WEST BAY – Just call them Team Canada. Students from Manitoulin Secondary School (MSS) are going to represent Canada at an International Science Olympiad to be held in Chicago on May 13 and 14.
�What an amazing opportunity for the students at this school,� said Science Olympiad Coach Rob Cassibo. �The Museum of Industry and Science in Chicago is probably one of the top three museums in the world. There is the Smithsonian, and then there is this one. This place is absolutely amazing, and kids just can not get to someplace like this.�
MSS was selected based on the strength of last year�s team, who earned metals in three of the fifteen events at the provincial level, and did rather well for their first year competing, he said. Cassibo indicated he was also the only coach from Canada to attend the coach�s clinic in the United States last summer. He sat on the rules committee, and became very involved in the Science Olympics.
Then, due to the teachers� strikes in Southern Ontario earlier this year, the provincial event was cancelled. Cassibo said this left four teams who wanted to represent Canada at the event. The criteria then became that the four teams had to have been competitive at the provincial level last year.
�The Science Olympiad is only big in this province, which means only an Ontario representative is invited to the international level in the United States. Because Ontario is the only province who goes, the Americans bill us as Team Canada,� he said. �The big dilemma is going to be the expenses,� he said. �We have a humongous amount of fundraising to do in the next little while.�
The team needs to raise the funds to cover the cost of a bus and accommodations in downtown Chicago, which do not come cheap he indicated. He noted the team is hopeful it may be able to raise some funds through corporate sponsorship. Cassibo also plans to hold a meeting within the next week with parents of the students to better inform about what the Science Olympics is, he said.
It�s Time for Action, Not Studies!!!
It is time for action to be taken to control measures to be taken on cormorants before they decimate fish stocks in all waters around Manitoulin Island and the North Channel, before fish populations are further decimated. Two more studies have once again concluded cormorants have a serious affect on fish populations.
Up until now, it has been stressed by those who stock fish around Manitoulin, and those who partake in the sport of fishing that there has been a substantial decrease in the amount of bait fish being found in the last several years. Several areas have been cited as normally having an abundance of bait fish in the past, and relatively little if any now. One of the reasons for this these experts say, is the high consumption of bait fish taken by cormorants.
The New York report now provides startling news that cormorants not only go after baitfish, they are targeting three to five year old bass fish. And, it should be noted bass spawn at four years of age, so the affects of the cormorants taking these fish as well can be devastating.
In an Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources Fish and Wildlife Branch, �Review of the Population Status and Management of Double-Crested Cormorants in Ontario,� it is noted Lake Huron has the greatest concentration of cormorants on the Great Lakes, and the North Channel was cited as one of the waters where the birds are nesting in predominant numbers.
These and further studies have also shown the cormorants also consume other fish, such as perch, in great numbers. The New York reports if adult smallmouth bass numbers continue to decline at current rates, stock-recruitment relationships will be affected and may increase the risk of population collapse. This is a story which has been told in several other reports on waters in Ontario, Canada and the U.S.
It is time for those who have a strong interest in fishing on Manitoulin Island to vehemently stand together and encourage the powers to be to take control measures. And it is time for the powers to put some type of action to control cormorants. Otherwise, there won�t be further studies done about the affects of cormorants on fish populations…. studies will be done on why the fish populations collapsed, and how to somehow bring this back!
MANITOULIN – �The information presented in this study furnishes strong support for the existence of a cause-affect relationship between increased abundance of double-crested cormorants and declines in the smallmouth bass population and the quality of the fishery in the eastern basin of Lake Ontario. The main results from this study were that mortality of age three to five smallmouth bass increased substantially after 1988 and double-crested cormorant predation on these age classes was substantial enough to cause the observed declines in the smallmouth bass population.�
This was a message noted in a draft report prepared by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Bureau of Fish and United States Geological Survey-Biological Resources Division, �To Assess the Impact of Double-Crested Cormorant Predation on Smallmouth Bass and other Warm Water Fishes of the Eastern Basin of Lake Ontario.� The report was released December 15, 1998.
�They�ve kept a eye on the cormorants since the early 1970�s and one of the important things that this indicates to me, is that the cormorants are targeting 3 to five year old bass. They are targeting the larger fish…..everything we have been told before is they were only aiming at the baitfish,� said Rick Fogal, of the Gore Bay Fish and Game Club.
�When you combine this report for New York and one for Ontario (released December, 1997), and others, you can see exactly what is happening out here in our waters,� said Fogal. �One of the concerns the birds are leaving the North Channel and heading to inland waters. Logic tells me the birds have cleaned out the large waters and and now looking for bass and perch on inland lakes.�
Fogal said the impacts may not be felt on younger fish, however by the time the fish get to three and five years old they shouldn�t be taken by any predators. And, he pointed out bass spawn when they are four years old, �so the cormorants are targeting the bass which are spawning,� he said. �The affects we are going to see could be pretty dramatic if they continue to be present in any kind of numbers,� he added.
The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources Fish and Wildlife Branch,, �Review of the Population Status and Management of Double-Crested Cormorants in Ontario,� pointed out Lake Huron has the greatest concentration of cormorants on the Great Lakes. There are currently more than 20,000 breeding pairs on the Lake. �Other than a small outbreak of Newcastle disease in the early 1990�s, cormorant numbers have been increasing 20-50 percent each year.�
It is further pointed out in the MNR study cormorants occur along the shoreline, but most cormorants are nesting in eastern Georgian Bay, the North Channel, and St. Mary�s River, and some birds are moving to inland waters adjacent to Lake Huron to feed. However, it is further pointed out there is no solid evidence of birds breeding inland.
�Cormorant numbers on North Channel Island were increasing, but appeared to be stable in 1996, although the population suffered from Newcastle�s disease in 1995. Populations have increased in southern Georgian Bay, and nests are now found along the shorelines of Nottawasaga Island as well as Watcher Island and Pine Island.�
In depth population data collected over 23 years of smallmouth bass, led to two very important observations. �First, the 1987 and 1988 year classes were the second and third strongest at age three and four but recruited to the population at rates four to five times lower than previous strong year-classes. Second, the peak numbers in catch curves drawn from index gillnet catches had shifted from ages five, six or seven to ages two and three. Both of these observations can be indicative of a population with a mortality bottleneck prior to recruitment,�the study reveals.
As for the implications found in the study, �production of strong year classes of smallmouth bass in the eastern basin of Lake Ontario has occurred at intervals from four to 10 years and is thought to be related to environmental conditions during spawning. Because of the relatively long periods between these year-classes, the population in the basin is dependent upon high survivorship of young smallmouth bass age two to five years. The data presented in this report indicate that increased mortality of smallmouth bass age three to five has directly lead to the declines in the population and in the quality of the fishery.�
The report continues, �continued declines in numbers of adult smallmouth bass will affect stock-recruitment relationships and may increase the risk of population collapse. The ability of double-crested cormorant predation to effectively remove entire year-classes of smallmouth bass population to respond and possibly compensate to this relatively new form of predation.
MINDEMOYA – There will soon be a new road surface for the Swing Bridge at Little Current. Ray Pardiac, president of the Manitoulin Chamber of Commerce told the Recorder last week, �we get a lot of people calling us and asking us to look into things they would like to see done.�
Consequently, Pardiac said he contacted Mike Pearsall of the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) last Thursday about some of the projects it has proposed.
�One of the things I thought is a great idea was to do with the Swing Bridge,� said Pardiac. He said Pearsall indicated repairs will be done to the bridge including resurfacing and improving the road surface. �They won�t be resurfacing it with tar, but with a surfacing that will stay there, and the way he was talking they will be doing this soon.�
The MTO is also going to do do some repaving on Highway six between Little Current and Espanola, said Pardiac. �I was told from Espanola 13 kilometres south they will be resurfacing and paving the road, redoing culverts and shoulders of the road, as well as entrances and turn off lanes,� he said. �The second project where the road was realigned, 28 kilometres north of Little Current will all be paved,� he added. Pearsall could not be reached for comment prior to this week�s press deadline.
GORE BAY – A Little Current resident received a fine and had his hunting license suspended, in Gore Bay court last week. Michael Sellen, age 41, of 9 Hard bargain Road, Little Current was sentenced on charges of �unlawfully, having taken an animal suitable for food, allow the flesh of that animal to spoil; namely- two whitetail deer, contrary to Section 31 of the (Ontario) Game and Fish Act.�
Court heard that on September 29, 1998, as a result of three complaints, Ministry of Natural Resources Conservation Officers attended a bush area in the town of Little Current, in Howland township in the Northeast region. Residents in the houses surrounding this bush area complained of a terrible smell.
The officers located the spoiled, rotting remains of an adult doe whitetail deer and a fawn whitetail deer, both infested and crawling with maggots, and with the remaining meat slimy and rotten. Both animals had been field dressed and the hindquarters of the doe were missing. From marks around their necks it was determined they had been hanging.
The Conservation officers were able to follow drag marks that led to a shack at the rear of a house, and were able to determine that the lot the shack was on and the house were owned by Sellen. Surveillance was then set up while a search warrant was being obtained, and in the course of this surveillance, an adult male person, known to the officers as Mike Sellen, was observed to be cleaning out of the shed blood, hair and maggots. He was approached by the officers and gave a complete caution statement.
Sellen advised the conservation officers, he had shot both animals on September 20, 1998, in an area where he could hunt under his treaty rights, (he has first nations status with the Sucker Creek Reserve on Manitoulin Island). He also noted he had dressed both animals, took them back to his residence and hung them in his shed. On the evening of September 23 he took the hindquarters off the doe and cut, wrapped and froze them.
Sellen said he left the whole fawn and the rest of the doe hanging, and planned on butchering them at a later time. However, on Saturday, September 26 he noted maggots on both animals and a bad smell and he realized that they had rotted. Sellen then drug them out behind his shed in the bush and left them. He advised the officers he didn�t realize they would spoil as quickly as they did.
Sellen showed the officers his freezer where the hindquarters of the doe were and advised them he simply had not thought of getting someone else to help him, or of putting the whole animals in his freezer until he had more time to butcher them.
The Conservation Officers, in the course of their investigation, told court they had noted the shed the deer were hanging in was completely closed with no ventilation. It was pointed out the temperature during the course of the week that the deer were hanging was in the range of 14-20 degrees Celsius, which is high for that time of year, and noted the carcasses hanging in the shed would have begun rotting within a couple of days.
The officers also advised Sellen had enough room in his freezer to have taken the hides of the deer and froze them whole, or froze them with hides on. It was also pointed out Sellen was extremely co-operative and remorseful.
The Crown suggested to court, on a scale of hunting infractions, this type of offence ranks up with the worst. The deer season for firearms does not open until the third week of November, 1998 in the area. These animals had been taken under a treaty right that allows members to hunt year round. However, the crown also noted it�s one thing to take animals under a special right, but it becomes morally reprehensible when the same animals are allowed to rot. It was questioned what the point was of killing the deer in the first place.
The Crown advised that every hunter who takes the life of an animal, regardless of its size, has an onus to utilize the animal completely. She stated there was absolutely no excuse for Sellen�s actions, and pointed out the bottom line in this is that two whitetail deer were allowed to rot and then simply drug away and left. Sellen had two or three full days to do something with the deer.
The court ruled Sellen be fined $1,000, with an additional $500 to be donated to the Little Current Game and Fish club to assist in building a fish ladder. As well, Sellen had his hunting license suspended for one year, and has a two year probation order, meaning he cannot commit any offences relating to hunting or he will have to appear in court again on the charges.
WEST BAY – Where once there were many, now there are few. Molly Ainslie, a member of the Manitoulin Coalition for Detoxification, indicated to the coalition that support and the pool potential candidates for volunteers is beginning to pull back, because people are not sure if they agree with the Coalition�s philosophy. She said the rumor mill has been suggesting the group supports total abstinence.
Martin Ainslie agreed. He indicated, while he has been a member of the Coalition for two years, Island residents who have never attended a single meeting are telling him things about the organization that he has never heard. He indicated a public information session is much needed.
The two were addressing the Coalition at its meeting on February 24, held at Manitoulin Secondary School (MSS). The Coalition is a stepping stone, suggested Joyce Foster. While the services offered might not work for everyone, she said, in the past there has been nothing to offer at all. It only takes a few negative people to get the ball rolling, Molly Ainslie said.
Coalition Chair Weston Leeson said the organization is not just advocating one philosophy, and the services are not just offered for somebody who abstains. �We are advocating what is needed,� he said. �I think we could be a big part of the community of Manitoulin.� Gerry Cooper from the Center for Addictions and Mental Health cautioned the Coalition it might not be wise to have an information session with the public in the immediate future, as there are still some unanswered questions about the service.
He indicated the center presently has a team visiting detox services across the province to assist such agencies in identifying what works for them, and how to know if these organizations are meeting the goals they set. He said he is working on having the team come to work with the detox staff and Coalition members on a brainstorming session, but nothing is guaranteed yet. It could hurt the group in the long run to hold an information session if it could not answer all of the people�s questions.
�Our service is dedicated to the needs of the client,� he said, adding �We are not married to any kind of philosophy.� �What I am hearing tonight is that this is a program for the individual,� said Molly Ainslie. She said it is really up to the client where they wish to proceed. It is not the worst thing in the world to have a substance problem, she suggested, but it is bad to deny there is a problem.