Some upset over killing of wild birds at Rancho Mirage country club

Federal agency permits bird killing

Controversy over killing of wild birds at Rancho Mirage country club

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. - Coachella Valley residents speak out against the "inhumane" killings of wild birds at local country clubs.

"There was a man who was walking and chasing, he was chasing down a lone bird, until he killed it. He was in someone else's patio," said Dr. Amy Austin.

Austin is a resident of Rancho Mirage. She noticed in the neighborhood app,, that people in her area, including the community of 'The Springs,' were concerned about the permitted killing of wild foul. 

"People are saying that it's traumatizing the dogs. People are out having coffee in the early morning and there's a loud boom. It has just really been brought to our attention that there needs to be changed," she told KESQ News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2's Katie Widner.

Sometimes, Dr. Austin alleged, the birds were shot and killed with blanks. 

The killings are permitted through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

"The country clubs have to apply for a permit through US Fish and Wildlife for which the city is involved at that point," said Sean Smith, Public Information Office for the city of Rancho Mirage. "They get that permit through US Fish and Wildlife and once they get it, through the details of that permit they are allowed to shoot and kill certain birds."

The Springs is not the only country club in the desert who uses the permit, but several residents who live in the community reached out to us.

The Springs released a statement on the matter:

As with many organizations in the Coachella Valley, The Springs Club engages in practices that are specific to the depredation of water fowl. The Springs Club has a valid Migratory Bird Depredation Permit issued by the US Fish and Wildlife service. The club has also been granted authorization by the City of Rancho Mirage for coot depredation. The club uses many methods to relocate the water fowl including: dogs, bird bombs, decoys and flags. These methods are the primary form of relocation. Each permit allows for the use of lethal means if the other methods are unsuccessful. The Springs has engaged in this practice for numerous years and has followed the established protocol each time.

Austin said she is working with others to make a change.

"We've gotten a petition together so that people can sign it who are in favor of finding different, viable options for the situation and for stopping the senseless killing of these beautiful birds," she said. 

If you would like to sign the petition or learn more about her efforts, you may contact her at 760-774-0047.

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