Wild tur­keys re­duce tick risk

Annapolis Valley Register - - OPINION - Jim Vib­ert

Nova Sco­tia’s Nat­u­ral Re­sources De­part­ment re­cently of­fered some gra­tu­itous ad­vice, gleaned from a sign at the wildlife park it runs on the Colch­ester County side of the Shube­nacadie River. ‘Don’t fed the bears.’

The ad­mo­ni­tion is re­quired at the park, where peo­ple will mis­judge a caged varmint as a tamed crit­ter, but do you re­ally need to be told not to serve lunch to that 400-pound black bear loung­ing in your yard?

No, you don’t. Or at least, you shouldn’t. Nat­u­ral se­lec­tion took care of you back when Ne­an­derthals were still shar­ing the soil with Homo Sapi­ens, and soft­hearted and headed beast-feed­ers be­came part of the repast. The fool­hardy gene re­ceded, and the self-preser­va­tion gene be­came dom­i­nant un­til re­cently when the for­mer mys­te­ri­ously re-emerged among some ur­ban dwellers who have come to con­fuse fur with friendly.

What could be cuter than a rac­coon gnaw­ing on the hand that briefly held the car­rot in­tended as the meal.

Ur­ban an­i­mals used to refer to the co­hort I ran with in my 20s. To­day, if you go to Truro and don’t see a deer you likely missed the turnoff and you’re in New Glas­gow.

And, yes, lots of folks in my home­town think the deer are just dar­ling. They feed them and so add to the grow­ing herd and dis­cour­age pesky mo­tor­cy­clists from tak­ing a trip to Vic­to­ria Park. The park’s no prob­lem. It’s too rugged for the deer, but Young Street at dusk can be a doe-dodg­ing lif­erisk­ing ride.

The pro-deer lobby in Truro says things that on the sur­face seem worth con­sid­er­a­tion like: “They (the deer) were here be­fore we (the peo­ple) were, so they have a right to eat your let­tuce.” Ex­cept when Charlie Archibald in­cor­po­rated Truro in 1875 there wasn’t a white tail in Nova Sco­tia. They were in­tro­duced al­most a quar­ter cen­tury later.

Facts can’t com­pete with the emo­tional delu­sions of self­anointed saviours who have de­cided that the beasts of the land are truly the least among us and so, ac­cord­ing to Luke, the great­est. These folks are tough to con­vince that a squir­rel is a rat with a ge­net­i­cal­ly­mod­i­fied tail and great PR man. Best not try.

It is prob­a­bly mere co­in­ci­dence that a group near Truro has re­vived the drive to in­tro­duce wild tur­keys to the prov­ince. The same de­part­ment that warns you not to feed the bears has re­jected wild tur­key – the bird not the bour­bon – in­tro­duc­tion to the prov­ince, based on some science and con­sul­ta­tions with folks who like their birds on the wing not un­der­foot.

The wild tur­key lobby gained a po­ten­tially pow­er­ful ally re­cently in the per­son of CBRM mayor and Tory lead­er­ship hope­ful Ce­cil Clarke.

“Not only do these birds of­fer a sig­nif­i­cant eco­nomic op­por­tu­nity, but they are also known for eat­ing in­sects — like ticks. The tick pop­u­la­tion in Nova Sco­tia has sky-rock­eted this spring and the risk of Lyme disease is at an all-time high,” the would-be premier wrote on his Face­book page.

Clarke said if he’s premier he’ll take up the ef­fort to bring wild tur­keys to Nova Sco­tia and even help or­ga­nize the an­nual tur­key shoot, although he may have phrased that last part dif­fer­ently.

Ex­actly how many wild tur­keys we’ll need to rid the place of deer ticks is hard to de­ter­mine, but its prob­a­bly a lot, so that the risk of trip­ping over one when you’re walk­ing in the woods is roughly equiv­a­lent to your cur­rent chances of con­tract­ing Lyme Disease.

Ah, but pol­i­tics is about balanc­ing the risks and re­wards. And the re­wards from shoot­ing, pluck­ing, clean­ing and cook­ing your very own wild bird at Thanks­giv­ing are hard to over­state, although I think I just did.

Talk­ing tur­key re­minds me of a visit a few years back to the Blue Ridge Moun­tains, where you’ll find some of the big­gest, ugli­est birds you’re ever go­ing to see. Un­sure ex­actly what they were, I asked a lo­cal.

“That’s a tur­key buz­zard. Don’t you have tur­key buz­zards where you come from?” Assured we do not, my in­cred­u­lous wildlife in­struc­tor won­dered: “What eats stuff when it dies?” What, in­deed.

Maybe it’s tur­key buz­zards Nova Sco­tia needs. Ap­par­ently, it’d save on the cost of clean­ing up all the rac­coon, por­cu­pine, deer and, if there’s a Premier Clarke, tur­key car­casses ly­ing around.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.