THE NEWFOUNDLAND QUARTERLY :: ONLINE EXCLUSIVES
Online Exclusive for #443
The next theme we are looking at is around species. No, not the 90s sci-fi horror movie with that lady from Newfoundland in it;¹ but species of animals in this province. What are your thoughts on the animals that have we have welcomed into our province. What about the ones that just barged in? Do you think introducing species is a good idea? Have we done it right? And while we are at it let's not forget about the ones that have been here all along. Ladies and gentlemen, as always, the floor is yours.
"I did some research: can you believe we only have 14 native species (according to the websites I visited anyway, and you know if you find it on the internet it must be true). I know we're an island and it can be challenging to get on and off even now in 2012, but seriously only a little over a dozen species when there are millions worldwide? How did we only end up with 14 species? And three of those 14 are different kinds of bats! I did not know there was such thing as a Northern Long Eared Bat but there is and it's one of our native species. Plus this infers that there is also a Northern Short Eared Bat and a Southern Long Eared Bat somewhere. Surely we must have missed a few when they counted those species originally. There are islands in the Pacific Ocean that have a lot more species of butterflies than that. That might have been an exaggeration but you get my drift. Can we get a recount? Anyone? No, just me looking for a recount? Fine, just me? If there's only that many it shouldn't take me long. Where can I find one of those Long Eared Bats?" - 27, events coordinator
"Moose have caused too many accidents. They have had a big (and negative) impact on countless families. The thrill of the hunt and a good 'feed of stew' is not worth the lives that have been lost and the high cost of insurance in the province. It was a mistake to bring them here and on top of that we didn't do it right and aren't doing it right still. It's that simple in my book." - 28, avid non-hunter
"Well, nobody just decides to introduce a species into a new environment without a valid, researched reason. At least I hope not. In our case introducing the moose species has had many positive rewards. Moose hunting has become a family tradition for many across the province. It has provided a lot of father-son bonding. A lot of manly trips into the woods leaving the women to have a ladies weekend. The point is, while there have been many accidents, the introduction of the moose to this province has had many positive social impacts. It has strengthened a lot of relationships and built a lot of cabins." - 34, teacher and wife of an avid hunter
"There's been a lot of accidents, yes, but it's not all bad. There's been a big financial kickback. Moose have saved families a lot of money out of their food budgets. Meat is expensive at Sobey's but a quarter moose can go a long way and save a chunk of money. Moose licenses and any necessary wildlife fines bring in revenue for the government. Not to mention the benefit to the stores who sell hunting gear, rifles, and tins of sausages. And you got to have a big truck to haul the moose home, and that truck drinks gas, which is great because you're going to have to drive that truck for a few hours minimum to actually reach the place you got your license for. Plus you take a group of fellas out of St John's, put them in a cabin (that they either bought or built), and they require a few (dozen) beer. So there's a lot of money tangled up in the moose business, that's a good thing." - 27, business owner
"[Moose cost] too much money. Millions of dollars were just spent on a fence. You don't read that sentence every day. "A fence cost millions of dollars." A lot of money and personnel time is spent to enforce hunting and trapping laws. Not enough bang for the buck if you ask me. But if you increased the number of licenses, and sure if you wanted to you could increase the cost of the license, too, then there would be less moose around, so less of a need for a big fence, and I'd say less enforcement required, too. " - 60, retired entrepreneur
"Introducing a new species is fine as long as it's handled properly. There's a lot of upfront work. Research on the animal you are bringing in, the reason you would bring it in, what will the cost be, what are the implications, how will we bring it in? Then I figure you'd need to observe the animal you are bringing in. Where it's a government decision there'd need to be policies written and debate in the House. It's no easy feat. I don't imagine any amount of research and prep work could have foreseen the impacts of introducing moose to our province. The biggest thing is the interference with our highways. We need to do more to prevent moose accidents. The fence is a start. Permits need to be increased so a greater number of the animals are legally hunted. That's how you'll control the population that we brought here. We drove through Gros Morne last year and saw 14 moose in about 20 minutes. That's too much. From the guy a couple of houses down from me to one of the province's senators, nobody is safe from these animals." - 33, public servant
"There's a danger that it turns into another moose situation. I know it's not the same case, as coyotes made it here on their own, but some of the troubles are the same. There's a population control issue that in turn is putting people at risk. If you don't properly monitor the population and control it, it will get out of hand every time and start interfering with people." - 19, university student, occasional hunter
"I think it's a real safety issue. I know plenty of people in [this] community who won't go for a walk in certain areas where the coyotes have been seen. Some people don't like their kids to play near the more wooded areas. I can't blame them, when my kids were younger I wouldn't have been comfortable with coyotes around. Now, I've never seen one, but I was told there was one seen just out the road from us. Hope I never sees one either. You can't let them get too comfortable here." - 56, fulltime grandmother
"I know this sort of thing happens everywhere but how do animals all of a sudden enter into a new place? Let's use coyotes as an example. How did they get here? I'm curious about that. We're an island and it's a pretty significant swim. I don't imagine Marine Atlantic would sell them a cabin. I don't say Air Canada allows that kind of freight although I bet they'd find someway to overcharge them if they did. Years ago I can understand a small sample of animal boarding a ship and land here, like rodents or something, but how does a coyote end up here? Some would suggest that they floated here on ice pans. Would the ice pans really explain that though? Just one coyote I could see, even a handful or a dozen. But did enough coyotes really float here on ice pans to sustain a population? What am I missing here? I don't get how a new species can simply all of a sudden be here. Be different if we were on the mainland and they just walked, but we're a different case. Thoughts?" - 24, grad student
"Wikipedia tells us that 11 species have been introduced to this province. They started introducing species in 1860 with the Snowshoe Hare and the most infamous introduction was the moose, not once but twice (1878 and 1902). According to that site the last species that was introduced happened in 1963 with the American Red Squirrel. I have no idea what an American Red Squirrel is. I Googled that too and it just looks like a regular squirrel to me. Better than that it was first catalogued in Hudson Bay, which is in CANADA! Why isn't it the Canadian Red Squirrel then? And from the pictures online it doesn't even look red, more orange, so let's try this again: why isn't the American Red Squirrel actually called the Canadian Orange Squirrel? Generally I'm fine with a new species being introduced as long as it's done properly; I'm caught up in the naming process." - 18, soon-to-be-university student
"When I think of native species I think of the Pine Marten. Now, I'll be honest, I thought the Pine Marten was extinct. But apparently the Marten is considered to be endangered and is protected under federal and provincial Act that govern endangered species and parks. Here's something else I didn't know: there's levels of endangerment. At first the Marten was considered 'threatened' and then a decade later it was classified as 'endangered' when the population dropped to 300. There may be other criteria around changing classifications but I'm not sure. In 2007 the species was again classified as 'threatened' as the population went up again. When I mentioned it to a friend who said she was sure that the Marten was extinct, I agreed. The underlying lesson here is that information about the Marten and other similar species is not common knowledge, in fact far from it. How many people can tell you if the Marten is extinct, endangered, or threatened, or tell you who determines that or how they determine that? I bet a lot more people will be able to tell you who got voted off Survivor last week." - 33, engineer
"I think we should introduce something that would make people want to come here. Either as a tourist attraction or as a hunting experience. The hunting experience idea might not work though. I was thinking of sectioning off a big piece of the middle of the island, put a road there, and charge a boatload of money for extreme hunters to come in. But there are ethical and safety issues there, so forget I mentioned it. But we have plenty of unused land that we could turn into another Salmonier Park. People love to come see animals. Thousands of people go to Cape St Mary's every year to see a bunch of birds. Imagine if we had something exotic, like an African lion, zebra or giraffes. You put a part-zebra, part-giraffe farm outside of Clarenville and see how many people will there every year. I'll go." - 48, 'expert' hunter
¹ Species (MGM, 1995), with Natasha Henstridge.
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