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chare 07-19-2004 05:12 PM

Nature's Poachers
Last year for the two weeks that we fished for Atlantic salmon in a river in Labrador the lower two pools had a feeding loon as a resident "guest". It was there when we arrived and was still there when we left. I wonder how much of the resource that bird destroyed and whether or not such an occurance should be permitted. I know a number of anglers (myself included) tried without success to drive the bird away. When I expressed my concers to a river warden, he suggested that there was nothing that he could do and to "put it in writing" to the appropriate government department. This year the grilse run was noticably smaller (only a fraction of other years). No doubt low water levels and high water temps could be the factor and they might increase later but if a feeding loon spent a whole summer feeding in the river it must surely have had an effect?
This season we also visited another Labrador river farther north...access made possible by a new road(dirt) which goes as far as Cartwright. This one also had a resident poacher...a seal! The do-gooders who have played havoc with the annual seat hunt here in Newfoundland have already caused a catastrophic decrease in the cod population and now the seals, whose numbers have risen dramatically, are obviously turning to the rivers as a source of food.
Both these creatures...the loon and the seal...are well known for the huge amounts of fish they consume. When they threaten a precious resource that is already decreasing in numbers, what should be done?

Willie Gunn 07-20-2004 01:48 AM

I thought everyone in America had the right to carry arms.
Shoot them

Dble Haul 07-20-2004 08:26 AM

Since Labrador is in Canada, the American right to bear arms doesn't really apply. :wink:

As for shooting these animals, I'd be darned sure that they aren't protected before I took such action. I know that loons are protected in many states, so it may also be the case in certain Canadian provinces.

DFix 07-20-2004 08:38 AM

Malcolm, I'm sure you really don't think shooting something so popular that the government recognizes it on currency is a valid option :tsk_tsk: :rolleyes:

Willie Gunn 07-20-2004 03:24 PM


Originally Posted by Dble Haul
Since Labrador is in Canada, the American right to bear arms doesn't really apply. :wink: .

Never could quite work out the colonies former or otherwise.


Originally Posted by Dble Haul
As for shooting these animals, I'd be darned sure that they aren't protected before I took such action. I know that loons are protected in many states, so it may also be the case in certain Canadian provinces.

Reminds me of the old scottish gamekeeper that shot a bird of prey which was damaging his grouse he was berated by a passing busybody who pointed out that the species was protected, he walked over poked at the dead bird with his foot and said "well that booger wasnae"

BobK 07-21-2004 06:31 AM

Misspent youth...
That story reminded me of my youth - my buddy and I were varmint hunting near my favorite grouse cover. A large goshawk was sitting on a post about 175 yards away, intently surveying the cover. I quickly got into prone position and was aiming through the scope when my buddy said, "But they're protected...."

I quickly replied, "No one protecting HIS a$$!" followed by POW and a cloud of feathers.....

(I was a bad kid!!!)

BobK :rolleyes:

OC 07-21-2004 04:54 PM

We have the same problems out here in the Pacific Northwest with seals and indians. Hmmm, resident "guests" I guess what you mean by that is Loons are residents and we are guests, eh! Oh, maybe we are residents too. I think we should shoot the loons if we can prove in a court of law that they have over fished the resourse for the last 50 years with gill nets, land development, over harvest of timber and the over bonking of mature fish by sport fishermen. I think we should do the same out here with the seals and indians eh!

Feiger 07-26-2004 09:49 PM

Amen OC...
Reminds me of Aldo Leopold's writing - "Thinking Like a Mountain"
in describing his own youth, referencing his younger days of a proponent of predator elimination to create a hunter's paradise. After shooting a half dozen wolves he and his companion had come across, he made this observation--

"We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes--something known only to her and to the mountain. I was young then, and full of trigger itch. I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean a hunters' paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view."

Aldo goes on to relate his observations of the elimination of the wolf from the western US, and the affect the abundance of deer that resulted - destroyed summer and winter range habitat, loss of species diversity, and ultimately, after a dramatic increase in deer populations, the even more dramatic crash of same populations due to trashed habitats.

"Only the mountain has lived long enough to listen objectively to the howl of the wolf."

I hear often the finger pointing that comes with declines in favorite species, whether they be atlantic salmon, steelhead, pacific salmon species, deer, elk, grouse, you name it. And as often as not, the predator blame game comes out en force... Yet no one stops to objectively look at the role they themselves have played in that desired species decline? Are "we" not the ones that have damed the rivers we cherish? Have we not encouraged, or at least not spoken against, over harvest on our seas, river mouths and inland streams? Are we not the ones that have encouraged, or at least not spoken against, damaging logging and other land use plans that are a detriment to our rivers we again cherish? Are we not the ones that have created the Locks and other bottle necks that allow a natural predator to become that much more effective, and fat and happy? I have yet to see a situation where a truely predator and predatory problem exists. In every situation, a finger can be pointed at the man in the mirror, for decisions made, actions implemented, and shameful silence maintained, that is truely the root of the problem. My bench mark? 15 years as a wildlife biologist. As I have said before in this forum - in order to change the world, and the resources we love that are in peril, we must first change the person looking back at us in the mirror...... Killing the loons, the seal, the goshawk, the wolf, that's not the answer... reducing or eliminating the effects of human presence on this world is....

time to tie flies for my alaska trip - the monstor rainbows, cohos and char await!!! :smokin: :smokin:

Tod D 07-28-2004 11:49 AM

Amen x2 Feiger...

Reminds me of the annual lament over the plover here in Massachusetts...

juro 07-28-2004 12:41 PM

Well said OC, Feiger. Tilting the scale artifically because of an inbalance we created does not accurately measure our success as stewards of the resource.

chare 07-28-2004 04:21 PM

Juro & Feiger
If we allow situations such as those I have mentioned to continue, Juro, there will be no resource for us to be a stewart of! Regardless of what we as a species have done to cause, or aggreviate this problem, it exists and to allow such situations to continue is nothing short of a crime. The problem with most biologists(marine, anyway) is that they don't have a da*m clue as to what is going on in the oceans. That is why we have so many problems today in our commercial fishery here in Newfoundland. They have never listened (and still don't) to those who are in the best position to know...the fishermen. Perhaps, if you were sincere about your concern for the environment, Feiger, you would cancel your Alaska trip and stop tormenting the poor fish and putting them under stress...resulting in reduced spawning yields, released fish that die, fish too weak to spawn,etc., etc., etc.....

chare 07-28-2004 11:59 PM

Let's smell the coffee!
If we don't make an effort to tilt the scale artifically in situations such as these, juro, tell me what would eventually be the purpose of conducting a spey clave? Obviously, not to catch fish which lie in relatively protected areas in the middle of larger rivers...there will be no fish in those areas to catch. So, I guess the purpose of any fly fishing school or spey clave would be to teach the participants the fundamentals of casting, with the ultimate goal of being able to boast of how long a line he or she could cast...over barren waters, mind you. If that is what thrills boast of how long a line he or she can cast...I think they are a performer, not a fisherman.
I would suggest that the presence of a seal, well upriver from the ocean, is itself an artificial situation. At least, it is here in the rivers I have been fishing for over forty years. An artificial situation brought about by the irresponsible actions of liberal do-gooder groups such as Green Peace and The International Organization for Animal Welfare which effectively put a stop to the annual seal hunt off our shores and caused a massive increase in the seal population. Killing a seal in such a situation as this then can hardly be classed as an artifical "fix". The situation that allowed it to be there in the first place is what is artificial.
I don't think it would be long before Walton's(?, I believe it was Walton's)premise that the anticipation of catching a fish arose even as one approached water that one knew had been fished out would very soon get a little stale. At least, I think it would for most TRUE fishermen. Perhaps not for "line casters".

Feiger 07-29-2004 01:34 AM

Oh yes, the "we must save nature from itself" arguement...
Wow, with all my rants on this forum, I finally get a response... And its a live one... :chuckle:

thanks for proving my point... :hihi: Lets not look at the root cause of WHY seals are umpteen miles up the river... Lets not look at the "irresponsible right wing neo-conservative dogma" (since we'ver resorted to name calling...) that is all earth's resources are created simply for our glutonous consumptive greed and use. Lets not look at the irresponsible harvest of cod, and albacore tuna and every other sea food source with a commercial value, who's limits and regulations are rarely based upon science and those marine biologists who don't know a damn thing, but rather set by who's political representative got paid more by the right people in the previous election. Let's not take a look at a fishing industry that takes more commercial fish out of the ocean (not to mention the bi-catch) in a month than a local population of seals will take in a year, not to mention the loon... No, instead, let's blame a creature that's species has been on this continent for many a millenium longer than our own for trying to make a living in habitats we've screwed up. Of course, why didn't i see it before, it IS the seal's fault... how dare he eat "our" salmon, and "our" cod, and our... We MUST save nature from itself... Nature, left to its own devices, is crude and wasteful, and certainly doesn't take man's "needs" into consideration... The obvious solution, kill ever seal that comes into a river, kill every loon we see (cause by golly, it might one of "our" baby salmon that worthless feathered creature eats...)... Can't have that, now can we... While we're at it, lets get rid of everything that does harm to our precious salmon... oh wait, that'd mean we'd have to get rid of ourselves... damn. that's a b***h... :roll: :roll:

as for your last comment to me... those three salmon a day will suffer only long enough to be brought to shore and bonked on the head, processed and packaged, and brought home to be enjoyed by myself and my friends and family. Nope, not much tormenting going on there. And i won't loose a wink of sleep over it, because for every one I take, there are dozens that will take its place on the spawning ground, where they'll die inevitably, regardless of the lack of hook-in-mouth disease... :lildevl: Because those runs still functions, even WITH the seals and loons and every thing else... But since you brought up "sincere concern for the environment", I'm assuming that's exactly what you intend to do - hang up YOUR rod forever?? :eek: :eek: :smokin:

Feiger 07-29-2004 01:39 AM

Juro - When's the Circus coming to town...
now that you've been labeled a performer... :roll: :roll: But hey, at least you can cast a long line!!! And every one knows its the size (and the length) that matters most!!! :hihi: :hihi: :hihi: :lildevl: :smokin: see ya in the center ring!!! :cool:

juro 07-29-2004 08:22 AM

Chare -

Actually, I do see your point in that we are already at a point where we justify making "adjustments" to deal with our current sad state of affairs. Simple math would make it seem like the right thing to do, subtract b to prevent reduction of a. However still two wrongs don't make things right for the salmon and the solution to the core problem is not correlative genocide of another inter-related species thrown out of balance by our very own actions.

Case in point - sitka spruce and the pine weevil. In nature, when sitka spruce occurs in a certain density an explosion of a weevil population occurs and the trees die. This is by design in nature, and when we plant the same trees too close to each other we find out 20-30 years later that we messed up. Nature has a level of complexity that we can barely comprehend never mind master. These are just trees we are talking about, not the magnificent salmon and steelhead trout of the world.

I would respectfully contend that such adjustments aimed at erradicating other species are only band-aids that prove our ineptitude in managing mother nature correctly. In my opinion, it is a step directly in the wrong direction.

In many things, including casting instruction, we are taught to identify the core problem and treat that first and foremost. The core problem with salmon depletion is not the loon. Loss of habitat has made returns of many millions of salmonids become extinct in North America. Open seas exploitation by commercial fishermen in Greenland has been among the most impactive forces working against salmon whose home rivers range over several countries.

In nature, the birds and pinipeds serve a role in the same rhythm that all other organisms abide by, that is all but one. In my most humble opinion, the best thing we can do is to ensure that nature is given enough berth to achieve her magic and play God the very least possible, or better yet not at all.

Thanks for the compliments on my casting :wink:

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