Saturday, October 18, 2008
A REAL LIFE THING TO PONDER
I have a gadget on my iGoogle home page; maybe some of you have it, too, called “Things to Ponder.” Every time I go there it shows me another amusing thought to chuckle over. One of my favorites is “What was the greatest thing before sliced bread?” Another one I recall said, “What do you do if you see an endangered animal eating an endangered plant?” Well, around here, life is starting to imitate gadget art, only it doesn’t make me laugh, but seriously ponder the situation.
Just to recap, I currently live near Point Pelee, Ontario, which I have been calling the southernmost tip of Canada. More accurately, it’s the southernmost contiguous part of Canada. The piece of Canada that’s actually the most southern is Middle Island, one of the Erie Islands, a little archipelago that stretches across the Lake from the Pelee Tip in Ontario to Sandusky, Ohio, with the international border threading in between. And something appears to be out of balance. Canada’s Middle Island has a lot of double-crested cormorants. So many in fact Parks Canada deemed a cull was necessary. In the interests of saving space here, I’ll just sum up the Parks decision as determining that the cormorants were having an extremely detrimental effect of the delicate and much-reduced Carolinian forest system. Their abundant guano is killing rare and endangered flora, and the fauna that depend on it.
The only difference between the situation on Lake Erie and the quip on my gadget is that, as it turns out, Cormorants aren’t endangered. They’re not even native to this area. Well, that probably explains the “out of balance” part, but I still felt a pang of sorrow for them, as I saw them migrating back this spring (flying R to L), knowing that several days of sharp-shooting hunters were in their future. Yet when they migrated back again recently (photo, L to R) it didn’t seem like there was much of a dent in their numbers. That stream of birds stretched 180 degrees of my vision, and lasted for nearly two minutes! I’m told the cull will take place again over the next couple of years. Makes me wonder what’s next – a population explosion in scavenging turkey vultures?
Single Cormorant photo from Shutterstock