Short on brains and compassion

How can we best describe the shooters who opened fire recently on birds and other pond-dwelling creatures in a Nature Conservancy of Canada property east of Pine Lake?

How can we best describe the shooters who opened fire recently on birds and other pond-dwelling creatures in a Nature Conservancy of Canada property east of Pine Lake?

How about: ‘If their brains were gunpowder, they wouldn’t have enough to blow their noses.’

Area biologist Myrna Pearman came across the results of the shooting spree last week while checking bluebird nesting boxes in the area.

The wetlands are set aside by the federal government under its conservancy program to protect wildlife habitat.

Pearman found a muskrat, baby terns and a coot all slaughtered. And that’s just what she observed from the shore.

She also found 80 spent shotgun shells, three high-powered rifle casings and two dozen spent .22-calibre casings.

“I just couldn’t bear to launch the kayaks (her team was carrying), so we just walked up and down the ditch,” said Pearman, operations manager of the Ellis Bird Farm east of Blackfalds. “We dragged out the two baby terms, which are protected migratory birds. And we found the muskrat.” There were also dead birds floating beyond their reach.

Given the amount of spent gun casings found, those responsible spent some time blasting away. It would have been like shooting fish in a barrel.

For the most part, these water-dwelling creatures show little fear of humans, because the habitat is protected.

In fact, the area is protected under provincial and federal legislation.

Such federal conservancy areas are gems of nature, where the public, especially children, can observe undisturbed nature at its finest. It can be a wonderful learning experience — unless some idiot blows it apart.

“I’m just very upset people would be so irresponsible and so heartless,” said Pearman of the shootings.

She reported the incident to Alberta’s Report a Poacher program, which, much like Crime Stoppers, allows the public to report possible infractions in confidence. An investigation has been launched by the government.

Ken Kranrod of the Report a Poacher program said the public typically thinks poaching is all about hunting without a licence, or killing more animals than allowed. But legislation also includes abandoning, destroying or wasting animals.

“Definitely in this case, whoever did this, by essentially shooting and wasting these animals, that’s poaching,” said Kranrod. “It’s a really ugly thing that happens.”

It’s impossible to fathom what joy people experience in blasting away at peaceful, harmless creatures.

This isn’t the first time Pearman has come across such moronic behaviour at an local wetlands area. In June 2012, she was shocked to discover that a number of water birds were used as target practice in an area near Red Deer frequented by bird watchers and naturalists. Empty beer cans were found nearby.

Particularly heartbreaking was the disappearance of a family of protected migratory birds known as eared grebes.

Pearman had been photographing this rare species from the time of hatching, until the youngsters were old enough to take tours around the pond, safely riding on the backs of their parents.

Pearman imagined the worst. “I’m resigned to the fact they also shot them. … These are innocent parents feeding their babes and these are an uncommon species, especially the grebes.”

There we no arrests in the 2012 incident.

But it’s not too late.

Provincial budget cuts have dramatically reduced the number of wildlife officers on patrol. Report a Poacher was established to fill that void, urging the public to be vigilant and report any suspicious activities. The phone number is 1-800-642-3800.

If you know anything about either of these crimes, you should speak up. No good can come from condoning the deadly mix of stupidity and firearms use.

Rick Zemanek is a retired Advocate editor.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Council approved $22 million of financing to help keep Westerner Park sustainable. (Advocate file photo)
Red Deer city council approves $22M to keep Westerner Park viable after emotional debate

It’s vital ensure future success for the huge economic generator, says mayor

Red Deer Rebels goalie Chase Coward tries to find a loose puck during WHL action at the Centrium earlier this season. (Photo by ROB WALLATOR/Red Deer Rebels)
Changes on the horizon for Red Deer Rebels next season

New coach, roster adjustments among top priorities for Sutter this offseason

Renovations and construction have begun at Red Deer Dream Centre. (Photo contributed)
Renovations underway at Red Deer Dream Centre

Christian-based addictions treatment centre

Red Deer County's municipal planning commission gave approval for a new directional sign for a business located near Elnora.
(Image from Red Deer County)
Red Deer County garden centre and winery gets sign approved

Delidais Estate Winery and DA Gardens is located near Elnora

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Here is a list of latest COVID-19 restrictions in effect in Alberta

New mandatory health restrictions are now in effect in Alberta. Additional restrictions… Continue reading

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 11, 2021. Trudeau is rejecting accusations from Alberta’s justice minister that his federal government is part of a trio rooting for that province’s health system to collapse due to COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau rejects Alberta cabinet minister accusation PM wants COVID-19 health disaster

Trudeau rejects Alberta cabinet minister accusation PM wants COVID-19 health disaster

Mourners organize a memorial, Monday, May 10, 2021, outside a mobile home in Colorado Springs, Colo., where a shooting at a party took place a day earlier that killed six people before the gunman took his own life. (Jerilee Bennett/The Gazette via AP)
Police: Man killed 6, self after he wasn’t invited to party

Police: Man killed 6, self after he wasn’t invited to party

Colonial Pipeline joue un rôle de premier plan dans le transport de l'essence, du kérosène, du diésel et d'autres produits pétroliers du Texas vers la côte Est.(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Gas stations report shortages as pipeline shutdown drags on

Gas stations report shortages as pipeline shutdown drags on

A taxi drives past the charred remains of a car that was burned during clashes between Indigenous people from Cauca state who arrived to support the national strike, with local residents who do not support the blocking of roads in Cali, Colombia, Monday, May 10, 2021. Colombians have protested across the country against a government they feel has long ignored their needs, allowed corruption to run rampant and is so out of touch that it proposed tax increases during the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Andres Gonzalez)
42 killed in Colombia protests, human rights agency says

42 killed in Colombia protests, human rights agency says

Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Dominic LeBlanc speaks during a news conference on Parliament Hill, on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
All parties in the Commons give approval in principle to pandemic election bill

All parties in the Commons give approval in principle to pandemic election bill

Brigadier-General Jennie Carignan of the Canadian Armed Forces joins soldiers during a lunch with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Jens Stoltenberg at Canadian Forces Base Petawawa, Ont. on Monday, July 15, 2019. A parliamentary committee will hear this morning from Carigan,  who was recently tapped to lead the military's efforts to change its culture.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Military police chief defends independence; Vance allegedly said he ‘owned’ force

Military police chief defends independence; Vance allegedly said he ‘owned’ force

In this Thursday, May 14, 2020 photo, a doctor holds his stethoscope during a patient visit in Blackburn, England, amid the coronavirus pandemic. Doctors in British Columbia are being warned they could face investigation or penalties from their regulatory body if they contradict public health orders or guidance about COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Hannah McKay/Pool Photo via AP
B.C. doctors could face penalty for veering from COVID-19 health guidelines: college

B.C. doctors could face penalty for veering from COVID-19 health guidelines: college

A vial of the  AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is shown at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. Alberta says it won't give out more first doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for the time being.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
Hope for a good summer with one dose in arms, if we ‘crush’ COVID-19: Trudeau

Hope for a good summer with one dose in arms, if we ‘crush’ COVID-19: Trudeau

Most Read