Letter: Whooping crane death means more than the loss of an endangered creature

Dear Editor: 

Whooping cranes are the very symbol of endangered species. There are a mere 500 in the wild, and it has taken decades of work to bring them back even to that number. The young female whooping crane, 37-17, that someone shot on Barrie Island on May 5, is a great loss. She was only two years old, raised in captivity to help build up the flock, but still several years from maturity.

The death of 37-17 cannot be shrugged off. She represented hope, the hope that mankind could save the whooping crane population and the populations of other species at risk from extinction. I am saddened not only by the loss of this beautiful individual but for all species at risk. Mankind is driving them into oblivion. If we don’t take more serious steps to protect them, they face insurmountable odds against survival. That includes on our own Manitoulin Island.

Unfortunately, the conservative Ford government is doing just the opposite, gutting the Endangered Species Act and making protection of endangered species a political football, subject to the whims of the environment minister of the day, not subject to fact-based science. The new “pay-to-slay” provision will even allow developers to pay a fee to be allowed to destroy the habitats of endangered species!

On May 5, the shooter reminded us of the fragility of nature, and the destructive effect of one single bullet. As a symbol of the struggle of species to survive, 37-17 deserves to be mourned.

I urge everyone who wants to protect species at risk from extinction to write to the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, Rod Phillips, to protest against Bill 108, an omnibus “housing” bill that, if passed, will gut the Endangered Species Act. His email is: rod.phillips@pc.ola.org. If he doesn’t reply, or replies with a stock brush-off, write again and again until he at least acknowledges your concerns.

Jan McQuay