By MPP Toby Barrett
National Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Heritage Day in Canada — Sept. 21 this year — is set aside to pay tribute not only to our heritage, but also to honour conservation groups that ensure there are outdoor opportunities for future generations.
“Huntin’, fishin’, and lovin’ every day,
That’s the prayer that a country boy prays”
Luke Bryan’s 2015 hit song sums up life for a good portion of the population in Haldimand and Norfolk. Haldimand-Norfolk boasts countless hotspots for both hunting and fishing enthusiasts.
Ducks Unlimited held its first Canadian fundraising dinner in Tillsonburg in 1974. That chapter moved to Port Rowan for its second dinner where it has remained. Chapter members proudly display their chapter number as “1”. This year’s dinner was Sept. 20, on Camo Day.
Since that first dinner, many major conservation organizations have launched their own banquet programs locally. In our riding, I think of Delta Waterfowl, the Ruffed Grouse Society and Canadian Wild Turkey Federation. I would also proudly point out that our local organizations are some of the top fundraising chapters in the country for their respective organizations. Again, this is testament to the area’s conservation ethic.
Speaking of wild turkey, Norfolk was at the forefront of bringing this bird back to Ontario. Area resident Dave Reid worked within the Ministry of Natural Resources on the initiative. Long Point cottagers Dr. Dave Ankney and Joel Hopkins provided the initial push to get the turkey reintroduction off the ground. Norfolk County was also one of the first locations for turkey releases and had one of the first hunts. Bringing wild turkey back was a partnership between several conservation organizations. Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, and the National Wild Turkey Federation were instrumental.
Provincial, national and international organizations are not the lone contributors to the environment. I think of all the work done on the Grand River by the Dunnville Hunters and Anglers Association. Formed in 1937, this group has a hatchery on their property to raise walleye and supplement the population in Lake Erie. They also have trap, rifle and pistol ranges, and host great perch dinners.
Travelling further up the Grand, the Caledonia Hunters and Anglers Association hosts its fishing derby for young people and a fall walleye derby.
Long Point and Area Fish and Game Club has also made its mark, organizing fish derbies, pheasant release and providing novices with hunting and fishing adventures.
We tip our hat to all the waterfowl hunting clubs. Where would the marshes of Long Point and Turkey Point be today if hunt clubs had not purchased the land years ago and saved it from development?
The work of conservation groups goes well beyond wildlife reintroductions. These groups have also done a lot for habitat restoration in the wetlands and forests.
If you are an angler or hunter, thank you for the valuable work of proactive conservation, and the protection and enhancement of our hunting and fishing heritage.
Toby Barrett is MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk