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Birding Scandal(for fun)
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- Subject: Birding Scandal(for fun)
- From: SHAHIDRAD@charleston.net
- Date: Wed, 01 Nov 2000 20:00:43 -0500 (EST)
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I received this from a birder friend today and thought some of you would
>Check out this news report from http://www.abcnews.com/102934453.html
>..What's next, random drug testing at the birding classic...?
>Birders Decry Use of Performance Enhancing Drugs
>(AP) Grandon, South Carolina.
>Birdwatchers--or birders, as they prefer to be called--have struggled for
>years to shed the image of little old ladies in canvas tennis shoes
>stalking sparrows in the park. Since the late 1960s, birders have
>promoted the competitive aspects of their hobby through listing--usually
>friendly competitions to see the highest number of species in a given
>area or during organized day-long birding events. However, several
>recent incidents have cast a dark shadow across the face of competitive
>Earlier this week, Jim Spondahl, an active birder from Wasteborough,
>South Carolina was featured on a local newscast after the Grandon
>Audubon Society stripped him of his first prize award in its local
>birding competition after it was determined that Spondahl had won the
>competition while taking performance enhancing drugs (PEDs).
>"I'm shocked and bewildered," stated Jane Waspund, a local Audubon
>member. "I've known Jim for years. He's developed quite a reputation
>lately for being able to find birds where others have come up empty. We
>were starting to wonder how he did it, but I guess now we know."
>In a statement to local authorities, Spondahl denied having taken PEDs,
>and attributed his birding success to an intensive training regime
>involving hours listening to an extensive collection of taped bird calls.
>"I've collected hundreds of tapes and CDs, as well as thousands of hours
>of unpublished call notes taped by birders all over the country," stated
>Spondahl. "I rigorously deny taking any performance enhancing drugs to
>boost my daily bird totals."
>However, when a fellow birding team member accidentally ingested a pill
>found on the front seat of Spondahl's Chevy Tahoe during the latest
>birding competition, he made the discovery that blew the lid off this
>latest birding scandal.
>"I just thought it was an orange Tic-Tack," claimed Andrew Limisk, "but
>several minutes after eating the pill, I started seeing and hearing birds
>we hadn't been able to find earlier. However, it was only Jim and me
>that were able to see all of the good birds. Our other team members were
>unable to see and hear everything we were able to."
>Eventually, when Spondahl and Limisk both claimed to see a distant a
>Ferruginous Hawk, a bird normally found thousands of miles away in the
>western United States, fellow team members began to become suspicious.
>And then a few minutes later, they both reported hearing a Canyon Wren,
>another western species. And only ten minutes later, the two glimpsed a
>"We've never had either of these three species within 200 miles of here,"
>stated Dave Urntle, a former birding companion of Spondahl's. "We started
>wondering what was going on, then Andy started breaking out in a cold
>sweat. He was shaky all the rest of the day."
>When Limisk collapsed at work the next morning, he was rushed to the
>hospital and found to have suffered an allergic reaction to mosbitol, a
>mild stimulant and hallucinogen.
>"All I could think of was that orange Tic-Tac," said Limisk. "I asked
>Jim about it, but he said he didn't know what I was talking about. I
>pressed him on it, and he just started getting really defensive."
>The next day, a package of orange mosbitol tablets was anonymously mailed
>to the Grandon Audubon Society from Wasteborough, the rural community
>where Spondahl resides. Allegations of Spondahl's mosbitol use were
>found in a note attached to the bottle of pills.
>Caspar Isenhoff, a prominent member of the American Birding
>Association--the largest national organization of serious birdwatchers,
>claimed that it was not the first time such allegations have been made
>about the misuse of PEDs by birders. "We've got several prominent
>listers who are always seeing really rare birds that no one else is able
>to see. For years we've joked that these guys must be doing drugs, but
>only recently have we found out that some of them actually are."
>Birders across the country are starting to become increasingly suspicious
>about unconfirmed bird sightings reported to local birding authorities,
>while others are decrying the large bird lists that are beginning to make
>birding competition totals suspect.
>"How can we compete fairly with folks who are using these performance
>enhancing drugs?" asked Gene LaCoost, a bird enthusiast from Mendocino,
>California. "We've got some of these guys who are finding rare birds
>almost every other week. Some of them are seeing 40 to 50 percent more
>birds than have ever been seen in their area before. These PEDs give
>them an unfair competitive advantage, and it may be starting to drive the
>more traditional but serious non-PED-users out of the sport."
>LaCoost is spearheading a move to create a list of banned substances for
>use by bird competition organizers. "We all know that some birders may
>drink a little alcohol, and that this can affect their daily bird totals,
>but generally we haven't been too concerned about this in the past
>because it hasn't significantly affected the published listing totals.
>However, we've really got to do something soon about these new birding
>PEDs. It's just a shame that we have to deal with this in what has always
>been a friendly competitive endeavor."
>According to LaCoost's guidelines, Spondahl's use of mosbitol would
>definitely warrant the stripping of his birding title. "We can't have
>people running around, using these drugs to help them find rare birds,"
>However, an anonymous birder from Oakland, California recently published
>a strident defense of PED use, in which he claimed that "birders have has
>always been driven by the quest for improved birding equipment,
>information, and opportunities. Anything that we can use to help us
>find more birds and better enjoy our sport should be deemed acceptable.
>When all is said and done, what's the real difference between the use of
>the latest high quality coated optics and a few PEDs. They're both just
>tools to help you see more birds."
>Meanwhile, the American Birding Association has yet to include a
>denunciation of PEDs in their Birding Code of Ethics, though Isenhoff
>admitted that they have recently discussed taking such a stance, though
>"we have a lot of high-powered listers who might object if we start
>questioning their listing totals," he said.
>So, in the meantime, move over grandma and make way for the doped-up
>birdwatcher zipping by in a mosbitol induced clarity as he pushes birding
>to the next competitive level.
National Audubon Society
Francis Beidler Forest
336 Sanctuary Road
Harleyville, SC 29448