Man interferes with nature

Photos submitted by Carol Walberg


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A protective mom fiercely guards her nest

It would appear that the human has once again interfered with nature to its detriment.

There are foxes on Chantry Island and it is suspected that they have been live-trapped on the mainland and transported to the Island in the expectation that they would reduce the Cormorant population.  Unfortunately, those who may have done this did not realize the consequences, or if they did and acted any way, then it is even worse.

First of all, the Cormorant, like the Great White Egret, nests high in the trees - not likely that a fox would have any affect unless it has mastered a climbing ability.  It is true that some Cormorants nest on the ground as well as in trees, however.

Great White Egrets high in the trees

What has happened however, is that all the baby chicks of those species that nest on the ground have been destroyed and/or the eggs eaten.  A disastrous affect for a migratory bird sanctuary.

Only two chicks remain ...

 According to sources, only two chicks have survived thanks to a clever mom who made her nest in an obscure place below a walk-way and keeps her new chicks out on the water.

A clever mom outsmarts the fox ... so far

Unfortunately, it would also appear that the government is prepared to do little about the situation, as evidenced by the response set out below:

"I am responding to a fax sent to Chip Weseloh regarding the presence of foxes on Chantry Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary and possible actions.

Please be aware that, in the past, it has been reported that citizens from the adjacent mainland have occasionally live trapped foxes and raccoons and released them on the island to reduce the numbers of cormorants and gulls nesting there.

This is illegal but enforcement agents need to be on site to intervene. I know this has been the case as I have relatives who live in the area that I visit regularly and it has been brought to my attention on several occasions.

I have also advised persons attending public meetings in the past that this is illegal and that it only is harming ground nesting gulls and not the tree nesting cormorants as they hope.

As such, Environment Canada will not be attempting to remove predators that may be found on the island from time to time as they would be expected to be difficult to capture via a live trap (if they have been live-trapped and moved to the island) and it would be difficult to dispatch them via other means.

It is highly unlikely that mammals live there year round as food would be difficult to find from December to March.  It is more likely that they either arrived by live trapping and release, or crossing the ice in March before ice-out and just before birds start nesting on the island. In the absence of people transporting them to the island, there would be few years when foxes would be expected to be found on the island in numbers sufficient to have an impact on the nesting birds.

Thank you for the information and if you do encounter someone releasing foxes or raccoons on the island record their boat number or other possible identification features so we might identify them. Do not confront them.

If you wish further discussion on this matter please do not hesitate to contact me as the staff person responsible for management of Migratory Bird Sanctuaries in Ontario."


Jeff Robinson

Protected Areas Co-ordinator
Environment Canada
Canadian Wildlife Service- Ontario


Robinson says that   "...there would be few years when foxes would be expected to be found on the island in numbers sufficient to have an impact on the nesting birds."  It would appear that this is one of the those years because the impact has been horrendous. 

... the last

Local  volunteers who work on the island maintaining it and carefully conducting tours so as not to disrupt the nesting birds are very concerned over the decimation.  The nesting birds and their young also played a large part in the Island's attraction for tourists

To those who may have taken part in this interference with nature, 'you have truly done a dastardly deed' and should be ashamed. 

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Sunday, July 11, 2010