Stores running short on ice-locked coast
WebPosted May 8 2003 10:54 AM NDT

CORNER BROOK Stores in southern Labrador are short of supplies as heavy ice prevents the Strait of Belle Isle ferry from operating. Gaius Trimm of the Labrador Straits Chamber of Commerce says stores are running out of items that aren't economical to bring in by plane, including potatoes, milk and sugar

The chamber wants provincial Transportation Minister Jim Walsh to arrange for an icebreaker to assist the Apollo, the ferry which serves the coast. Walsh says his department is working on it. "I believe we've got to find a solution here to help these people, as well, and I've instructed the department to vigorously work towards accomplishing that." He says getting an icebreaker isn't a big challenge, but finding a suitable docking facility on the Newfoundland side is.

The Apollo usually docks in ice-bound St. Barbe. The alternates being considered include St. Anthony, Corner Brook and Stephenville. The Canadian Coast Guard says ice conditions in the northern part of the Gulf of St Lawrence are the worst they've been in 20 years. Capt. Brian Penney, superintendent of Coast Guard operations, says even icebreakers are finding it difficult to move through the area. "I can anticipate probably at least a week to two weeks before we can even reasonably expect to get shipping moving to any extent, and then it's going to be difficult movements at that time," Penney says. He says the conditions won't improve substantially until warmer weather arrives.

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Quebec officials under fire for shooting bear
WebPosted Jun 5 2003 09:05 AM NDT
 

BLANC SABLON Quebec wildlife officials are being criticized for killing a polar bear near the Labrador border.

The 180-kilogram bear was shot Sunday on an island near Blanc Sablon.

It's the third polar bear that has been killed in the area in the last 10 years.

Bear not aggressive

Local people say the bear wasn't aggressive.

It had been hanging around for about a week when wildlife officers decided to shoot it.

Michelle Walsh, a local radio reporter, says Quebec wildlife officials told her that killing the bear was their own option.

But people in the area disagree.

"They say that should have been the last alternative, not the only alternative," Walsh says.

Ignored help

A Newfoundland and Labrador wildlife officer tried to help trap the animal by arranging to bring a bear cage to the area, but Quebec wildlife officials didn't wait, Walsh says.

Quebec's wildlife department doesn't have a tranquilizer gun in the Blanc Sablon area for problem bears.

The Quebec Government says it's considering putting a tranquilizer gun in the area.

 
Wildlife officers ignored advice. Animal had travelled to uninhabited island near Blanc-Sablon, probably seeking food
KEVIN DOUGHERTY
The Gazette
Saturday, June 28, 2003

An errant polar bear, who was shot to death near Blanc-Sablon earlier this month, did not have to die, says a Quebec government veterinarian whose advice on handling the bear was ignored.

"If she is not bothering anybody, leave her alone," was the advice Bob Patenaude, a veterinarian with the Quebec City zoo and aquarium, gave wildlife officers."The next thing I knew, they shot her."Quebec wildlife officers, assisted by the Sûreté du Québec, pumped three high-powered rifle shots into the polar bear, a small, 200-kilogram female, rather than tranquilizing her and moving her to her natural habitat.They said they believed she would have died anyway because she had been recently tranquilized and a second tranquilizer shot would be fatal."They had no choice," Mathieu St-Amant, spokesperson for Pierre Corbeil, Quebec's junior natural resources minister who is responsible for wildlife protection, said at the time, explaining the bear had been previously tranquilized in Labrador."It isn't true at all," Patenaude told The Gazette yesterday. The Gazette wrote about the polar bear shooting after a reporter and photographer team travelled to the remote Lower North Shore for a story on the economic disaster in the region caused by double moratoriums on the cod and crab fisheries.Patenaude, who cares for polar bears and other large mammals, said a polar bear can be tranquilized "five, 10, 20 times a year" without killing it.In a news release, la Société de la faune et des parcs du Québec said a second dose of the tranquilizing drug "will certainly kill it. The veterinarian of the Société confirms this."Patenaude, who in addition to his zoo and aquarium duties is a consultant to the Société de la faune, is peeved he was was misquoted in the news release and that he wasn't even named.What Patenaude told wildlife officers was an animal that has been tranquilized has to be tagged because the tranquilizing drug remains in the animal's body for a year and anyone eating the meat of such an animal could die."It cannot be used for human consumption for one year," he said.Benoît L'Allier, the spokesperson for the Société de la faune, whose name appeared on the news release, admitted yesterday the news release was wrong."There was a mistake in the communiqué," he said, adding wildlife officers misunderstood what Patenaude had told them.The polar bear travelled to uninhabited Greenley Island, about a kilometre offshore from Blanc-Sablon, by ice flow, looking for seals. It was on the island for about a week before Quebec wildlife officers decided to act, fearing for the Blanc-Sablon residents' safety.Patenaude said the polar bear should have been left alone. If no one left food for it, the polar bear would return to its natural home on its own, he explained.It is believed people left seal meat for the polar bear to eat and a crowd gathered in Blanc-Sablon when the polar bear came ashore. Wildlife officers had ordered a cage from Labrador, which arrived about the same time the bear was shot.L'Allier said last year 11 polar bears in the area returned to their natural habitat on their own, but residents of the Lower North Shore, who have no road link to the rest of Quebec, are angry this was the third polar bear in two years to be shot.One complication is there is no tranquilizer kit in the Blanc-Sablon sector. L'Allier said the Société de la faune is looking into the possibility of adding one. That would require special training in the safe use of the powerful tranquilizing agent and a team of two officers trained in cardio pulmonary resuscitation in case a handling officer pricks himself by mistake.kdougherty@thegazette.canwest.com

© Copyright 2003 Montreal Gazette

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Cod signs look promising
WebPosted Nov 11 2003 11:39 AM NST


CORNER BROOK  -  A Department of Fisheries and Oceans scientist (DFO) says cod stocks off western Newfoundland appear to be improving. Martin Castonguay, DFO's head cod scientist at Mont Joli, Quebec, says it's still too soon to know if a small commercial harvest is possible next year. That decision will be made after a full assessment is completed in March. Ottawa shut down the cod fishery last spring.

Castonguay says many of the key indicators point to a much healthier stock now. DFO scientists are in the province this week to meet with fishermen. Bill Crocker of Trout River says he's seeing more fish this year than in the late 1960s. Fishermen have been providing that kind of anecdotal evidence since the cod fishery was closed, but scientists now say there's evidence to support that claim. Minister makes the call The sentinel catch this year is up, and the fishery for other species had to be closed because of the high cod by-catch. Castonguay says the signs are good, but he still doesn't know if it's enough to get the fishery opened. "That's $100 question that I obviously cannot answer," he says. The only person who can answer that is federal Fisheries Minister Robert Thibault in March.
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Blizzard buries car, couple survives
WebPosted Jan 28 2004 12:34 PM NST

CORNER BROOK  -  A man and a woman from Quebec ware stranded for 21 hours in their snow-buried car during this week's storm in southern Labrador. Sylvio Morencey of Blanc Sablon says he checked the weather forecast on the internet and found nothing threatening before he and girlfriend Lise Lepage set out Sunday for Red Bay, Labrador, less than 90 kilometres away. On their return journey, conditions were good until they reached Forteau hill, just outside L'Anse-au-Clair. "Then we got stuck into a snow bank," he says. Soon they were in the middle of a blizzard. They couldn't see a thing and they had to turn the engine off because snow had clogged the exhaust. "I had a plan to leave, but the girlfriend says, 'no, it's better to stay with the car," Morencey recalls. "So we decided to stay with the car."

Seats as survivial gear
As the blizzard continued through the night and into Monday, they had to improvise to survive. "We took all the seats apart and we used that for vests and leg warmers, we used the foam for socks," Morencey says. The car quickly became buried under almost two metres of drifted snow. Morencey says they heard snowmobiles passing overhead. To signal their location, they used shoe strings to tie together rods from the seat springs and pushed the rods up through the snow. Searcher Brad Letto says that's what attracted the attention of searchers who were probing the drifts with metal rods of their own. "We saw a piece of steel sticking out of the snow. We stuck the rod down - missed the car the first time. When we stuck the rod down the second time we hit the car," Letto says. "That was the nicest sound I ever heard in a long while," Morencey says. The searchers then dug Morencey and Lepage out of the car. They were cold, but otherwise OK. Morencey admits during the last couple of hours they doubted they would survive. Morencey says he has two vehicles. His van is fully equipped with winter survial gear, but his car isn't. Morencey says he chose the wrong vehicle for the trip. People in southern Labrador have been criticizing the provincial government for failing to keep the area's roads cleared. The highway, which opened a couple of years ago, frequently is clogged with snow in exposed areas and rock cuts.

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Blanc Sablon storm keeps pl ayers on ice
Web Posted | Jan 26 2004 04:59 PM EST

QUEBEC CITY - High winds and frigid temperatures have kept many Quebecers indoors over the past few weeks, but in a small northeastern Quebec town this weekend the full force of winter's wrath stranded some 84 hockey players in an arena.

The party was in full swing inside the Blanc Sablon arena when gale-force winds started pounding the outside of the building. About 84 hockey players were celebrating the end of a weekend hockey tournament. The Blanc-Sablon Storm won the tourney-but by early morning, the real storm outside made it too dangerous to leave. "One guy left here on ski-doo last night and he got halfway to his house and he hit a snowbank that he couldn't get over so he had to leave his snowmobile and continue walking the rest of the way to get home," said Barbara Bolger, who manages the arena. "That's when he called back and said nobody else leave the arena-it's too dangerous." Bolger said the hockey players are getting restless. She said that some of them even started playing hockey again to pass the time. Although the arena is crowded, Bolger said there's enough room for everyone. "Some people managed to get some sleep in the dressing rooms on the hockey bags and upstairs here in the arena we have a hall for dances and things and people were up there sleeping on the benches-wherever you could put your head down, basically," she said. It's the third time in about a week that Blanc Sablon has seen these kinds of weather conditions. The storm is supposed to clear up by Tuesday morning.
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Blanc Sablon hockey players rescued
Web Posted | Jan 27 2004 02:12 PM EST

QUEBEC CITY - More than 80 hockey players and fans trapped in an arena after a fierce storm ripped through the Blanc Sablon area this weekend were rescued during a brief break in the blizzard Monday night.

After 30 hours stranded at the Blanc Sablon arena, the hockey players were settling in for another long night. Getting out of the rink was deemed too dangerous. Winds were gusting at over 120 kilometres per hour, and two-metre-high drifts blocked the exit. At around 8 p.m. the winds subsided, and someone was banging at the door. Arena manager Barbara Bolger couldn't believe her eyes. "People were running and screaming, and I thought, 'oh my god what has happened?'" she said. "And when I ran out I saw somebody at the door, shovelling, trying to get in." A local fisherman had shovelled his way to the door of the arena. Others had come out of their homes on snowmobiles to help the stranded get out. Around the same time, Jean-Louis Beaudoin noticed his best friend missing. He hadn't returned from a trip to Labrador the night before. Beaudoin convened a search party, and before the winds could pick up again, they found the car, buried under 1.5 metres of snow. "They found him. He was pretty cold," said Beaudoin. "He was smart, he had a hose in his car and he pushed it up through the snow to get some air, to keep breathing. Keep yourself alive." Large drifts of snow still block most of the roads, but most people say they are just happy to be back home. Kim McNairn, CBC News, Quebec City High winds and frigid temperatures have kept many Quebecers indoors over the past few weeks, but in a small northeastern Quebec town this weekend the full force of winter's wrath stranded some 84 hockey players in an arena. Playing hockey, again The party was in full swing inside the Blanc Sablon arena when gale-force winds started pounding the outside of the building. About 84 hockey players were celebrating the end of a weekend hockey tournament. The Blanc-Sablon Storm won the tourney?but by early morning, the real storm outside made it too dangerous to leave. "One guy left here on ski-doo last night and he got halfway to his house and he hit a snowbank that he couldn't get over so he had to leave his snowmobile and continue walking the rest of the way to get home," said Barbara Bolger, who manages the arena. "That's when he called back and said nobody else leave the arena?it's too dangerous." Bolger said the hockey players are getting restless. She said that some of them even started playing hockey again to pass the time. Although the arena is crowded, Bolger said there's enough room for everyone. "Some people managed to get some sleep in the dressing rooms on the hockey bags and upstairs here in the arena we have a hall for dances and things and people were up there sleeping on the benches?wherever you could put your head down, basically," she said. It's the third time in about a week that Blanc Sablon has seen these kinds of weather conditions. The storm is supposed to clear up by Tuesday morning.


© 2005 Christelle Fortin-Vaillancourt
Cafe Press