Passenger pigeon patches availablePublished 2:39pm Sunday, August 25, 2013
Wildlife enthusiasts are invited to join the Department of Natural Resources in remembering the passenger pigeon on the 100-year anniversary of its extinction and to show their support for protecting threatened and endangered species.
The DNR is commemorating the passenger pigeon’s extinction by featuring the species on the annual Michigan’s Living Resources patch.
Proceeds from the sale of these patches – available for purchase online from the Michigan e-Store or by using the order form found in the 2013 Hunting and Trapping Digest — go to the Non-game Wildlife Fund, used to help protect, restore and manage endangered, threatened and non-game wildlife.
“The passenger pigeon is extinct, but there are many other species – about 400 that are listed as threatened or endangered in Michigan – we can help protect from extinction,” said DNR Endangered Species Coordinator Dan Kennedy. “If you want to contribute to endangered species conservation, which isn’t funded by tax dollars, buying a patch or a wildlife habitat conservation license plate or making an online donation is a great way to show your support.”
The passenger pigeon is believed to have once been the most abundant land bird in North America, with an estimated population of 3 billion to 5 billion.
In a short span of only about 40 years, this population dramatically declined, causing the species to become extinct in the wild by 1900.
The last known passenger pigeon died in the Cincinnati Zoo on Sept. 1, 1914.
In Michigan, passenger pigeons once nested in enormous numbers.
However, pigeon-shooting matches were very popular.
Market hunting accelerated through the 1860s and 1870s – in 1869 more than 7 million pigeons were shipped from Van Buren County.
Michigan was the first and only state or province to ban killing of passenger pigeons in 1898, but the law was rarely enforced.
“The passenger pigeon’s story is a reminder why protection of threatened and endangered species is so critical,” said Kennedy.
“Another way concerned citizens can get involved is by supporting endangered species legislation, like the Endangered Species Act, so other wildlife does not face the same fate as the passenger pigeon.”