Kudos to Wayne Michaelchuck (Gibbstown, NJ) for this terrific letter-to-the-editor of the Gloucester County Times.
In response to “Bald eagles make a comeback in New Jersey” and its erroneous crediting of the DDT ban for the rebound in eagle populations, Mr. Michaelchuck wrote:
To the Editor:Great job, Wayne!
The Dec. 25 article on the local comeback of the bald eagle population continues to reinforce the “myth” that DDT caused all egg-shell thinning in birds of prey.
This is being propagated not only in biology classes, but in advanced placement environmental science classes throughout this country, despite some scientific evidence to the contrary.
The core environmental movement has become politicized by anti-progress and anti-capitalist statists. Liberals write and choose the textbooks.
Egg-shell thinning predates the use of DDT (an insecticide that was banned in the United States in 1972). There are many other causes, such as Newcastles’s disease, high nocturnal temperatures, and bird diets low in calcium and vitamin D. The Audubon Society was reporting eggshell thinning the 1890s.
In some experiments to prove the harmful effects of DDT, birds were fed 6,000 to 20,000 times than found in their natural environment. No increases in egg shell thinning or toxic effects were found.
What is not being taught in our government schools is the fact that DDT has been responsible for saving millions of lives. When blankets were treated with DDT in World War II, not one soldier died of typhus fever. More soldiers in World War I died from typhus fever than from enemy bullets.
Claims that DDT is carcinogenic were refuted in experiments where volunteers were fed 35 milligrams of DDT for periods of 21 and 27 months with no ill effects then, or for 30 years since. Malaria was almost eradicated in Sri Lanka. In 1948, there were 2.8 million cases. DDT dropped that number to 17 in 1963. Today there are more than 2.5 million.
Six years after the United States banned DDT, there were 800 million cases of malaria worldwide and 8.2 million deaths a year. Despite mountains of evidence against environmental claims, William Ruckleshaus, then the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, banned DDT. Years later, Ruckelshaus admitted that decisions by the government involving use of toxic substances are political.
Decisions based on “junk science” can have deadly consequences, as in the case of DDT. DDT is only one example of the dangers of ignoring scientific evidence to advance a political agenda. Almost every environmental claim, from ozone depletion to claims that man is causing global warming, can be refuted.
Anyone can come up with a “the sky is falling” theory,” but that theory has to be supported by evidence. As a high school chemistry teacher, I witnessed first hand the indoctrination of our students by mostly liberal teachers. I always included many lessons on the dangers of environmental extremism and adherence to the scientific method. In science, only evidence matters.
Wayne L. Michaelchuck
Bald eagles still not saved by DDT ban
Posted on January 2, 2012 by Steve Milloy…no matter how many times the myth is repeated.
Today’s hapless echo of the DDT-bald eagle myth is reporter Scott Richardson of Bloomington, IL’s Pantagraph.com, who wrote:
Bald eagle numbers were plummeting when I was growing up not far from Starved Rock State Park.
The birds were listed as endangered until after the feds banned DDT. The agri-chemical had found its way into the food chain, first into the fish, then into the eagles that ate them. Egg shells were weakened so much they broke when mature eagles tried to keep them warm.
Today, the birds have rebounded. It’s a joy to see them wintering on the eagle refuge on Plum Island across from Starved Rock State Park. Many can be found there during the cold months when they are forced southward from Wisconsin, Michigan and Canada to find open water to feed. The colder the winter, the more eagles turn up there…
But as JunkScience.com readers know from “100 Things You Should Know About DDT“, DDT had nothing to do with the near demise of the bald eagle, and DDT’s ban had nothing to do with the rebound in bald eagle population:
66. Bald eagles were reportedly threatened with extinction in 1921 — 25 years before widespread use of DDT. [Van Name, WG. 1921. Ecology 2:76]
67. Alaska paid over $100,000 in bounties for 115,000 bald eagles between 1917 and 1942. [Anon. Science News Letter, July 3, 1943]
68. The bald eagle had vanished from New England by 1937. [Bent, AC. 1937. Raptorial Birds of America. US National Museum Bull 167:321-349]
69. After 15 years of heavy and widespread usage of DDT, Audubon Society ornithologists counted 25 percent more eagles per observer in 1960 than during the pre-DDT 1941 bird census. [Marvin, PH. 1964 Birds on the rise. Bull Entomol Soc Amer 10(3):184-186; Wurster, CF. 1969 Congressional Record S4599, May 5, 1969; Anon. 1942. The 42nd Annual Christmas Bird Census. Audubon Magazine 44:1-75 (Jan/Feb 1942; Cruickshank, AD (Editor). 1961. The 61st Annual Christmas Bird Census. Audubon Field Notes 15(2):84-300; White-Stevens, R.. 1972. Statistical analyses of Audubon Christmas Bird censuses. Letter to New York Times, August 15, 1972]
70. No significant correlation between DDE residues and shell thickness was reported in a large series of bald eagle eggs. [Postupalsky, S. 1971. (DDE residues and shell thickness). Canadian Wildlife Service manuscript, April 8, 1971]
71. Thickness of eggshells from Florida, Maine and Wisconsin was found to not be correlated with DDT residues.
See original post for the chart that appears here.
72. U.S. Forest Service studies reported an increase in nesting bald eagle productivity (51 in 1964 to 107 in 1970). [U.S. Forest Service (Milwaukee, WI). 1970. Annual Report on Bald Eagle Status]
73. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists fed large doses of DDT to captive bald eagles for 112 days and concluded that “DDT residues encountered by eagles in the environment would not adversely affect eagles or their eggs.” [Stickel, L. 1966. Bald eagle-pesticide relationships. Trans 31st N Amer Wildlife Conference, pp.190-200]
74. Wildlife authorities attributed bald eagle population reductions to a “widespread loss of suitable habitat”, but noted that “illegal shooting continues to be the leading cause of direct mortality in both adult and immature bald eagles.” [Anon.. 1978. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Endangered Species Tech Bull 3:8-9]
75. Every bald eagle found dead in the U.S., between 1961-1977 (266 birds) was analyzed by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists who reported no adverse effects caused by DDT or its residues. [Reichel, WL. 1969. (Pesticide residues in 45 bald eagles found dad in the U.S. 1964-1965). Pesticides Monitoring J 3(3)142-144; Belisle, AA. 1972. (Pesticide residues and PCBs and mercury, in bald eagles found dead in the U.S. 1969-1970). Pesticides Monitoring J 6(3): 133-138; Cromartie, E. 1974. (Organochlorine pesticides and PCBs in 37 bald eagles found dead in the U.S. 1971-1972). Pesticides Monitoring J 9:11-14; Coon, NC. 1970. (Causes of bald eagle mortality in the US 1960-1065). Journal of Wildlife Diseases 6:72-76]
76. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists linked high intake of mercury from contaminated fish with eagle reproductive problems. [Spann, JW, RG Heath, JF Kreitzer, LN Locke. 1972. (Lethal and reproductive effects of mercury on birds) Science 175:328- 331]
77. Shooting, power line electrocution, collisions in flight and poisoning from eating ducks containing lead shot were ranked by the National Wildlife Federation as late as 1984 as the leading causes of eagle deaths. [Anon. 1984. National Wildlife Federation publication. (Eagle deaths)]