In defence of rabbits
The tension mounts, the drama unfolds, the officers survey the evidence at their feet as they snake down the trail. As they round every turn, their palms brush their sidearm holsters for comfort. They are keenly aware that the perpetrator lies ahead, as evidenced by his vehicle parked back on the highway.
Surely, this dispatcher of lives is perhaps armed with a knife or more likely with a deadly axe. Warned by a chopping sound of axe on wood, they creep around a turn in the trail and with the element of surprise, quickly have the advantage. There is the perpetrator, with the evidence at his feet, the dreaded “stainless steel rabbit snare.”
According to an article in the Jan. 28 edition of The Western Star, some version of this dramatized sequence of events unfolded in the Goose Arm area in November 2011. If the incident weren’t so disgusting, it would be amusing.
The 73-year-old gentleman, with “no previous record criminal or wildlife,” has probably enjoyed the pleasures and rewards of this activity for over 60 years, but is now branded a criminal. Just imagine his other half at home likely washing out her mason jars in anticipation of having some delicious and convenient meals in the months to come. Also, being on a fixed income, I’m sure he could have easily found a better use for the $100.
While the conservation officers are just doing their jobs, maybe a little discretion could be exercised. As I said before, with the banning of stainless steel snares, the government is making criminals of otherwise law-abiding citizens.
Conservation Minister Terry French, in this recent article, perpetuated the fallacy that the hunters were incorrect in their view that the alternative 22 gauge brass and 6strand picture cord snares were adequate. Doesn’t the minister know that the 85 per cent rabbit retention/martin escapement figures he keeps quoting are the results of highly controlled manipulations conducted in a small chain fenced unnatural enclosure on the Canadian prairie? These results are not close to being duplicated in the wild. Why are we being feed a constant diet of this misleading notion?
During the week of Jan. 29, CBC’S Radio Noon show debated rabbit snaring in Newfoundland. The guest host was author Earl Pilgrim, a well known and widely respected former Conservation Officer from Roddickton on the Northern Peninsula. Mr Pilgrim confirmed for the radio audience reports from records of hunters in his local area echoing what all other hunters have decried. That is from 40 to 50 per cent of the 22 guage brass and 6 strand picture cord snares are breaking and rabbits are escaping only to perish with some being caught with several broken snares on their necks.
The provincial government’s own stat i st ics repor t s that s ome 1,500,000 rabbits had been harvested annually. Does this mean that some 600,000 to 750,000 rabbit are now being wasted?
Isn’t it ironic that the rabbits were introduced as a food source for Newfoundland residents and given the government’s own statistics they are/were continued to be harvested. Now to enhance and feed the pine martin population the government has introduced the red backed vole into the province as food and at who knows what expense. In other words, the government is saying to hell with the residents and the rabbits, hail to the martins.
My curiosity has been peaked and I sometimes daydream as to what is going to happen when the rabbit population has been decimated and the martin made the abundant animal of choice in our forest. If they get too plentiful, my mind starts to consider some heretoforeunan swered questions: (1) Will we be allowed to use stainless steel snares to reduce their numbers? (2) Are martins good to eat? (3) If edible, does any one have any good recipes?
Walk proud, Mr Walsh. you are a victim, not a criminal. Once we as hunters stand up for our rights and enforce the fact that politicians are supposed to be our servants, not our masters, there may be some changes. But we better hurry as the government figures it has the upper hand with the rabbits and is now looking to destroy our moose. Larry Parsons writes from