• A Little Rant From Grant

    My rant this week concerns the present OPSEU strike, which has left our wild birds, fish and animals unprotected because conservation officers are not available to do their job.

    Sure, lots of people are inconvenienced by the strike and weíve heard over and over that the only exceptions will be over life or death issues but since deer, turkeys and fish canít type, phone or write to editors, someone has to speak for them.

    No, Iím not aiming this at our present political leaders necessarily; a previous government changed the law and now the protectors of our resources and their management donít have compulsory arbitration. Iím not blaming the COís who are caught between a rock and a hard place. Most of them are dedicated individuals who do far more than necessary during their normal working day.

    My grudge is against the two parties that put negotiations and political position ahead of good sense; the OPSEU leaders and the provincial management team that have become locked in battle. At one time contract disputes were handled in such a way that the COís continued to do their jobs and poachers had to lay low.

    Right at this moment, poachers with no respect for the laws that protect spawning fish and pregnant does are filling their freezers. Theyíre a small percent of the provinces population but enough of these outlaws exist so that unchecked, they can make a significant dent in some sensitive populations of wildlife.

    Just imagine if our police officers were on strike. Bank robbers would be dancing in the streets. Liquor stores would be robbed in broad daylight and convenience stores would have to close. We wouldnít stand for it, right?

    How come Conservation Officers, the people that form a thin green line between poachers and our natural resources, are obliged by their unions to strike? Whoís to blame here, the government for not changing the law or the unions who have become so much more powerful with their right to strike? I wonder how the COís feel about this situation? Even before the strike they were already spread far too thin and tremendously challenged to cover their assigned areas. With all the modern technology available the poaching situation was barely kept in check, now they have to sit around on a picket line while deer are shot and fish are pulled from sanctuaries. Something should be done in future so this never happens again. Those with the authority to do so should get off their hands and get the job done.

    Meanwhile, there is still something you can do if you see poachers at work.

    I spoke with both Crimestoppers and the OPP media officer for Grey-Bruce; Constable Steve Star Tuesday morning.

    Ontario Provincial Police Officers can and will respond to reports of fish and wildlife violations, depending on manpower availability and priorities. Make a note of the time, vehicle description and licence number and call 1-888-310-1122 at any time, 24 hours a day. A communications officer will ask for your name but it isnít necessary to give it to get a response. If you have the nearest rural address number in Grey County than it will be easy for an officer to get to the correct location but lacking that, try and give clear directions. If you wish you could also call 1-800-TIPS and leave a message but the crimestopper phone is not manned outside business hours.

    Donít hesitate, conservation is everyoneís business. Step up to the plate and stop these criminals with a simple phone call. OPP officers want to help protect our heritage too, let them know whatís going on.

    Grant Ferris
    Grey/Bruce Outdoors
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