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Earth Day 2010

Every day around Hancock Wildlife Foundation is Earth Day. Our whole reason for existing is to learn from, follow and carry on the work of our founder, David Hancock, and his ideas and ideals surrounding conservation and our planet's wildlife.

I first saw a lecture from David back when I was in high school here in Vancouver. It started with one of his films and continued with him on stage with his pet cougar. As a "boy from the city" I saw some of the beauty of our planet and was introduced to the concepts of conservation - even back then.

Ma and Pa HornbyI again met David and did some work for him and his publishing business over 20 years ago, and have grown to know him and his passion for conservation. We've had many talks about his work with re-introduction of birds to areas where they were exterminated; grouse, ptarmigan, falcons and more recently sandhill cranes. I've browsed through his library in the top floor of the book warehouse and dug into some of the history there, finding all manner of things such as old films and posters, mementos of his talks and work.

By 2006, when we unleashed the Hornby and Sidney nest cameras on the world via the internet, the planet had gotten more crowded and a lot of the species that inhabit it along with we humans had suffered hugely from pollution, human predation; hunting, overfishing, poor harvesting practices, ignorant and even criminal lack of oversight by governments, etc. What we as a species have done to the planet during out short history is all but overwhelming - but I see a change happening and it makes me realize that, while David has been working at conservation for over 50 years, the rest of us are finally getting somewhere - hopefully not too late.


Delta O.W.L. nest pair by Boundary Bay airport - Delta, BCThe bald eagle is making a comeback. It was hunted here in the Pacific North West almost to extinction - only 3 nesting pairs in the Vancouver region when David first started studying their adaptation to the urban environment. Today he tracks over 300 nesting pairs here in the region, and the species is no longer endangered but still protected.

Salmon in the Chehalis fish hatchery outfallMore recently we've been working with local government people on things like salmon restoration and monitoring programs in the local watershed. We've told you about the work done by the Lafarge employees, at their local level here in Vancouver, to protect and defend the eagle nest on their new plant's property on the waterfront here.

These people care - and they're making a difference in how the companies and governments they work for deal with potential problems and solutions. No longer is it "just get the job done" it is "what about the environment?"

David Hancock has played a part in this - but even he says that today the internet plays a far greater part than he has in all his years of lecturing and showing films. Today, you and the world can see, in real time, the effects of pollution, weather, nature and the environment on the species of the world.

Together, the live streaming wildlife cameras of the world are pointing out to the rest of the planet just exactly what we have done to Mother Earth - and what we are doing and trying to do to fix the problems. We have cast a light into a world that previously was only seen via the good-looking pieces of film the editors decided to show you - the cute bear cubs, the dancing cranes, the cuddly skunks or whatever of the old generation of made-up "wildlife" film and TV showed.

Today you get to see the real thing. Yes, sometimes it is ugly and always it is dangerous - but it is real.

It is real when a second chick in a nest starves to death or is pecked by its bigger and stronger sibling. It is real when a nest successfully raises 3 chicks to fledging too. It is real when a chick falls from a nest and dies, or an egg is stolen by a raven. We humans have caused problems - but we humans, when faced with the reality of what actually happens out in the wild, can and do make good decisions on how we and planet Earth can get along together better and to our mutual advantage. We can and will make the right decisions for the future.

The comeback of the eagle and its adaptation to living close to humans is a grand example of what can be accomplished by working with instead of against the environment. The work being done on stream restoration and re-introduction of salmon to urban and suburban streams is another example.

Here in the Vancouver area as well as other places, Apollo - Kermode/Spirit bear near Terrace, BCwe're working harder at preventing problems with bears close to humans, rather than simply shooting them. We're putting bear-proof garbage cans out and making laws that put the onus on humans to deal with the root causes of the problems - and we're hearing stories of bears that successfully live in the areas around people, getting off the paths while we jog and walk by, then go back about their business in harmony with the environment. It takes education and willingness to live that way - and people are learning just as well as the animals are.

Humanity is part of Planet Earth - and we are learning how to become part of the ecology instead of just molding it to our wants. Life is a balance - and we're learning how to do our part. We're balancing off some "bad" things we do in one place with "good" things we do in another - and learning just how far we can push the limits before Mother Nature starts pushing back hard enough to show she really is the boss.

We've hurt our planet and ecology, there's no doubt of that. We're going to continue to hurt it for quite a while yet, but we're slowing down the amount we're hurting and we're fixing some of the old hurts and we're learning - and you, our viewers and members and your friends and their friends are here, watching the effects and pushing your governments and businesses more and more to do the right things.

Thank you - thank you for watching our cameras and learning. Thank you for supporting us and continuing to spread the word about nature in the raw. Thanks to all who care and who are, through their own actions and pressures and letter writings and petition signings and all the little things you do to help make others aware - you're making a difference. We're making a difference - keep it up!

Richard C. Pitt
Executive Director
Hancock Wildlife Foundation

Tag: earth day salmon bear eagle conservation


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