Warning: some readers may find the photos with this story disturbing
Dr. Di Wittner puts her heart and soul into the bird boxes located along Salmon Arm’s Foreshore Trail on Shuswap Lake.
Wittner, a biologist and member of the Salmon Arm Bay Nature Enhancement Society (SABNES), puts the posts into the ground to mount the boxes. She moves the poles when high water threatens. She cleans the bird boxes each year and celebrates the nesting successes.
On Saturday, May 15, Wittner’s heart was broken after the discovery of eight more vandalized boxes, bringing the total number of damaged nesting sites to 32 or 30 per cent of the boxes along the trail from the Brighouse Nature Centre to the viewing platform.
Bitterly disappointed, Wittner believes the vandalism is the work of one person.
“The perpetrator has sent a loud and clear message of hatred and a determination to prevent these birds from nesting,” said Wittner in a Facebook post shared to the Shuswap Trails’ page. “As breeding season progresses in earnest, the perpetrator is no longer targeting partially built nests; they are now destroying eggs and nestlings. Much to my horror, one broken box had a female swallow that had clearly been bludgeoned to death.
“This is going to get worse as the birds will continue to attempt to rear young, not knowing they are vulnerable.”
The RCMP and Fish and Wildlife have been notified of the vandalism. Wittner and SABNES president Janet Aitken are sharing the news in the hope of having more eyes and ears on alert along the trail.
Wittner says the attacks on the boxes are happening at night. All but one of the 32 boxes were occupied.
“They are now easy targets and part of me wants to remove all the boxes, if only to save lives,” said Wittner. “Another part of me refuses to let the bastard win.”
Wittner is the only person who knows where all of the boxes are located, and she has used her last spare box. Replacements are needed.
“This is now a serious, potentially dangerous situation,” she said. “It’s certainly dangerous for the birds we all love so much.”
Aitken said SABNES has some plans in place, but if anybody has any other suggestions or would like to donate a bird box, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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