To the Alberta government, for even considering opening up a hunting season for the magnificent sandhill cranes.
Why would somebody want to shoot such a beautiful creature?
For the sport? Hardly.
There’s no challenge in blasting away at this graceful gliding bird. Only a hunter with an empty shotgun and both barrels plugged with field dirt and cow manure could miss this easy target.
Would the gangly birds make a tasty addition to the meal table? Perhaps a bit stringy, unless one bags a young bird and has the right recipe — if one exists.
Or is the real reason that a sandhill crane, at the hands of a taxidermist, would make a fine-looking stuffed trophy in the den for somebody who has more money than common sense?
Sustainable Resource Development Minister Ted Morton is quick to point out that a crane hunt has only been suggested. “That’s all it is — it’s a request.”
Who’s doing the asking? Quentin Bochar, president of the Alberta Fish and Game Association, for one, is pushing for the hunt. Bochar said hunters are always keen for new opportunities and the sandhills request has been a longstanding issue for some association members.
The AFGA is a powerful lobby and watchdog group to which Albertans owe a lot of thanks for many ground-breaking conservation and environmental initiatives that have kept the province on its toes.
But other conservation groups are concerned that hunters might confuse sandhills with the endangered whooping cranes. It’s not uncommon for a hunter, in the heat of the shoot, to confuse a mule deer for a white-tailed deer or a swan for a snow goose.
The idea of a crane hunt just doesn’t make sense.
To Lorraine and Karl Martinek, who have been the operators of the Canyon Ski and Recreation Area on behalf of fellow shareholders for decades.
Lorraine, a native of Red Deer, and her husband poured heart and soul into developing the area, eventually turning it into Alberta’s largest non-mountain ski area.
Those slopes are fondly remembered by many Central Albertans because, as youngsters, they honed their skills there before heading to the mountains.
Canyon is now for sale. It’s feared that the area might fall into the hands of housing developers, depriving public access to this gem in the Red Deer River valley.
But the City of Red Deer and Red Deer County have since joined forces in a bid to purchase this magnificent piece of property.
The two municipalities want it preserved for the public, which is the wish of the Martineks, said their lawyer, Christopher Warren.
Many thanks for the memories and work the Martineks put into Canyon, which for so many Central Albertans holds a treasured place in their hearts.
Rick Zemanek is an Advocate editor.