“Thank God they’re gone!”
Two minutes prior: “Nice to meet you, have a nice flight.”
One hour prior: “Do you have a hunting license?”
“No”, I replied. “Why?”
“You’ve been hunting racoons.”,
“They’re vermin, they were in the building and they were eating our food.”
“Okay so it’s okay to kill them without a license then, but you can’t use any part of the animal, you have to dispose of those hides.”
What a pile of bureaucratic bullshit! We’re talking about an introduced, invasive species; one that has wreaked havoc on the natural seabird nesting sites of the Ancient Murrelets, at least two kinds of Auklets and other seabirds. This vermin does not belong here! EOS!
To be fair, the rationale that you cannot use or sell/give/trade any part of an animal, when killed for reasons such as in this case – and without a license – does have merit. For instance, if the racoon naturally occurred on these islands they would naturally be a valuable component of the ecosystem and vital to the food chain. Thus, we would not want to encourage hunting them by allowing people to keep/sell/trade any part of the animal when killed without a license. That would obviously have a detrimental impact on their numbers and on the ecosystem in which they live. However, even licensing, as has been historically shown, does not necessarily always protect against that. Furthermore, that is clearly not the case on Haida Gwaii.
Here on Haida Gwaii, the raccoon was introduced in the 1940’s in an attempt to boost the languishing fur trade — ie, once the Sea Otter was hunted to extinction (Yes, that was licensed and encouraged). Once established it became apparent that they were having a devastating impact on nesting sites of the Ancient Murrelet and two varieties of Auklets, as well as other seabirds. Since then, the Provincial Ministry of Environment has itself spent many dollars and much time in half-hearted attempts to eradicate the raccoon from Haida Gwaii.
So here we are with three dead raccoons, no license to hunt, but with a valid reason for killing them. Given all the information above, it is clear and understandable why we would kill the raccoons — even to the Natural Resource Officer — and it is also clear that profit, or some other sort of gain from the pelts, was not the motive. There is also documented justification for killing them provided by the very Government that this officer is employed by. Yet, try as I might, I was unable to get this Officer to explain to me how it is of any consequence to the powers that be, the critters that used to be, or to the price of raisins on Proxima B, for that matter, if we keep these pelts.
In fact, if these critters can be used in anyway, it brings about a natural justification for their (prior) existence in this place. Now, at least their rotting corpses are feeding the same ecosystem that their kind has had such a devastating impact on and further, their finished pelts will be used as well.
Certainly on Haida Gwaii, the only GOOD raccoon is a DEAD raccoon!
Among other things, this was largely the colour of the questioning we were subjected to by our visitors the other day. There were four of them. Two Natural Resource Officers, a Park Ranger and a fourth person whose position we were not clear on. The one who harassed me over the racoons and other things, was the only one who raised my ire. The other three were very reasonable and quite likeable.
While my elevated exchange over the racoons was going on, one of them leaned into Wendi and said, “Don’t worry about him”.
Their reason for coming was not made clear to me before hand and in fact, we were given only one day’s notice of their arrival. Our Manager didn’t seem to have been kept in the loop about this “follow-up inspection” either. He let us know they were coming but didn’t seem to have a clue as to who was coming or why. All I can say is that it’s hard to represent a company in the face of an inter-departmental inspection of the facility when you haven’t been briefed on any of the concerning issues.
EOR, thanks for listening.
© Ron Morrison 2016