in the
places populated by its relentless
enemy-human beings. As part
of a program to save this fierce
bird, scientists are introducing it
in such unlikely perches as a bank
in Los Angeles, bridges in New
York, and an Altantic city
casino.
"It's been wildly successful,"
says Brian Walton, manager of
the Predatory Bird Research
Group here. "Almost every bird
we've released in the city has
survived."
Walton, 32, is one of a collection
of scientists, mountain climbers,
and bird lovers helping the
peregrine come back from near-
extinction as victims of the
pesticide DDT.
WHEN RESCUE efforts were
first organized 10 years ago, only
two pairs of peregrines were
known to remain on the West
Coast, and the bird was con-
sidered extinct east of the
Rockies. At one time there had
been some 500 breeding pairs in
the West and 300 in the East.
The peregrines display deadly
efficiency. The diminutive falcon
weighs less than a chicken, but
with its incredible speed - it is
the world's fastest bird-brawny
legs, cruel beak, and huge talons,
it can overcome victims twice its
size.
Last year hatcheries here, in.
Colorado and in New York state,
run by the Peregrine Fund,
released 248 fledglings, thereby
tripling the country's population.
Most were restored to isolated;
cliffs, but 50 birds were placed in
a dozen U.S. and Canadian cities.
THEY ALREADY have bred
successfully in New York, Los
Angeles, and Baltimore. In fact,
some of their offspring have
followed the time-honored
tradition of moving to the subur-
bs.
Biologists say the urban setting
has several advantages. City,
falcons eat pigeons, which are'
plentiful and practically devoid,
of DDT. Nest atop skyscrapers
are protected from the human'

crowd, and city falcons need not
worry about irate farmers or
nearsighted hunters.
And there is the public,
relations element-their spec-
tacular flight draws lunchtime
crowds, and this has proved a
boon to the Peregrine Fund,
which is two-thirds supported by
donations.
IN SPITE of these successes
the near-total ban on DDT and
protection as an endangered
species, the peregrine still needs
help if the species is to reach a
self-sustaining level.
A host of widely used
chemicals, free from pesticides
to PCBs, as well as lead and mer-
cury, have spread through the
food chain, killing embryos, and
DDT has been slow to break
down. It still is used in Latin
American countries to control
malaria, and migratory birds
which eat DDT-laced insects
there are eaten in turn by
peregrines here.
DDT interferes with the ability
to produce calcium, so affected
birds lay eggs with shells so thin
they cannot support the weight of
a brooding peregrine. Other
predatory birds-including
ospreys, bald eagles and brown
pelicans-are similarly harmed.
"PEOPLE HAVE about the
same level of DDT," explains
Walton. "It's just that we don't
lay eggs."
The percentage of thin-shelled
eggs laid in the wild has been
declining, he says, "but this is the
worst year we've seen in many,
many years." No one is sure why
this is so, though some suspect
illegal use of.DDT.
Scientists employ a variety of
methods to encourage
breeding-including some which
strain decorum.
FOR EXAMPLE, captive
brood birds can lay and hatch
three or four eggs a year, but the
females sometimes beat up their
smaller suitors. When this hap-
pens, a lab assistant will woo the
shrinking violet by donning a
canvas hat with a special rubber
ring for collecting sperm. The
human makes courtship
movements and cries, which
stimulate the male to mount the

hat. The sperm from the hat
birds" then is used to inseminate
the females.
Working with peregrines may
also mean risking life and limb.
Trained gatherers-all skilled
mountaineers-collect too-thin
eggs in the wild. They leave
plaster eggs to keep the adults on
the nest, incubate and hatch the
eggs at the lab, and then return
the young birds to the nest.
Scaling crumbly cliffs is not
easy-but it becomes more ner-
ye-wracking when anxious
parents dive-bomb the egg thief.
One climber broke his leg earlier
this year and had to be taken out
by helicopter.
Some fledglings are set out to
colonize deserted spots that har-
bored peregrines decades ago.
These are trained with the age-
old methods of falconry.
FOR A WEEK, the young are
kept in a box and fed through a
long tube, so they become ac-
customed to their benefactor.
Then they are set free, and their
rations are gradually reduced so
they will start to hunt.
"They rely on instinct," Walton
says. They also seem to learn by
trial and error-peregrines have
been seen swooping at targets
like deer and great-blue herons.
As in nature, about half die the
first year. Some cannot hunt well
enough, others have run-ins with
electricalrwires, cars, hunters,
and natural enemies like eagles
and great horned owls.
Walton, who worries that he is
becoming more bureaucrat than
biologist as he scurries for funds
and programs, says he generally
gets generous responses, though
there are occasional complaints
that his $300,000 annual budget
would be better spent on humans.
"The peregrine and the condor
are going extinct directly as a
result of man," is his reply.
"There are going to be thousands
of species going extinct by the
year 2000. Most of them, we won't
be able to help. I think we have a
moral commitment to help those
we can."
Lindley wrote this article for
Pacific News Service.

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