FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Parks Canada employees at Point Pelee National Park intend to engage in a cull of birds on an island in Lake Erie, in defiance of the Covid-19 Emergency.
April 21, 2021, Toronto: Is killing Double-crested Cormorants on a small, uninhabited island an “essential service”? To any reasonable person, the answer is obviously ‘no’.
Yet Parks Canada staffers will engage in an unnecessary cull that involves traveling together on a boat during a province-wide emergency stay-at-home order that requires everyone to remain at home except for essential purposes.
Double-crested Cormorants are native, migratory waterbirds who nest in colonies. One such colony location is Middle Island, a small, uninhabited island in Lake Erie that is under the control of the Point Pelee National Park. For the past decade park staff from Point Pelee have hired a boat to travel to this small island to kill cormorants. Approximately 20,000 cormorants have been killed over the past decade. Last spring, due to the pandemic, the annual cull was wisely called off.
In a surprising move, Point Pelee National Park Superintendent, Maria Papoulias, has decided to go ahead with a four-day cull to take place sometime before May 15 and in spite of Ontario’s Covid-19 emergency.
Animal Alliance of Canada, a national animal protection organization, has monitored this cull since its inception but may have difficulty doing so this year because it plans to comply with the public health order to address the health crisis facing Ontarians. Parks Canada should also comply with the stay-at-home order instead of ignoring the Covid crisis and pleas from physicians and other health care workers to stay home and not put others at risk.
Liz White, Animal Alliance of Canada Director states: “Killing cormorants on Middle Island is not an essential service. We believe that the decision to engage in a cull during the pandemic emergency is irresponsible and unconscionable. The Premier of Ontario has begged Ontarians to avoid all unnecessary travel and to even limit outdoor activities. Yet, Parks Canada management has chosen to defy the Premier’s plea. In future years we can continue with our debate over the reasons they give for killing these birds. That debate is for another time. The issue now is the disrespect shown to the citizens of Southwestern Ontario who are expected to sacrifice business interests and family activities to help break the cycle of Covid infections. Yet, a federally-funded organization has chosen to engage in an entirely unnecessary activity that will bring several people together during travel, possibly exposing them to infection.”
Ms. White goes on to say: “We are contacting Dr. Wajid Ahmed, Medical Officer of Health for the region to urge him to intervene. And, we urge Parks Superintendent, Maria Papoulias to reconsider her plan, and out of respect for the health and safety of her own staff and area citizens, to call of this year’s cull.”