Friday, June 5, 2015

Wishin' & Hopin'

Mother Goose & her goslings - photo by Junie Quiroga
Every spring Mother Nature brings us fresh evidence of her endless effort to ensure survival, regardless of species, in both the plant and animal kingdoms. Baby seals appear in the ocean, flowers start to bloom, and recently hatched little ducklings wander about under the careful watch of their mothers.  Nothing is more adorable than a baby and nothing is more upsetting than a mother whose baby is being threatened.

Mother Duck and her ducklets - photo by Junie Quiroga
While some mothers in the Lagoon are happily enjoying their new offspring there's a mother swan left all alone to wonder yet again what has gone wrong in her world in spite of having done all the right things. Every year Mrs. Swan carefully builds a nest with her mate and lays a few eggs but every year they either don't hatch or else simply disappear. Everyone else in the neighbourhood has a spring baby why can't she?

Mute Swan alone on her empty nest - photo by Junie Quiroga
The culprit isn't any of the other creatures in the Park or surrounding waterways but the Parks Board staff themselves. They have taken it upon themselves to single out the swans for systematic extinction and they do this each year by either addling/shaking any eggs that are laid or simply removing them, causing incredible stress to the birds in the process. From the dozens of pairs of swans that used to exist in Lost Lagoon there are only 2 pairs now remaining.

Mute Swan - photo by Junie Quiroga
These beautiful birds (properly known as Mute swans) are the most photographed creatures in Lost Lagoon, but have been deemed an invasive pest by Environment Canada. Introduced to North America in the 19th century Mute swans have rapidly expanded their population to the point of displacing the native Trumpeter swans, which the Parks Board would rather see in the Lagoon. Both are roughly the same size with the main difference being the colour of their beaks; the Trumpeter's is black while the Mute's is orange.

Trumpeter Swan
Regardless of how the Mute swan got established, they are here to stay, just like the Red Eared Slider turtles, another so-called invasive species that have taken over in the Lagoon. I don't see the Parks Board doing anything to wipe out these professional sunbathers and, even more ironic, is the Parks Board's active participation in a breeding program for Beluga whales which are definitely not a native species to Vancouver.
Red Eared Slider Turtles sun-tanning in Lost Lagoon - photo by Junie Quiroga
Managing Mute swans is one thing and now that we are down to only 4 I think we could allow a few cygnets to see the light of day. People need to register a protest with the Parks Board. In the meantime it's another year of wishing and hoping on the part of the mother swan and another year of wishing and hoping the Parks Board comes to its senses.

Mute swan with baby cygnets


  1. Sadly, I did not know anything about this happening in our beautiful city. I thinks its positively disgraceful and the people should be made to account for this. It's shocking and cruel. I personally went down there to see the Swan sitting on her nest. She is distraught - of that there is no doubt. When people come too near she starts panting and is agitated. This is absolutely unacceptable. Please make your comments known. The article is brilliantly written and very informative - Well done for making this horrible thing public.

  2. Letter sent to Parks Board Commissioners:

    > I have today emailed the letter below to the Vancouver Sun.
    > We implore you to rethink your plans to terrorise these beautiful birds in such a cruel manner. To steal a mother's eggs, of any species, is certain to cause her untold sadness and confusion. It is cruel and it needs to stop.
    > Yours truly,
    > Diana Maloney
    >> As ex-Vancouverites, we are disgusted by the inexcusable actions of the Vancouver Parks Board stealing the eggs of beautiful but unwanted Mute swans, leaving them sadly confused as their eggs never produce babies.
    >> It is a well-known fact that cruelty to defenseless creatures who have no voice, is often a prelude to cruelty to humans. Jeffrey Dahmer is a case in point.
    >> If Vancouverites have any compassion for the sentient beings who share their space, they need to take immediate action to stop what is going on. The swans have the right to live there too.
    >> "We must fight against the spirit of unconscious cruelty with which we treat the animals. Animals suffer as much as we do. True humanity does not allow us to impose such sufferings on them. It is our duty to make the whole world recognise it. Until we extend our circle of compassion to all living things, humanity will not find peace." Dr Albert Schweitzer, Nobel Peace Prize Winner.

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