Only after the last tree has been cut down.  Only after the last river has been poisoned.  Only after the last fish has been caught.  Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.

"When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically. In this context the proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof." - Wingspread Statement of the Precautionary Principle.
Migratory Birds:

January 15, 2003

Judith Kennedy
Bird Conservation Biologist
Migratory Birds Conservation
Canadian Wildlife Service
Environment Canada
351 St Joseph Blvd.
Hull, Quebec     K1A 0H3

Dear Ms Kennedy

While hunting waterfowl last autumn in an area near Outlook , SK, I encountered hunters who said that they had shot some ducks which smelled so badly of pig manure that they had to be discarded . I suspect that these birds were landing and/or feeding on the open sewage pits or pig manured fields utilized by the industrial pig farms nearby.

For future reference,  I have contacted the Saskatchewan Wildlife Authorities to determine if they have a correct (legal ) procedure to dispose of such birds. However , the real problem may be more extensive.  I have seen flocks of ducks,  geese and sandhill cranes land and perhaps feed in fields in this area which have just been " pig shitted " - the somewhat crude, but colourful local term for spreading sewage pit contents from these industrial pig farms onto fields as fertilizer . This practice most frequently occurs late September to late October when ducks and geese are undertaking their main fall migration. The water like appearance of the open sewage pits is also attractive to waterfowl, particularly in these drought plagued times on the Prairies.  I would think that, with the proliferation of the number and size of these industrial  pig farms in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and elsewhere, more and more migratory waterfowl are being exposed to these conditions.

Given the possible residues in the excrement from these "industrial " pigs (antibiotics, hormones, etc. and perhaps disease), there could be some danger to waterfowl which are exposed to this waste. Open sewage pits would also be an excellent breeding ground for flies and mosquitoes which can transmit viruses to and among birds. The possible inadvertent human consumption of meat from birds, where exposure to pig waste is not readily apparent, might have undesirable consequences.  Without wishing to be unduly alarmist, it would appear that a hazard potentially exists here for both waterfowl and humans.  Accordingly, I would ask if any research is being or has been done in this area, or is at least being considered.

Should a hazard be confirmed, there is the option, albeit expensive, of having operators extensively treat the waste generated by these industrial pig farms. Perhaps, again if a hazard is determined, the problem could also be circumvented in a large part by covering industrial pig farm sewage pits and curtailing the spread of pig waste during the main migration period. 

In this respect, I have noted the Minister of Environment's powers under Section 36.1 of the Migratory Bird Regulations and the stipulation under Section 35.1 which states in part " ... no person shall deposit ..... wastes or other substances harmful to migratory birds in any waters or any area frequented by migratory birds."

I would appreciate your comments on the foregoing .

Your Sincerely
Jim Graham
920 Dickinson Way
Parksville , B.C.
V9P 1Z7

cc: Minister Anderson's Office
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