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!)
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.
When all else fails, get personal
Judging from newspaper reports, there seems to be a bit of a change in how the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) is trying to promote the spring bear hunt—or maybe the media are ignoring what they were saying. The original argument was that the spring bear hunt does not orphan as many bears as its critics claim, and that male bears eat cubs (which they may do, but it is not commonplace). But, the concerns of those of us opposed to hunting bears in spring are based on what was reported by scientists studying the hunt. Without seeming to consult with those scientists (apparently including the bear experts working for him), Ontario’s Minister of Natural Resources David Orazietti, and his boss, Premier Kathleen Wynne, chose instead to implement a “test” spring hunt, starting May 1 and running for six weeks. It is limited to eight wildlife management units in Central and Northern Ontario.
The Canadian government fantasy is just not that widely shared
You may wonder why I, a long time opponent of Canada’s east coast commercial seal hunt, would offer advice to those who fight people like me: the Canadian government. No fear. Anything not fitting the current Canadian government’s ideology is ignored, and yet I live in hope. Call it Canadian pride, or what is left of it, but I hate how we’re increasingly considered to be so backward and regressive on issues pertaining to the environment and animal welfare by so much of the rest of the world—including the European Union (EU), whose ban on the import of products from the east coast commercial seal hunt is opposed by Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Gail Shea.