Beware the Ides of March

The soothsayer’s dire “beware the Ides of March” to Julius Caesar in 44 BC has taken on new meaning this year; that and flying kites. Even in the ’toons, one sooths sad truths: the coloured Classic Peanuts of March 7 showing Charlie Brown, a red kite hung on his nose, and saying “Eventually, I may have to give up kite flying,” immediately brings Premier Jim Prentice to mind.

The soothsayer’s dire “beware the Ides of March” to Julius Caesar in 44 BC has taken on new meaning this year; that and flying kites.

Even in the ’toons, one sooths sad truths: the coloured Classic Peanuts of March 7 showing Charlie Brown, a red kite hung on his nose, and saying “Eventually, I may have to give up kite flying,” immediately brings Premier Jim Prentice to mind.

Prentice has been running around like a demented Charlie Brown, flying kites in the vicinity of not just one, but whole forests of kite-eating trees and, eventually, totally frustrated, tells Albertans to “look in the mirror” to see who’s to blame for the money mess Alberta is in.

The Calgary Herald immediately debunked the interpretation, “you voted us in, after all,” by noting Prentice would not likely mean that to people whose vote he will soon be seeking again in a threatened provincial election.

Agreed, but it is a well-known symptom of depressed people that they often do not recognize the person they are seeing in their mirror.

So many of Prentice’s kites of salvation had been shot down — a sales tax, graduated income tax, increased user fees, increased oil and gas royalties, drastic services cuts — that I think he was asking Albertans if they were seeing a perpetual free-loading bottom feeder in the mirror, or were they going to start paying for the perks and services they demand?

Not only is it kite flying-season, in fact as I write, but the official new fishing season starts in just two weeks. I have finally obtained a copy of the 2015 Alberta Guide to Sportfishing Regulations, and clear indication of more kite-flying: government employees telling me that the magazine is on borrowed time and will become a thing of the past.

I’ll work on what that might mean for next week.

If fishing season is coming on, can mud-bogging ATV operators be far behind, adding to the watershed destruction that has put Alberta native fish and fisheries into crisis mode? Two ATV invasions, organized by Events Unleashed, planned for May in the Ghost-Waiparous area and in July in the Castle wilderness area, are hyped on the events Facebook page with reassuring pleas like “Let’s Rip S–t Up” and “Be sure your rig has a snorkel.” The government could fly a kite here for its often-promised but never delivered ATV controls on public land by denying permission to hold these events, which resemble the adolescent social media invitations to high school kids to crash a party and trash someone’s house.

A 14-year-old Bighorn ram road-killed west of Longview four years ago, with a horn measurement of 209 and 4/8 inches, has now been confirmed by the Boone & Crockett Club as the new world record. The ram was measured recently in Red Deer, by a panel of four B&C official scorers. Happily, the horns beat out by 1-1/8 inches the former No. 1, taken near Luscar, on an expensive, bought and paid for special season hunt. The top six Bighorns in the B & C “book” are all from Alberta.

Many are wondering how the ram survived for 14 years. I’ll fly a kite and suggest it’s because, except for his occasional wanderings out to the road, he likely lived on a grazing lease hunted only by the lame, halt and blind, but very rich friends of the even richer leaseholder.

A one ton kite the federal government has been flying for the past several years has finally landed with an earthshaking thump. Officials and some influential private lobbyists have been testing the waters for the pipedream of planting bison in Banff National Park.

Because of concerns raised by many opponents of the idea, such as the Alberta Fish and Game Association, the feds are set to go ahead, but with a much scaled-down trial run of a five-year pilot project of 30 to 50 bison in the remote back country around the Panther and Dormer Rivers on the east -central side of the park.

Kites — airy ideas —no more, all of the big brutes will have to be flown in by helicopter, which debunks the idea that bison were ever there in the “good old days,” and is also ruinously expensive, as are the miles of fence to insure they stay there.

The AFGA is concerned about disease and habitat fragmentation problems the fences and the big beasts can pose to other wildlife, particularly bighorn sheep.

With bison you also have to be concerned with public safety, in the park and wherever else the big beasts choose to go.

Personally I bet on the bison: they are migratory plains animals, animated bulldozers, and to the plains they will roam whenever they want, fences and blind canyons be damned.

Bison on the settled plains will make the current elk crisis near CFB Suffield look easy.

Bob Scammell is an award-winning columnist who lives in Red Deer. He can be reached at bscam@telusplanet.net.

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