Old growth forests provide homes for animals such as this endangered western screech owl. (Sarah Chesterman/Special to Black Press)

LETTER – Professor gains support in her efforts to protect endangered birds

Dear editor,

Re: Birder fights for more access in Fairy Creek (July 20 Record)

I am proud of Professor Royann Petrell for her challenge to the forestry company Teal Jones, asking for more access to the old growth forests, particularly in TFL 46 near Fairy Creek, in order to study and protect the endangered bird species in the area.

As it stands, she is only allowed into the property with a maximum of two other people at a time, and then only on a case by case basis. This restriction seems to be another example of industry, with the agreement of government, doing whatever it can to prioritize clear-cut logging over environmental concerns.

It is known that a large majority of B.C. citizens are in favour of protecting these old growth forests, inspired by one or many factors. Among other reasons, these ancient forests are among the very few habitats in the world for the endangered western screech owl and the marbelled murrelet. Our BC Forest Practices board can recommend that the habitat be protected. But the board has no power to direct companies, individuals or government agencies to take specific actions so why would Dr. Petrell consider complaining to them? Besides that, the “nest law” says that birder-scientists need to see the actual nest with the actual birds and/or eggs in them to “prove” that a given area is a nesting habitat. Though perhaps well-meaning,the nest law is impractical as nests are well hidden and nearly impossible to find. This is why large forest areas are cut down during prime nesting periods, and once-abundant birds like the threatened marbelled murrelet and western screech owl are rapidly disappearing.

The presence of male-female pairs during the nesting season should be enough evidence to protect the area. But in B.C., with a government that is captive of the logging industry despite what it pretends, the logging will continue, even in endangered-species areas.

To show my respect for the environment and for Professor Petrell, I will be calling my MLA and the premier’s office to express my concern for this untenable state of affairs. Please join me.

Wendy McNiven

Courtenay

Endangered SpeciesforestryLetter to the Editor

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