Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Protection for the Wild Turkey

North America's wild turkey was hunted almost to extinction. Both Canada and the United States experienced severe declines in their numbers. My father long lamented the fact that he had not seen a wild turkey in our woods in many, many years.

Then, just a few years ago … there they were! We were all thrilled to see these birds take up residence in our woods. When species return to an area after long absences, it is encouraging. You really do begin to feel optimistic about the state of the natural world. Maybe there is hope! Our environmental programs might just be working after all.

So it is especially disheartening when the hunters turn up at the first whiff of a "wild turkey" dinner. This happened on Thanksgiving Sunday. Unfortunately, we cannot do too much about what neighbouring landowners allow on their properties, but when the damage affects what we are trying to achieve at White's Wetlands, it is particularly disheartening.

That Sunday I witnessed a flock of wild turkeys flushed out into our open fields as shots rang out from the woods. The birds were clearly distressed and confused. I felt so helpless. There was no action I could take at the moment because I would have caused them to fly back into the line of fire. Fortunately, they flew into our south woodlot, nearest me.

I never did see the hunters, although I heard their guns as I stood at the end of the lane. I am not sure if these big "weekend" game hunters bagged any members of the flock for their Thanksgiving meal, but I am hoping not. Not when domestic turkeys are in abundance in the supermarkets.

The other aspect to this whole sickening affair was the fact that the gate to our Wetlands was ajar, evidence of trespassing. Not only is trespassing on private property illegal, firing a weapon within city limits is as well. White's Wetlands is within city limits.

For the record here, hunting is not allowed on White's Wetlands. We are trying to protect existing species as well as their habitat.

So a word of warning: hunters beware! You are spotted on our property, the police will be called. You are breaking the law.

In the meantime, check out how wild turkeys are being protected in the United States on the Care 2 site:

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