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Posted by bobin Articles

Published Mascaret, Moncton, N.B.

Conservation is a fascinating word. Obviously its root comes from the word conserve, to save, to preserve, to protect from and to prohibit evil from negatively impacting the subject. Conservation however, is a complex word wrought with dichotomies.

To members of Nature Conservancy, it means protecting habitat so that birds and other forms of wildlife will always have a sanctuary to which they can retreat, stopover or next upon.

To members of Ducks Unlimited it means marshy land with plenty of nutrients for migrating ducks who can stop, fill up, replenish their depleted reserves before moving on to their wintering grounds in the south and where hunters can “harvest” a quota, a bounty, or an excess of migratory fowl.

For a biologist, whose primary focus is the protection and conservation of a species, the harvesting of a few samples of captured birds may be justified so that extensive research can be done to determine their prognosis for the future.

For an absolutist, conservation means no research, no harvesting and allowing nature to take its course without human interference.

To a pro-lifer, it means conserving and protecting the life of the unborn, human or animal.

To a pro-abortionist, it means harvesting the human life for the preservation of the environmental habitat so that over population does not take place.

To a pro-choicer, it means allowing the individuals in question the opportunity to make a free will choice as to whether to harvest or allow to be born, the product of their union.

To a hunter, conservation means protecting the land and habitat where harvesting can take place through any number of means, shotguns, rifles, pistols, arrows, muskets or snares.

To a photographer, conservation means shooting memories while preserving life.

As a realist in the world of conservation, the ideologies that may have driven me decades ago have been modified so that today, cynicism is the determining factor by which many of my decisions are made. I have no problem with hunters harvesting members of the animal population as long as it is done within the law as prescribed by the bureaucrats and politicians who can see the seasons. I have no problem with researchers sacrificing the lives of a specific number of subjects needed to do evaluations to determine the present status and potential future status of the species. My preference however, is to allow nature to take its natural course and to preserve all life, human and animal regardless. Once conception has taken place, then it is the obligation of the natural law to determine the ultimate success or failure of the product on the union. In my travels and associations with hunters, it never ceases to amaze me when I watch as products of their interest are knocked from the sky, filled with lead, mortally wounded or tearing through a thicket with an embedded arrow, never to be found, but knowing that ultimately their wounds will cause their death. There is no harvest here, only death and destruction of the species in the most inhumane way.

It never ceases to amaze me how a goose or another member of the waterfowl family can be knocked from the sky with a wide pattern of buckshot, suffering from a broken wing, a perforated eye or a concussion only to have that species delivered to the hunter by a soft mouthed dog so that subtly and sometimes not so subtly the creatures neck can be broken to justify the harvest and to put the creature out of its misery.

Conservation, human or animal is a complex procedure in today’s society. Billions of dollars have been raised to conserve land that affords protection for wildlife so that the avid outdoorsman and hunting enthusiast has a geographical domain upon which life can be taken and justified. So often the same protectors of creature habitat are in favor of removing all protection from unborn human life. It is also interesting to listen to the argument about freedom of choice and freedom of speech. To oppose freedom of choice is insensitive, mean spirited and cruel. To oppose protection of habitat and the creature comforts required by wildlife is also looked upon as being cruel, mean spirited and unacceptable. Obviously it depends on whose ox is being gored.

In the wonderful world of nature that we live in, and this planet that we see slipping away, I for one choose the following solution:

Let us let life live, born and unborn, human or animal

Let us as humans control the drives that result in consequences some might call negative, that we choose because of our selfishness to terminate.

Let us continue to preserve and conserve territory where our animals, where teachers of nature can thrive, procreate, raise their young and flourish. And if we are to harvest these creatures of nature then let us do it in a way that is truly humane.

Let us change the laws and mandate that hunters must hunt as the creatures they are hunting hunt. That we must stalk in the open and pit our human intelligence against their animal instincts. That we must kill with single shot the object of our pursuit. That if we are not able to accomplish our objective and that we are found out, then we must pay a penalty, a monetary penalty and possibly a civil penalty (loss of license for an indeterminate period of time). Let us require that all those who would harvest be required to go through stalking training like our aboriginal forefathers used to provide for their families. Let us determine what the replacement price is for each subject harvested and have an add on replacement surcharge for each subject harvested, the cost being over and above the purchase price of a license. This surcharge per subject will replace the reduction in funds that has taken place over the past few years by budget constraints at the Federal and Provincial levels. Let us also hire enforcement officers who will police those areas most important to the survival of the species so that laws, presently in place, restricting access at critical times by unscrupulous individuals who endanger the lives of habitat users, can be dealt with legally and criminally and civilly. Let us empower our neighbors to submit those names and license plate numbers of our neighbors who would indiscriminately destroy habitat or creatures willfully and maliciously by violating existing laws. Let us not only impose severe financial penalties on these violators but also more importantly require that they attend educational programs and perform extensive community service to make amends for their illegal activity. Let us also encourage more donors to give generously of their properties to conservation organizations so that they will be encouraged by the government to do so and in return receive far greater tax benefits while living and protect their estates once they are dead. One final thought…let us impose sanctions upon companies whose trash is found scattered helter skelter in our preserves, sanctuaries and natural habitats. Let us add a new dimension to recycling: for every time we find a Tim Horton’s coffee cup in the deep woods, along the shoreline or floating on the surface of one of our bays let us collect it and return it to a distribution center where our bureaucracy then issues TH with a standard fine for clean up and to those human pigs who enjoy littering, discarding and cluttering our natural habitats with their biological or man made waste products, who are found out, once again, let us have them not only pay for the cleanup but be required to go through extensive training on why carrying out what you carry in is good policy. Not only will we educate our adult population but also roll models will be established that will positively impact the youth of our nation. Corporations, whether Tim Horton’s, Irving Oil, Irving Paper or others will take it upon themselves, voluntarily, to begin an extensive educational program throughout their region that will encourage users of their products to recycle rather than discard the no longer significant containers. As we develop an appreciation for ourselves first, a love for the beauty of nature, an appreciation for the cleanliness of our environment, an awareness that a little energy goes a long way to protecting habitats, we may then simplify the definition of conservation and include once again, the conservation, preservation and protection of all life, human and animal and become true photographers who shoot memories while preserving life.

Bob Belliveau-Ferrin Lemieux
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