It is with sadness and a sense of deep loss that I write about the untimely death of Maj Birch, the founder and spiritual source of Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society (MARS). The birds and animals of the Comox Valley region have lost a real crusader for the health and well-being of wildlife in all its many forms – especially birds and animals.
It is revealing to look at the work of this amazing woman and to come to the conclusion she had a profound sense of the true understanding of wildlife. She and MARS healed birds and animals back to a functioning lifestyle regardless of whether or not they were predators. This non-judging philosophy revealed a profound understanding of the mysteries of life. Some birds and animals eat their fellow members in the scheme of earning a living, others eat plants, others eat insects and so forth. When you sum it up it comes down to life systems that find balances with the needs of each species.
Maj Birch’s knowledge about the mysteries of life and her miraculous work with MARS put her in the unique roll of saviour and healer to all forms of wildlife that came to the MARS centre of healing, regardless of lifestyle. Her untimely passing came at a time when MARS is expanding their services at a new property off Williams Road. The property was a gift from a supporter of her work and now it is the time for MARS and its many friends and dedicated members to bring to fruition Maj Birch’s visions for the future.
As witnessed by the hundreds of people who came to her celebration of life there is a solid organization to carry on the work. This column respectfully suggests you might consider a special Christmas gift in memory of Maj Birch to MARS in the form of a donation to carry on the work at the new location. The MARS website is www.wingtips.org.
Technically this column is about the outdoors, fishing, hunting and things in the environment that have an impact on our activities. We are controlled by the weather, droughts, changing climate patterns that are warming the places we carry out our fishing and hunting trips.
To me, much of climate change is about how our wildlife systems will change in response to changing environments that evolve more rapidly than resident species of fish and wildlife can adapt to.
As I write this column leaders of more than 150 countries are meeting in Paris to address many of the challenges faced by human societies. In the announcements so far there has been little reference to the other dominant life forms on the planet that will be affected by climate change.
How will salmon and trout react to the warmed waters in their birth rivers and lakes? How will migratory waterfowl react to drought in their traditional northern breeding grounds that supply wetlands during the breeding season? How will large ungulates such as moose, elk and deer react to the loss of succulent new growth of willow and other browse plants in response to changing weather patterns? How will shellfish react to increased acidity in marine waters due to increased carbon dioxide dissolved in the waters? How will the growing problem of increased forest fires affect the huge numbers of birds and animals that rely on the forest to survive?
So far we have heard much about how polar bears are losing their icy environment, maybe it is time to hear about closer to home species.
I respectfully suggest these and a multitude of other climate-related matters will have a direct impact on how we carry out our outdoor fishing and hunting in the near future. It is time we heard more specifically about some of the changes coming to British Columbia.
Ralph Shaw is a master fly fisherman who was awarded the Order of Canada in 1984 for his conservation efforts. In 20 years of writing a column in the Comox Valley Record it has won several awards.