Great NebraskaNaturalists and Scientists
NOU, Lawrence Bruner, Letter, 1905, Jan. 20
The following letter received at the University of Nebraska will indicate the general sentiment among the farmers concerning the usefulness of our birds. Hastings, Nebr., Jan. 16, 1905.
Prof. L. Bruner, Dear Sir:- I thank you very much for yours of recent date in reply to certain inquiries also for the copy of the Plea for the Protection of our Birds, which you enclose. Now I will say that this very problem of bird protection has troubled me very much and I am thankful for what the state legislature has done four years ago in this respect. I enter a plea in the strongest possible terms for the same or the enforcement of an even more stringent law by the present legislature for the protection of our birds. I would especially protect the quails, meadow larks, and plovers as I myself know that these birds live entirely upon insects during the summer and harm no one and therefore should be entirely prohibited from being killed. Instead of this protection the hunters (lots of them, too) come out from town and in spite of all we can do shoot down the birds. The native grasshoppers are becoming more numerous every year in the alfalfa fields as they hatch there right along; also the cut-worms, and at first cutting there are thousands and thousands of them under the shocks. We have had them so plentiful that they literally covered the ground. These conditions brought the above mentioned birds to the fields in large numbers to feast upon the pests. While thus gathered the hunters come along and we get into a bad row with them sometimes, since some of them even have bottles along. They begin shooting right and left and by so doing my son was nearly killed by one of them as he was shocking up hay.
371-00033ow worthy professor could I urge you to lay this matter before one or all of our legislators who in your mind would take the proper interest in the matter. If you lay it before them it might have ten times more force than if we farmers did it. But let me tell you that if we cannot stop the shooting of these valuable birds we will at some near day be overcome with grasshoppers which even now cut the seed pods of alfalfa to such an extent as to make it no longer profitable to raise alfalfa seed. Besides the cut-worms kill many of the alfalfa plants – sometimes causing large bare spots in the field. It is acknowledged by the Illinois bankers that our Nebraska alfalfa has raised the price of land ten dollars per acre and the fall wheat another ten dollars per acre. Shall we have all this destroyed by hunters? Yours very truly, Signed.