Moncton Fish and Game Takes a Stand on Herbicide Spraying
The Moncton Fish and Game Association have always been known for a deep involvement in conservation. They are more than just a conventional fish and game association. They are proud of the work that they're able to do annually toward conservation and the outdoors. It is part of who they are, and perhaps that is why nobody should have been surprised when, this winter the Moncton Fish and Game Association made the unusual move of taking an official stance on the spraying of herbicides on crown and public land in New Brunswick by sending an official letter to the local MLAs along with the Minister of Natural Resources about it. The letter is as follows:
Hon. Denis Landry
Minister of Natural Resources
As a resident of the Province of New Brunswick, I am deeply concerned that the spraying of our forests is a very dangerous practice that is irresponsible, reckless and potentially affecting the health of its residents.
As the President of the Moncton Fish & Game Association, I am also concerned that spraying is also killing our wildlife. Animals in the forest and fish in our waterways are allegedly suffering the negative effects of the spraying of our woodlands. We know that the practice is legal and permissible in our province however we need to ask ourselves should it continue? Should companies be allowed to spray to prevent hardwood growth? Should they be allowed to spray to prevent the spread of berries and other nutrients that wildlife eat?
As a province that relies very heavily on its natural resources, (which by the way include generations of hunters and fishermen all of which bring in tens of millions to our NB economy), we all should be deeply concerned. There is a fine line that we have to respect when dealing with Mother Nature. She is not very forgiving at times and it may take many many years to correct the wrongs of previous generations. While current forestry practices permit vast clear cuts and the related spraying of these chemicals, all of these activities must be analyzed.
Potentially, a moratorium on spraying could be put into place until more scientific information is available. We know that this government is not opposed to moratoriums as is evident by the current one on fracking. Rather than point fingers at companies which will garner the whole cause no credibility at all, we as residents and people who enjoy the outdoors, people concerned for our own health and the health of our children, we all need to band together and question the government in a relentless, credible yet organized public campaign to end this practice once and for all.
Forestry activities will continue and as a manageable resource they rightfully should continue; however, neighbouring Provinces of Nova Scotia and Quebec are doing very well with their forestry practices, both enjoying great revenues which belong to the taxpayers and they are NOT spraying. If they can do it then why are we not able to continue forestry operations without spraying and potentially harming people, wildlife and fish?
The Moncton Fish & Game Association has taken an official stance that we do not support the spraying of our woodlands.
Thank you and I look forward to a response.
Robert Snider, President
Moncton Fish & Game Association
For those who may not be aware, the Province of New Brunswick annually spends millions of dollars each year to spray herbicides on the crown lands (public owned) which make up more than 50% of the land mass. In addition, they have other programs to encourage and compensate private landowners to use herbicides as a management tool. Essentially, herbicides are used to kill the hardwood species to let the faster growing softwood trees grow without competition, leading to a largely monoculture of only softwood species in the crown forests. Professionals such as Rod Cumberland, the former provincial deer biologist, have pointed to these management methods as the primary reason the whitetail deer population has dropped from around 250,000+ in the 1980s to under 60,000 today. In addition, global scientists have recently been sounding the alarm bells over the safety of glyphosate, one of the major chemicals sprayed on the NB forests. The World Health Organization (WHO) has listed it as a probable cause of cancer, and it has been showing direct links to Lymphoma, a cause of Cancer that has perhaps not coincidentally, been on the rise in New Brunswick. The provincial department of health is undertaking a review of the safety of glyphosate however they were criticized in the fall when the chief medical officer was removed for reasons not publically available.
The Province of New Brunswick has recently undergone a broad consultation process to try to reign in their spending and bring the budget into balance by 2020-21, and yet the $11m in management fees being paid to private companies to spray herbicide and manage the crown forests was apparently not on the table. The provincial Auditor General said in 2015 the program doesn't appear to be properly tracked and pointed out that the stumpage fees paid by private companies to harvest the wood don't cover the costs of the management fees, resulting in a shortfall.
Wilderness Obsession: Can you let us know when the decision was made to make this unprecedented stand? Was this at the board level or at a general meeting?
Robert Snider - The decision was formed at a monthly meeting and a motion was drawn up and passed by the membership at this meeting. It read as follows:
- Motion is hereby made that the Moncton Fish & Game Association requests that the New Brunswick Wildlife Federation publicly state their position on the spraying of the forests of NB. By presenting this motion and subsequently approving it (by means of a vote of members present at this meeting) be it known that the MFGA “does not support the spraying of our woodlands” as it is having a severe detrimental effect on the natural inhabitants of the forests and waters and this practice must stop. Research past and ongoing, has shown that Glyphosate is a potential carcinogen and we cannot support this practice without suffering drastic losses to fish and wildlife in our province. Neighbouring provinces of NS and Quebec have ceased spraying and we request that the NBWF petition the province to follow suit. We therefore ask that the NBWF consider the MFGA’s position on spraying and consider this when speaking to the subject at the upcoming Board of Directors meeting in Fredericton.
It should be noted that at the recent Annual General Meeting (April 2016) of the NBWF,a Resolution (which ends up being adopted by the Federation and presented formally to Government) was passed and accepted.It read as follows:
TITLE : Resolution on Forestry Herbicide Spraying
Whereas: Be it known that the Moncton Fish and Game Association does not support the spraying of our woodlands and it believes that current herbicide spraying in the forestry, power and transportation sectors is having a severe detrimental effect on the natural ecology and inhabitants of the forests and waters of the Province of New Brunswick.
Whereas: Sustainability is not only defined in economic terms but also must consider environmental and social factors in both the short and long term;
Whereas: Research, past and ongoing, has shown that the broad spectrum herbicide Glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans” (World Health Organization);
Whereas: In Quebec, spraying was ceased in 2001 and in Nova Scotia “no public funds are directed to herbicide spraying for forestry” (NS Nat Res Strategy 2010); and
Whereas: The New Brunswick Wildlife Federation speaks to government as a unified voice representing its member Fish and Game Associations.
Be it resolved that:
- The New Brunswick Wildlife Federation publicly state their position on the spraying of herbicides upon the crown / public lands of NB; and
- The New Brunswick Wildlife Federation petition the government of New Brunswick to cease forest herbicide spraying on crown / public lands.
Wilderness Obsession: Was there a particular breaking point that brought you to making this stand?
Robert - The topic was raised by a member from the floor at a monthly meeting and after a discussion, a motion was presented and adopted at the general monthly meeting. It was voted on unanimously that night.
Wilderness Obsession: What level of support was there within the club in making the official stand requesting the end of the herbicide program?
Robert - It was a unanimous vote in support by all members present there that evening.
Wilderness Obsession: How many members does the Moncton Fish & Game have?
Robert - Currently the Association stands in excess of 300 members for 2016 thus far with more joining all the time.
Wilderness Obsession: Can you speak to what kind of negative effect the club believes the herbicide program is having on the local forest?
Robert - We are all individual members with a collective aim to preserve the habitat for wildlife. Animals in the forest and fish in the waterways are all allegedly suffering the effect of herbicides and spraying. We are all reading the media reports and even checking scientific documents and reports for data on both sides of the argument. It seems though that there is much more information leaning towards the detrimental effects it has once applied to forests and lands.
Wilderness Obsession: Are you hearing any stories from members of the club on the effect they have seen or experienced in the New Brunswick forests?
Robert - We certainly do! As you can imagine most of our members are outdoors people, that is to say they are always outdoors hunting, fishing or just enjoying nature whether it be through photography or other recreational pursuits. We constantly hear stories of how there are areas where there are no birds, squirrels, rabbits, deer and other large game where in fact, they had survived before. These areas are all areas that have been sprayed in some manner or another.
Wilderness Obsession: Since we know you to be an avid hunter and also fisherman, can you speak to what you personally feel about the effect of the NB management practices on the fish and wildlife in our province?
Robert - As an avid hunter and outdoorsman I have my own opinions on what is taking place. Forestry clear cutting practices (while providing work for NB’ers) are done in a manner that is seemingly raping the land. Destroying forest habitat, making wildlife move to areas not normally inhabited by their particular species is all putting a strain on the wildlife in our province. The planting of single species forests is not what our wildlife need or can sustain themselves on.
Wilderness Obsession: Your letter was printed in the local newspaper (Moncton Times & Transcript), and also on social media. Have you seen any responses from the general public and what might those have been?
Robert - Shortly after the letter was published in the newspaper, I received a few emails of support and even a few phone calls. They felt that it was perfect that an organization such as ours had taken the time to finally take a stance with a public opinion on a topic as sensitive as this one has become and will remain so as it does not seem to be fading away. Many people as well wanted to hear about the reply that I received back fromt eh Minister, if in fact there ever would be one. (Yes there was and it was in the “form letter” manner with a bunch of meaningless political speak).
Wilderness Obsession: Have you heard from any of the politicians or public figures to whom this was sent, and if so, what has been their response?
Robert - All MLA’s in the province were sent a copy of the letter via email. The only ones I heard back from were the following responses:
Thank you for your email to the Hon. Bill Fraser. Please be assured it will be brought to his attention.
Executive Secretary to Minister
Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture
Secrétaire de direction au ministre
Ministère du Tourisme, du Patrimoine et de la Culture
- I will be pursuing this in the Legislature again when we return on Feb. 2. The Pesticides Control Act clearly gives the Minister of Health the responsibility to act in the face of health risks from pesticides. Thank you for taking this initiative.
MLA, Fredericton South
Deputé de Fredericton-sud
Leader, Green Party of New Brunswick
Chef du Parti vert du Nouveau Brunswick
- Good morning Mr. Snider,
Honourable Minister Dr. Ed Doherty has received and read your e-mail and thanks you for your correspondence.
Lise Morin, B.O.M.
Executive Secretary / secrétaire de direction
Minister’s Office /cabinet du ministre
Service New Brunswick, Aboriginal Affairs and Economic and Social Inclusion Corporation
Wilderness Obsession: Currently, there is an ongoing petition drive for signatures to prevent spraying glyphosate on our forests being spearheaded by a group called "Stop Spraying New Brunswick". Are you requesting that your membership distribute and attempt to gather signatures to this movement?
Robert - Individual members of the Assoc are obviously free to sign what petitions that they want to for personal reasons. While the I personally took the opportunity to a letter to the Minister of Natural Resources informing them of our Association’s official stance, the Executive will not sign a petition in an official capacity. Individuals are free to sign at their own free will. If a letter is penned later on to which a group seeks our official input then we would discuss this as an organization and then vote on whether to support it in that particular manner. We operate in a democratic manner representing all aspects of our Assoc.
Wilderness Obsession: Where can you go from here? Is there any plans beyond this to push for more support, perhaps at the New Brunswick Wildlife Association level?
Robert - As explained above, a resolution was passed to request that the NBWF outline their policy of herbicide spraying to the government through their annual resolution submission process. I am sure more is to follow on that front as they actually get to meet face to face with DNR and the Minister in the future to discuss all the resolutions.
We thank Robert Snider for taking the time to speak with us today. For more information about the discussion about herbicide spraying, you can check out other articles on our website, or the "Stop Spraying New Brunswick" Facebook Group.
Contact us and let us know!