Future for nature not so bright unless we change something

Nature is in turmoil. Who put it there? We did.

Future for nature not so bright unless we change something

Future for nature not so bright unless we change something

Nature is in turmoil.

Who put it there? We did. Instead of helping nature do her thing, the experts think they know better.

In my 90 years on this planet, I’ll say Mother Nature has done a fine job without our help. Nature was never in balance in the 1950s 60s and 70s. There was lots of game everywhere. Those were the days. When after you tagged out after a hunt. The logging slash was burnt in the late fall, just before the rains came. The next spring it was planned again for the following fall by forestry experts who knew that if the slash was not burned it could cause massive forest fires. (Like we have today.)

After the burns came the fireweed and that brought in the deer to forage in the forests of it. Deer love fireweed and they thrive on it. We can eat fireweed too. It has a sweet honey taste.

At that time it was not unusual to see bee hives were in an area that had been logged the year before.

Doug Holman had many hives in the hills. He did have a problem sometimes with bears. He lost honey sometimes until he put an electric fence around his hives and that seemed to solve the problem.

Since those days things have changed a lot. No more planting trees where its been logged, no more burning unless Mother Nature does it for us. This stopping of slash burning was not done to improve things, it was done to save money — for what and for who?

In those days there were a lot of jobs created in the forest industry.

That’s not the only thing that has changed, it has me absolutely baffled why are we always protecting game that are eating up what we should be protecting.

Take the black bear alone, their numbers are increasing 10 to 12 per cent a year. They alone will catch every deer or elk fawn they can, which I saw two different times. With their population increase alone it wouldn’t surprise me that they’re not having breakfast with you one day.

Now take the eagle, a lovely bird. We saved them, too, from being wiped out. No more marmots, you ask, what is killing them? Eagles.

A huge Douglas fir tree was felled a few years ago out on South Davis road in a new subdivision that was being developed. It had an abandoned eagle’s nest in it. When I inspected that nest a few days later I saw three small dog collars in the nest mixed in with the sticks. Did that mother eagle bring those lost dog collars for her eaglets to play with or did she bring your lost Fluffy for dinner one night?

In all my days in the woods working, hunting and fishing, I have seen eagles pick up fawns and marmots and eat them constantly. Why are there no more marmots you ask? These ground hogs are very docile animals and easy prey for eagles. Yes, I have seen these docile critters on Heather and Green Mountain many times get snatched away by everyone’s favourite bird. I guess the eagle had to eat something because there was no fish available at that time.

Next take the wolf. They are completely out of control. I don’t hunt anymore, (too damn old), but I still talk to hunters that come back from a hunting trip sometimes.

“What did you get I always ask?” Answer mostly, “nothing”. They claim they didn’t see a calf or a cow moose or elk. Zero. Very few deer, too, in the last few years. I don’t say we have to go out and exterminate these wolf critters. But put a hunting balance back to where we had it in the 50s, 60s and 70s, those were the years you could go out and pick your game. When you could say I am not going to shoot anything but a four point or better today. (Those days are gone forever.)

Now why are all these critters in our backyards? We took away their feeding grounds so they go down now where there is feed, and your lawn looks really good. But just before that in the 70s and 80s the wolf got told on the Mainland that we had an abundance of deer on Vancouver Island. So they came here by swimming across between the islands by the hundreds and in less than 10 years it became thousands. This according to a wildlife biologist I spoke to a while back.

Now there are not very many deer left high in the hills anymore either. What is left are in your backyard and down near the beaches or in Beacon Hill park in Victoria.

The wolves did not have a very good plan. What will the cougars eat when the deer are gone? Why, they will come into town looking for deer and eat your poodle or your house cat, or when things get really serious, they may try and take down a small child. Do not laugh, this has been happening in places over on the West Coast of the island and the wolves just took down a dog two weeks ago on Long Beach near Tofino. Years ago this was unheard of.

While the wolves were gorging themselves and having lots of pups. Just what a cougar likes. When the deer were all gone a cougar has no problem killing wolf pups or a full grown wolf if they have to and having one of them for dinner.

I also noted this year there are less raccoons around than years before. Cougars like a change in food, too, so raccoons instead of Fluffy the dog are a very good change of diet.

I’ll bet you wonder how does this old man know all this. I grew up on the Prairies and started hunting and fishing and trapping when I was 10 years old and became quite successful at it. During the war that was all the money I had, was from trapping, and even after the war I still needed to trap to supplement my income because jobs were scarce for a few years.

When I came to B.C. I knew I was in hunting heaven. I have hunted in every part of B.C. and parts of the Yukon too. I have hunted pretty much every animal available to me. I’ve hunted deer, elk, bear, goats, sheep, cougars and caribou. I have always loved the outdoors, I think it would not have been hard for me to become a hermit had I not met my beautiful wife Lorraine and had a family.

In the woods in good hunting country I would often stop at an ant hill and look it over. My hunting partners would say, “Haven’t you seen an ant hill before?”

“Lots of grouse here,” I would tell my partner.

I could always tell if there was a good grouse population by looking at the ant hill because if it was torn apart that meant that the mother grouse showed the grouse chicks where to find a fast and easy meal.

Yes, I will have to say Mother Nature has been very good to me in my 90 years on this planet. Yet the future does not look to bright unless we change something.

Jim Szaaz

Ladysmith