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Canadian Projects

Canadian Blog

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!)

Why Do I Bother Trying to Save the World?

Published 10/26/12

After a three-hour drive, and a long meeting with two knowledgeable animal protectionists and an accurate and precise lawyer and a wonderful dinner provided by a colleague, I spent several hours in an “overflow” room in London, Ontario’s City Hall. TV monitors relayed an ongoing series of deputations by property owners, their agents, lawyers and senior company executives, all fighting to maximize profits from the planned “development” of a large swath of nearby land. It was a massive topic.

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Zoos Tell Lies; Animals Suffer

Stealing Belugas Is Not Conservation

Published 10/10/12

Ever hear of a leaf-scaled sea-snake, an Araripe manakin, a Rio Pescado stubfoot toad, or an Amsterdam Island albatross? They are among 100 species of wild animals and plants recently designated as the world’s 100 most endangered species on a list compiled by 8,000 scientists at the World Conservation Congress.

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Everyone Does Not Love Marineland

The Travesty of Zoo Accreditation in Canada

Published 09/20/12

The mayor of the incorrigibly kitschy community of Niagara Falls, Ontario, thinks Marineland, a combination aquarium, zoo and amusement park, takes good care of its animals.

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Go Where the Bears Are and the Cops Aren't

Why Ontario Is a Poacher's Haven

Published 09/06/12

At 415,000 square miles, Ontario is smaller than Quebec (at 595,000 square miles) and Alaska (at 586,000 square miles) in size, and yet has nearly twice the number of people as the other two combined. It's still not crowded, at least not once you leave the population centers huddled along the northern edge of the Great Lakes that form Ontario's southern border.

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The Down East Politics of Coyote Pelting

Our Coyotes Are Bigger Than Your Coyotes, Unfortunately

Published 08/08/12

When Born Free USA sent me to Halifax, Nova Scotia, last month, I didn’t quite know what to expect. I’ve been to the province many times before, but now I was scheduled to join local environmentalists in a meeting with the provincial minister of natural resources, Charlie Parker, and some of his staff. The issue was the government’s controversial “pelt incentive program,” which pays trappers $20 for every coyote pelt they turn in. One official (unfortunately absent from our meeting) is quoted in the media as saying, “Trappers must check their traps every day, and their presence in the woods, and the traps they set, send a regular message to the coyote population that humans should be avoided.”

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Twenty Years and Counting: When Will We Ever Learn?

Crosbie, Seals and Cod

Published 07/13/12

Coincidentally, my recent visit to Halifax, Nova Scotia, came a few days after the 20th anniversary of perhaps the most notorious day in the economic history of Atlantic Canada. It was July 2, 1992, when one of Newfoundland and Labrador’s best-known politicians, John Crosbie, announced a “moratorium” on the northwest Atlantic cod fishery.

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Shame on Point Pelee National Park

Cormorant Phobia Hits Parks Canada

Published 05/21/12

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.

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A Jumbo-Sized Tragedy for Lucy the Elephant

The Supremes Rule and an Elephant Loses, Yet Again

Published 05/02/12

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.

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