Forest companies should respect Migratory Bird Act

In B.C., hundreds of thousands if not millions of animals and nesting birds are killed at nesting times

To the editor;

Although it is great to see the public’s attention to the killing of Cecil the Lion (whether this act was “just” or not), I’m amazed at what little outcry there is here in B.C. for our own “Cecil’s”. They may be squirrels, chipmunks, martin, fisher, rabbits, baby bears, birds and the list goes on.

Here in B.C., every year, hundreds of thousands if not millions of animals and nesting birds are killed at the most critical time in their lives by the forest companies and BC Timber Sales. As these newborn animals and birds are in the trees or on the forest floor, the forest companies continue to harvest timber in this province, with little to no respect for wildlife and the law.

In Canada there is a law called the Migratory Bird Convention Act, which is one of the oldest laws in Canada. The law was put in place through negotiations between Canada, United States and Mexico to protect the most critical time period for migration birds travelling between the three countries, while they are nesting.

In most areas of the province, this time period is from April 15 to Aug. 1. During this time there is to be no forest extraction – unless the proper surveys have been done to ensure that there are no birds nesting in the trees that are to be harvested. These nests can, at times, be extremely difficult to find and require the skill of trained professionals to identify.

All other industries in the province, such as oil and gas, pipeline development, road construction, and mining development, strictly adhere to this act. It is a condition of their permits to operate and in many cases, cease to operate, during this time period.

For some reason the forest industry feels that it is above the law. It continues to operate during this most critical time period for all wildlife.

The BC Trappers Association has brought this issue to both the provincial and federal governments’ attention, and has held numerous discussions with forest companies and the Canadian Wildlife Service, all to no avail.

Many of these forest companies and the government have sought legal advice and the answer is always the same – it is illegal to harvest timber during this time period, without the proper precautions being taken.

We are seeing our forests being harvested at an alarming rate, with little to no regard for wildlife and its requirements for mature forests.

We are experiencing a year of serious drought in this province, with many of our creeks and streams drying up. One can only think that, if the forests were managed properly, our streams would still be flowing with clear cool water. This is also having an impact on the fish stocks – both freshwater species and salmon.

The impacts from this lack of respect for the law and mismanagement of our forests (along with one of nature’s greatest assets) will be long lasting and affect many for years to come.

We can only hope that all of our wildlife that is lost during this critical time period in our province can get the same attention as has Cecil the Lion in Africa. As a resident of this great province, I never knew that we had the ability to choose which laws we were going to abide by.

Brian Dack, president

BC Trappers Association