Farmers need our respect and support

Not to be charged when protecting their livelihood from rapacious wildlife

To the Expositor:

My reaction, after reading the article in the June 17 edition of the Expositor in regards to the Green Bay farmer who was charged with four offences by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) for shooting a goose that was doing extensive crop damage on his farm was one of complete dismay! This after the farmer was clearly told by the minister that he could shoot them if they were damaging crops. He is a good example of “the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing!” It’s quite evident that then-Minister Orazietti and our local COs are not on the same page!

Basically the MNRF is at present a grossly underfunded ministry that does not even have the ability to get “good science” for proper fish and wildlife management (and this is not going to change anytime soon as Premier Wynne seems bound and bent to spend the big dollars on infrastructure and transit in the GTA and urban south).

Upon doing a little research, it seems that in other states and provinces their MNRF’s mandate is to assist farmers and private landowners to deal with nuisance wildlife damage.

In Minnesota: farmers are allowed to kill black bears that are destroying corn fields—no permits required. All the farmer has to do is notify the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) each time he dispatches a bear.

Wisconsin DNR has the Wildlife Damage Abatement and Claims Program: its mandate is to provide damage prevention assistance and partial compensation to farmers for nuisance animal damage.

Just to our south our neighbour Michigan states that the role of the Michigan DNR is to “ensure the well being of the state’s wildlife while also assuring that wild animals are not posing a threat to human safety or creating unreasonable property, crop or livestock damage.”

A recent Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) biologist report states: if black bear populations exceed the average annual carrying capacity and in years where natural berry crops fail, bears will concentrate in agricultural field crops from miles around.

It is not hard to see how in our back country rural farming areas farmers can end up with overwhelming crop and livestock destruction—geese, sandhill cranes, whitetail deer, coyotes, foxes, raccoons and yes, black bears. And if you have ever seen an oats field that a couple of 300-pound bruins have waded around in you would instantly understand the plight of the farmer.

To me its quite clear: what Minister Orazietti said to the farmer makes sense—if farmers can’t protect their crops, what is the sense of trying to grow them?

The MNRF (those below the minister making decisions) really needs to re-think its attitude towards nuisance wildlife which do extensive damage very much like Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan does. They need to work with the farmer to make sure the proper steps are taken to reduce damage by wildlife as much as possible.

Farmers feed us; they need our support on this important issue. Let’s give it to them. Call, write or email both MMRF Minister Bill Mauro and our MPP and demand that they seek co-operation from the MNRF for the farmers, to protect them from costly crop and livestock loss!

Thank you,

Greg Young

Wikwemikong