I am just wondering if there is any sense of continuing a formal environmental committee such as Wolf Matters.ca. Are we gaining any ground what so ever? I don't want to sound defeatist but what are we accomplishing? I feel like the NDP party of Alberta must feel. They will only ever get 20% of the vote in this province. We all complain about how bad the conservatives are but cannot defeat them.
I ran into a situation last week to demonstrate what we are dealing with.
My brother-in-law, a great guy, big farmer and upstanding citizen from small town Alberta who works hard, is honest and very red neck. He, his son and a few friends went ice fishing on their skidoos to Bistou Lake in far Northern Alberta last winter. They try to do this manly trip annually and to tell you the truth, I would also enjoy that very much. The thing that got to me was that while they were fishing, a pack of 8 wolves decided to cross this very large lake and were spotted by my family of red necks. The guys ran them down with their snowmobiles and managed to kill 6 of the pack. They are still bragging and laughing about this slaughter. They were able to salvage 3 hides as the rest of them began slipping their hair as they were packed so tightly on the skidoo toboggan. It is bad enough to me that these good people would slaughter these wolves very quickly around their farm land where there might be some possibility of the wolves doing harm to any cattle in the area, but up at Bistou Lake, there is nothing but natural prey for the wolves. I felt the tears well up in my eyes as they told their gruesome story. To maintain family harmony in an already unstable family group, I chose not to say anything.
How do we combat this ingrained lust to kill one of our great predators? There is a culture of manly right-of-passage ingrained into such a large percentage of our population that it seems impossible to defeat or even slow down. My family continues to raise generation after generation of people ingrained with this lust to defeat the predators of our land. Their grandsons now have rifles and enjoy hunting coyotes, squirrels, along with deer, moose and elk. I don't mind hunting, I think it is a good thing to know how to feed your family in tough times. I get that. I am very much a part of this culture. I was raised within it and took part in many hunts. I also shot bears, wolves and coyotes and hoped at one time to get a shot at grizzly but never did.
I have other brothers who have sons and outdoors lovers who cannot wait to get a shot at any wolf, bear, cougar that steps into their sights. I have listened to other people wishing they could be in the helicopter shot gunning wolves. My Dad one time shot 6 black bears in one sitting and another friend shot 5 in his grain field at one time for no other reason than bloodlust. I remember arguing with my brother over the salmon harvest. He would go annually salmon fishing to B.C. His truck carried a deep freeze and generator and he carried every fish he could back to Alberta with no thought to salmon and halibut stock declines. He paid for his license and the boat ride and was dam well going to get his money’s worth. His is not the only deepfreeze/generator package that I know about travelling annually to B.C. for the salmon fishery.
This is the culture we are battling and trying to open their very closed minds to the possibilities of beautiful nature. Lord help me if I mention anything at all about trying to be environmentally aware of the destruction of our wild lands. Being an environmentalist is akin to being a Southern Baptist preacher spewing hell fire and brimstone at our family reunion. Right now many members of my family work and make their living with the companies in the very region of the province where the caribou are threatened by clear cutting and oil extraction. Getting that oil out of the ground and chopping those trees down right now is paramount to any environmental damage and be dammed if this isn't their right. I once worked for a sawmill owner who would have liked to put a bounty on Spotted Owls in B.C. so there would be no excuse to hold up logging old growth forest depriving him of more millions. It doesn’t matter that certain populations are extirpated here as there are still more in another places.
This is the same dilemma that we are facing with the governments and resource extraction companies who are working here. They feel that they have the right to bull doze everything in their path for corporate profits and re-election. They have the right and the power to use all tools at their disposal to destroy whatever stands in their way. Poison, snares, traps and helicopter gunners will go out to destroy hundreds of predators under the guise of protecting a few caribou when they admit in their own correspondence that habitat fragmentation is the number one reason that caribou populations cannot grow and be sustainable. They seem willing to sacrifice this caribou population for resource corporate profits while accusing and hanging the wolves and bears.
Both federal and provincial governments muzzle their scientists to prevent any educated information from reaching the general population. If you don't know about what is going on around you, you cannot raise a ruckus and you will think things are just fine. Governments are happy to see us constantly distracted by meaningless celebrity news with the hope that we will talk more about Kim's booty job than any real issues.
I do feel that there are many people who do care deeply about the wilderness in this and other provinces. We see every summer caravans of holiday trailers heading to some semblance of wilderness to experience a bit of nature. People do need rejuvenation that nature provides and we can see the desire to see predators by the "bear jambs" along any highway.
Somehow we have to try to raise awareness to more people to what we are doing to our wilderness before it is so depleted that we will be confined to a few small parks. How do we do this? I truly look forward to showing my grand children something of the wilderness that I have seen. I don't want them to just see a moving benchmark of wildness that they may think is natural and real.www.wildviewfinders.ca