Federation of Anglers and Hunters calls for Island turkey study to continue

SUDBURY—As far as the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) is concerned, the cancellation of the environmental assessment looking at the possible future release of wild turkeys on Manitoulin Island is not a dead issue.

“This is not a dead issue as far as we are concerned,” stated Roy Polsky, president of the OFAH Zone D, on Monday, after a OFAH Zone D meeting in Sudbury. “In regards to the cancellation of the environmental assessment study for wild turkey and pheasant that had been cancelled by the MNR (Ministry of Natural Resources), at the federation level this has been discussed and we are trying to get this reviewed and revived.”

“We are trying to have this reviewed because of the amount of money that has been spent, I understand about $400,000 so far on the study,” said Mr. Polsky. He noted, “the MNR spent $160,000 to do a study of turkey feeding habitats on Tobermory, which is the same as the Island. And they (MNR) had spent a lot of money on a project manager for a couple of years, paying the high costs of this salary and expenses in carrying out this work.”

As reported in the September 21, 2012 edition of the Recorder, Rick Calhoun of the MNR told the Recorder, “the environmental assessment work that was being carried out to look at relocating wild turkeys and pheasants to Manitoulin has been indefinitely postponed.”

Mr. Calhoun explained the reason for this decision had to do with the costs involved to carry out the study. “It would cost a significant amount, between $920,000 and $1 million plus, and in this economic time it was deemed not feasible as this project is outside the core business work of the ministry.” He also explained that combined with the significant economic concern, there was concern that with the introduction of wild turkeys and pheasants it could have affects on other species at risk. “It was decided it would not be appropriate to go ahead at this time, therefore the environmental assessment project has been indefinitely postponed.”

However, Mr. Calhoun pointed out the ministry will complete the work it has already begun in preparation for the full EA. The ministry, “spent $80,000 last year on a project designed for Manitoulin on the Bruce Peninsula which already has wild birds. Studies were undertaken on the bird’s behaviour and feeding habits (this part of the project will be completed this year). Last year we trapped some of the wild birds and put radio collars on them (on the Bruce) and we will be capturing some this year to get information we had been looking for. This will form the knowledge we will need in the future if this project ever comes up again.”

The OFAH Zone D members gave its support to its main organization to lobby the MNR to review and reconsider its decision to cancel the EA wild turkey and pheasant study work.

Tom Sasvari