Tuesday, July 12, 2011
I was at the dentist yesterday, a perfect way to spend part of the first day back from vacation. While I was waiting I read an article in a current magazine (isn't there a rule that magazines in the offices of dentists and doctors must be old?) on the efforts to protect the Ontario habitat of the Piping Plover in some of the busiest recreational areas in the province.
Ever heard of a Piping Plover? It is a small, rather innocuous shore bird --what the Newfoundlanders quaintly called a "beachy bird," which is vulnerable because it nests out in the open on the upper regions of beaches. Humans have made life miserable for the Piping Plover because we like their habitat for recreation and our pets, namely dogs, often destroy their nests. So, the effort is on in many jurisdictions to protect nesting grounds even if it means closing beaches. Yet plovers are really "good for nothing." They aren't majestic, you can't eat 'em.
I was interested in the article because while we were in Nova Scotia we visited two sweeping, relatively remote beaches where there were no other people around. We were warned away from portions of these beaches by signs advising us that they protected plover habitat. We observed these bans even though there was no one around to police us and in one situation we yearned to walk the beach which had been a favorite place during our time living in Nova Scotia.
In recent years we have heard more about streams, forests, even areas of oceans which are closed to humans to protect endangered species. People often get angry because these areas may be their sources of livelihood or recreation. How can a barely visible minnow shut down fishing in a river, or a small owl close off logging? In a way these areas become figurative arks, allowing critters to survive in what is usually an unfair tussle between us and them.
So, should governments appoint themselves as modern day Noahs declaring some areas off limits, or is there too much interference? At what point do human needs supercede those of other creatures? If you saw the "off limits" signs, would you respect them?