by Barry Kent MacKay,
Senior Program Associate
Born Free USA's Canadian Representative
Barry is an artist, both with words and with paint. He has been associated with our organization for nearly three decades and is our go-to guy for any wildlife question. He knows his animals — especially birds — and the issues that affect them. His blogs will give you just the tip of his wildlife-knowledge iceberg, so be sure to stay and delve deeper into his Canadian Project articles. If you like wildlife and reading, Barry's your man. (And we're happy to have him as part of our team, too!)
Wildlife management madness hits Oregon
Something strange and disturbing is happening on our west coast. A range of seabird species most folks have never heard of, including traditionally abundant species, are in severe decline. Not all species of local seabirds are affected—but no one knows why, exactly, some have become so depleted in recent decades. What is known is that the species involved, including western grebes, murres, loons, long-tailed ducks, and others, seem to have in common a need for small fish (herring, sand lances, and others who have historically occurred there in vast numbers). Presumably, there are other factors variously involved, depending on the species, but diet seems to be a common factor among them.
They want to kill bears because they just don't understand
Just when we thought they had ended, we received yet another e-mail from a detractor critical of our failed efforts last spring to prevent an ill-conceived partial re-opening of the spring bear hunt. Attached to it was this URL, which tells of an effort to move a “nuisance” mother black bear and her two cubs in the Yukon that failed when the bears returned. The mother was killed, leaving the cubs orphaned.
Needless killing of bear cubs reflects dark side of our species
Last week, I received a call from a frequent caller (who was terribly upset) to ask if I had heard that “they” had killed the two baby bears. He’s not able to use a computer and has never grasped that few such atrocities can be reported in Canada without me hearing about it, many times over.
Sanity and compassion prevail in New York... for now.
Wow. I am so accustomed to myth-based wildlife management policy swaying legislators (who are too lazy to do their homework), both Canadian and American, that it’s hard to believe what has happened, at least to date, in New York state (just across the lake from where I live, in Ontario). Senator Tony Avella recently announced the unanimous passage of his state legislation (S. 6589) by the state senate. This sets up a two year moratorium on plans by the ironically named Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to kill all mute swans in New York state: every last individual. While this has, inevitably, been called a victory for “animal rights and environmental protection groups,” it is much, much more than that. It is a victory for reason, logic, science, and yes—compassion.
For the first time ever, I have no candidate
On June 12, we Ontario citizens go to the polls to vote for our next provincial government. Canadian politics are too different to easily explain to those not familiar with the process, but to put it simply, there are three major and one minor (plus numerous fringe) parties vying for votes. The incumbent party is the Liberal (who are not very “liberal”): normally a centrist to center-left party. I have voted for them in every election for decades, once even joining the party. I have done so, however, mostly to block the right-wing Progressive Conservative (PC) party, by voting “strategically” for the party most likely to beat the PCs. To put it simply, I find their way of thinking bizarre, and their platform, frankly, dangerous.
Canadian ignorance fuels Canadian ignorance
In late May, it was announced that the World Trade Organization (WTO) had ruled in favour of the European Union’s ban on products derived from Canada’s northwest Atlantic commercial hunt of harp seals. Canada and Norway had appealed the ban. Just before the decision was made public, an organization called the “Trade Fairness Coalition” released a poll that suggested a majority of Europeans are opposed to the ban on seal products based on “public morality,” unless there is clear scientific evidence to support the ban.
Long overdue book launched in Toronto
On Saturday, May 10, contrary to weather forecasts, the sun shone down on what we locals call the Leslie Street Spit: more correctly known as Tommy Thompson Park (TTP), or the East Toronto Headland. It is home to the largest nesting colony of double-crested cormorants in eastern North America, along with other waterbird species. That day, it was the venue of both a birding festival and the launch of an important new book, The Double-Crested Cormorant: Plight of a Feathered Pariah by Linda R. Wires, just published by Yale University Press in 2014. And, full disclosure: I illustrated it voluntarily, and I receive no royalties.
New fad puts vulnerable people at risk
Thanks to a new trend, young children, kids with autism, frail elderly people, and other folks are unknowingly facing a needless new risk of physical and psychological harm. Increasingly, organizations—companies and charities alike—are taking advantage of a very safe practice, with very real benefits, to indulge their own desire to keep exotic, and even dangerous, animals.