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!)
Parks Canada Shows How Not to Conserve the Natural Environment
This is not the place to go into details, but in April and May I found myself on four occasions living in the 21st century, benefitting from GPS navigation, cellphones and my new digital camera, while viewing the bloody results of early 19th century thinking.
Or How I Spent the Past Few Days
OK. I’ll fill in the details in a later blog, but I here I want to talk about just getting back from Middle Island, a tiny 46-acre island in Lake Erie. I was anchored offshore, meters from the U.S. border, the most southern place one could be and still be in Canada. I was there with colleague Liz White to monitor gunmen as they shot hundreds of double-crested cormorants off their nests.
And Even The Critics Are Unaware
To understand the reason even the critics are ignoring why proposed use of jet planes at Billy Bishop Airport by Porter (or any other) Airlines is a bad idea, one has to first know the geography. The tiny airport is located at the west end of a crescent-shaped island and adjoining islets that roughly run east and west, parallel the shoreline of downtown Toronto, North America’s third-largest city by population, located on the shore of Lake Ontario. Toronto Island consists of about 230 hectares (about 570 acres). The island curves north at its western end and embraces the Inner Harbor, which is kept from being land-locked by a narrow channel, or gap, at each end.
Coyote Killing Appeals to Irrationality, Always
The “Living With Coyotes Information Night” in the stylish area of Toronto called “The Beach,” held last March 19, started with a group of speakers with various levels of expertise about coyotes presenting information about these wild canines who live among us, not always amicably. Two small dogs have been killed by coyotes, and there has been a reported spike in missing cats. With cats you can’t rule out some being caught by great horned owls, common but largely unseen in Toronto. Cars and dogs take their toll, coyotes getting the blame.
This Will Not Conserve Elephants
(Find out here what special steps Born Free USA is taking this month to help animals such as elephants.)
There is a wave of apprehension at least, if not outright fear, permeating the internal communications of the zoo industry. They have created an enemy, and the enemy is us, the animal protection movement, which they have elevated to near-mythical proportions, a commanding force poised to destroy them.
New Kids’ Book Is About Animal Sanctuaries
OK, first the requisite disclaimer. The author of “Saving Lives & Changing Hearts: Animal Sanctuaries and Rescue Centres,” Rob Laidlaw, is a close friend and colleague, and the back cover has a blurb by another close friend and colleague, Adam Roberts. The book mentions Born Free USA’s own primate sanctuary, in Texas. That said, the fact is that this is a book I’d praise even if I had no connection to it in any way, because it is something I have longed wished to see, well done. I just wish there were a version for adults.
Raccoon Strain Rabies: The Threat That Keeps On Giving
Fear is a powerful tool for manipulating opinion. When you fear, you are most likely to put aside analytical thought, scrutiny and healthy skepticism because, well, you are afraid. Governments realize this, as explored in such books as “False Alarm: The Truth About the Epidemic of Fear,” by Mark Siegel (John Wiley and Sons, 2005), and “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism,” by Naomi Klein (Alfred A. Knopf, 2007). But hey, most people don’t read, they react. That is something governments understand. To work, fear needs the molehill of truth from which a mountain of fear can be constructed.
In celebration of National Bird Day 2013, Barry Kent MacKay and Monica Engebretson — senior campaign associates for Born Free USA and lifelong bird enthusiasts — are taking turns in December and January to describe some of their favorite avian species. Below is the ninth and final installment, written by Barry.
American Woodcock: Gentle, Mysterious, Beautiful
When I was a kid Ravenshoe Road was a lonely country road, and one chilly evening in April my parents took me there to join with three other adults in an alder swamp, where I was about to have a memorable adventure. My mom and two of the other adults had permits to catch and band birds. And we were after a species I had never seen, the American Woodcock.