Cranes and Oil Spills

Sandhill cranes

Sandhill cranes spriraling upwards on a thermal this spring.

In my June column for the Alberta Outdoorsmen, I relate how watching flocks of hundreds of sandhill cranes slowly spiral on rising thermals this spring caused me to wonder where these birds came from (marshes along the Gulf of Mexico perhaps) and what they were seeing from those tremendous heights (they cruise at several thousand feet in elevation, way above the altitudes of most other migrating waterfowl). I also wondered what they would find after raising their young in our north and returning to their wintering grounds this fall. Of course, I’m talking about the British Petroleum (BP) oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that has now spread far and wide from the coasts of Louisiana to Florida–fouling beaches, and killing all kinds of marine and terrestrial wildlife. It’s an environmental disaster of huge proportions, not only in terms of the loss of wildlife and habitat, but also in the loss of jobs, livelihoods and a major source of food.

Of course, we are not immune to environmental disasters here in Alberta as evidenced by the recent court case concerning Syncrude and the death of 1600 ducks in its oil-sands tailings ponds in the spring of 2008. The timing of this case could not have been worse for Syncrude and other oil sands petroleum producers. As the lawyer for Syncrude argued the killing of the ducks was the ducks’ fault, pictures on  television revealed the building disaster on the Gulf. Somehow blaming the victims to avoid responsibility was looking worse, if that was possible.

So, what’s wrong with that?

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About Don Meredith

I am a writer and biologist living in Alberta, Canada. I wrote a monthly column for the Alberta Outdoorsmen magazine, and have published articles for several other magazines.
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