Tonight I'll be at
St Columba's Church in French Creek doing the first of many Brant presentations over the next two months. Since 2003, I would estimate that I have done about 50 of these presentations, trying to get the word out about keeping dogs off of the beaches within the Parksville-Qualicum Wildlife Management Area. I've given this same talk at various community groups, churches, for the mayor and council of three different municipalities, at various government offices, at several different universities, and on TV and radio. The message in all of my talks is always the same; Allowing a domestic dog to harass wildlife can have serious consequences. Our research in this area has shown that it is taking longer and longer each year for the Brant to reach the peak condition needed to make the flight from here to Izembek Lagoon in Alaska, which is the next stepping stone on the long flight between Baja and the breeding grounds. The evidence is also mounting that birds which arrive in less than perfect condition on the nesting grounds, are far less likely to successfully fledge young. It is becoming obvious that human recreation in staging areas far to the south, is having negative effects on the breeding grounds, thousands of miles away. So when I hear excuse after excuse from dog owners again and again and again, I really have to chant the "serenity now" phrase to keep my patience.
Sadly, despite all of these talks, the work of the Brant Wildlife Festival over the past 21 years, the hard work of student volunteers from the Resource Management Officer Training (RMOT) program at Malaspina Univsersity, Conservation Officers and bylaw officials writing $230 tickets, and numerous signs posted all over the place, we still have people determined to allow their pets to pursue and harass Brant and other wildlife on our local beaches.
So, I'll keep trying to get the word out there, and someday, maybe, people will stop disturbing these birds as they attempt to rebuild their fat reserves, and continue on to the far north.