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!)
Cormorant Phobia Hits Parks Canada
As our boat drifted about at the end of its anchor rope there were times when, had I a stone to throw, it would have landed in a foreign country, the United States of America. It was early May and we were in anchored in the southern end of Lake Erie, our stern facing a tiny, uninhabited bit of land called Middle Island, the southernmost land in Canada. The invisible international border was a hard line on the screen of our GPS, our small boat a blip pressed against the line.
The Supremes Rule and an Elephant Loses, Yet Again
Oh, the irony. I stood at the base of a statue dedicated a 19th century elephant, near where he died, prematurely, as elephants do here in Canada. It was April 28, the day after I had, in a cottage where I was staying in Kingsville, Ontario, learned about the Supreme Court decision about Lucy. Lucy is an ailing elephant trapped in a Canadian zoo. The inspiration for this huge statue, in St. Thomas, Ontario, surrounded by kids wanting their picture taken — then they’d rush off to the next tourist spot — was once the world’s most famous captive elephant.
Saving a Predatory Life
When I first saw Eve, in mid-March, I thought I should probably kill her. It would be easier than having to do it later on, after I had come to know her. Twenty minutes earlier a gentleman had called to say he had just picked up a “peregrine falcon” lying on its back on the 9th Line, the rather heavily travelled north-south road just a short distance from my home. Since I walk or drive the 9th Line almost daily, I knew there were red-tailed hawks in the neighborhood. He had heard of my work with birds and asked if I would take the bird. I told him to bring it over.
Canada Monitors Internet in Order to Promote Seal Hunt Propaganda
The story actually first broke in the media in 2010. For some reason it recently resurfaced as a news story, although now there is something else to mull over about what is the worst, sleaziest and most disreputable Canadian government I have ever experienced ... but I can’t get into that here. The story I refer to is that the current government paid $75,000 to the Social Media Group for a pilot project to monitor online chat rooms and political commentary with a view of “correcting” any “misinformation” pertaining to the commercial East Coast seal hunt, now once more under way, in spite of a miniscule market for the product, declining seal numbers as a result of the loss of sea-ice essential for whelping and worldwide condemnation of the cruelty inherent to the hunt.
Cormorants in Toronto
Unaccustomed though I am to publicly praising any government agency’s wildlife management policies, most of which so often seem predicated on the theory that only the views of people who hate or fear wildlife count, there are exceptions. The Toronto Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) is one.
Alberta Oil Sands Keep on Killing So We Can Afford to Keep on Filling
If you live in North America and use gasoline, oil or natural gas — or even if you don’t (and that would be exceptional) — you are indirectly complicit in the deaths of a great many innocent animals, including some who have a horribly tortured death. We are all guilty, if not equally, or directly.
Seal Expert Asked Dumb and Dumber Questions on Valentine’s Day
Dumb and dumber describes a large portion of questions Dr. David Lavigne was asked Feb. 14, which was disconcerting to me, a loyal Canadian, because the questions were asked by members of the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans.
I Am Proud of What May Be the World’s Very First Bird-Friendly Building; May It Lead the Way
(Editor’s note: This is the ninth in a two-month series of blogs written by Barry from Canada and, from her perch at our Sacramento headquarters in Northern California, Senior Program Associate Monica Engebretson. Their “blog-off” is part of Born Free USA’s celebration of National Bird Day, which every year falls on Jan. 5.)
At the end of January I will be attending a courtroom in Toronto where a company that manages tall buildings covered with reflective glass will be pitted against an environmental lawyer who is representing a provincial conservation organization. Having heard various witnesses last year, the judge will now listen to summary arguments. One side will explain why those who manage a tall building that kills hundreds of migratory songbirds each day should not be found legally complicit. The other side will explain why, for the first time in Canadian law, those who manage a building should be held responsible for the deaths of the birds.