Tuesday June 2 2015 9 ENVIRONMENT WILDLIFE Congratulations PWK Grads of 2015 1 Breynat Street Fort Smith NT 867-872-4567 Wishing you well on the journey of a lifetime from all of us at Whispering Pines Cottages Home Away From Home Safe Travels www.whisperingpinescottages.ca 85 Pine Crescent PO Box 300 Fort Smith NT X0E 0P0 PhoneFax 867 872-2906 Cell 867 621-0254 Wishes the 2015 PWK Graduates Congratulations on This Great Achievement. May your success continue into the future Safe Travels continue into the future Whooping crane ight tours cancelled for May-June By DALI CARMICHAEL Just over a week after the Salt River First Nation SRFN announced it would be ling a court injunction over Wood Buffalo National Parks WBNP new whooping crane tours Parks Canada has cancelled the programs earliest tour dates. TheWhoopingCraneIconicExperienceset tobeginlastweekhasbeensuspendedfornow though not because of the injunction accord- ing to a release sent out by Parks. ParksCanadaiscommittedtoofferingvisi- torexperiencesthatconnectCanadianstotheir treasuredplacesinwaysthatleaveournatural heritage unimpaired for future generations reads a statement from WBNP. We are not doingourMay-Junedeliveryasnocraneshave nested in the areas near our blinds. SRFN announced it would be ling the in- junctiontwoweeksagostatingthatParkshad notfullleditslegally-requireddutytoconsult with Aboriginal rights holders in the park. But ofcials from WBNP say those rights would not be infringed upon by the planned whooping crane tours. We value our relationship with local Ab- original groups and are committed to working with them but a legal duty to consult is only triggered when an activity might impact an established Aboriginal or treaty right such as hunting trapping or shing none of which are impacted by this visitor experience Parks Canada said. However we recognize a desire for more information on the whoop- ing crane experience and are committed to engaging them in discussions. FortSmithMtisCouncilpresidentKenHud- son said hes unsatised with this response. The fact that the park is engaging with us for co-management tells me that they should be consulting on any issue that has to do with the park. They not only have to consult with the local people but they should be consulting with the 11 groups around the park Hudson saidreferringtothevariousFirstNationsthat hold treaty rights within WBNP. Concern for the birds Since SRFN announced it would be ling the injunction some - including Hudson - have expressed concern over the possible impacts of the tours on the well-being of the birds. The proposed program includes sev- eral options to view the natural nesting area of the whooping cranes including xed-wing ights at 1000 ft helicopter ights at 1200 ft and hikes into a blind several hundred metres away. Some worry the ights could scare the birds away causing them to abandon their nests and endangering the hatchlings. In its release Parks defended the tours stating research shows the birds are not troubled by such human activity. AsaworldleaderinconservationParksCan- adaconductedconsiderablescienticresearch and collected extensive data on the whooping cranesbeforemakingadeterminationthatthe proposedtourswouldhavenoadverseimpacts on the birds or the eggs Parks said. A view from the south During the colder months the whooping cranes of WBNP head south to the Aransas Wildlife Refuge located on the Gulf Coast of Texas. Its there that retired biologist Chester McConnell follows their every move as the president of conservation group Friends of the Wild Whoopers. McConnell said he became aware of the WBNP whooping crane tour experience as early as a year ago when it was mentioned to him casually by a Parks employee. Itwasjustnonchalantitwasntaconrmed proposal or anything he said. I said well if itsdonerightanythingtogetpeopleinterested in whooping cranes so long as it doesnt have any adverse effects on them we support it. McConnell was told the program was of- cially a go after Parks Canada sent out a press release on the program on Jan. 29 of this year. When the Salt River First Nation came out with their opposition I could see their point of view McConnell said. They got a right to the land and they should be contacted on any- thing they have a right to be contacted about. While he understands the concerns about the touring program he noted that previous scientic studies have not had lasting impacts on the cranes. Theyve own out there and gotten eggs before and used them in research projects he said. Theyve banded the whooping cranes by landing out there and just walking in. So far as I know none of that has ever had any long-lasting effect. He also noted that xed-wing aircraft y- ing at an altitude of about 200 ft are regu- larly used to do aerial counts of the birds in Aransas. PhotocourtesyofParksCanada Tourists hoping to catch this kind of aerial view of whooping cranes will have to wait until at least August following the cancellation of the new programs earliest excursions. That is unless the program is quashed by a legal injunction to be led by Salt River First Nation.