Letters: Concern expressed over proposed cormorant hunting season proposed by province

Dear Editor;

Regarding the December 7 article about Grand Council Chief Glen Hare’s joy over Premier Doug Ford’s absurd desire to see the double-crested cormorant returned to endangered status: That, history teaches, will be the inevitable result of allowing hunters to kill 50 per day from March 15 until December 31 and to reverse over a century’s progress in wild game management by making it legal to allow the meat to spoil. 

The irony begins with the stock photo image you used, which shows the wrong kind of cormorant. Those are great cormorants, a larger species and extremely rare in Ontario. The presence of a non-Canadian gull species, the yellow-legged gull, tells us the photo was not even taken on this continent. 

It’s ironic too that Hare’s ancestors were not originally responsible for the species being wiped out not once, as traditionally reported, but twice, in the Great Lakes, by European invaders, my own ancestors and their guns and avarice, originally in the 19th century and again following the addition of DDT to the environment, always in the interest of killing native fauna. 

If Chief Hare’s contention that the cormorants are “draining our lakes of fish” were true, there’d be no cormorants, since they depend on fish. Their presence indicates a very healthy population of whatever species they consume. 

Two thirds of the world’s fish stocks are harvested at their limits or beyond, and that has resulted in corresponding declines in fish predators ranging from sharks (themselves so demonized for daring to eat “our” fish) through such avian piscivores as ospreys, loons and, yes, cormorants, less common now than when no one was here but Hare’s ancestors.

But most ironic, I think, because on the same day you published your article it was reported from Alberta that a more enlightened First Nations representative, Kehewin Cree Nation councillor Benjamin Badger, showed much more understanding in his defense of another often-reviled wildlife species, the wolf. Pointing out that it was farming and agriculture, not wolves, that has “devastated the land that they use to sustain themselves,” also reportedly said, “Metaphorically, you take what’s happening to the wolves and apply it to what Indian people had to face; there’s so much correlation.”

Hatred, like ignorance, is easily acquired, it seems.
Around the world no naturally evolved ecosystems have seen declines in biodiversity caused by native predators. 

People with both the observationally derived wisdom of so many pre-industrial societies and that of modern ecological science understand the importance and value of apex predators to a healthy ecosystem. 

It’s sad that people like Premier Ford and Chief Glen Hare are isolated from such knowledge, such awareness, such attunement to the world that ultimately is the source of all life, sustenance, and, yes, commerce. If there is a problem, it’s us and our ignorance—not our co-habiting natural world that is the cause, and there are problems, many of them, deriving from that ignorance, that greed, and what we impose on this increasingly beleaguered world.

Deb Harris