I was lucky to have a father who treated his three daughters as though they were boys — at least that idea was relevant when I was a kid.
My father took us for nature walks before nature walks were cool — or were called nature walks. He taught us how to fish, how to pluck ducks, how to identify trees and animal tracks and bird songs (at least what he knew), and he taught us — especially me, it has turned out — to have deep respect for nature and wildlife. Except snakes. He has no love for snakes.
When I was growing up, it was his talking about and pointing out examples of the problems he saw with “roadkill” that first informed my awareness and concern for wildlife injured and killed by vehicles. Dad didn’t like what he was seeing: an increase in the incidence of animals being hit by cars; and he didn’t like that a lot of people just keep going when they hit an animal.
My father’s love of nature and sense of responsibility helped form my own, and I am grateful for his influence every day.
My wish for Father’s Day is that more people start thinking about and acting like my dad does when it comes to wild animals hit by vehicles. Wildlife deserves our attentiveness while driving and our respect and decency when they are the casualties of collisions. Watch for Wildlife is a wildlife-vehicle collision prevention program that will give information to drivers and visitors to Nova Scotia, both to prevent collisions and so people know how to respond when collisions do occur.
If we slow down, we can avoid most collisions. If we are scanning ahead for wildlife and use our high beams as often as possible when we drive, we can often see animals ahead of time and brake in time to miss them.
If we are especially wary in high-collision areas and at dawn and dusk when most wildlife are killed, we can increase our chances of not hitting wild creatures as we drive. And we can call in collisions when they occur to either a wildlife rescue or the provincial Department of Natural Resources.
If you are reading this and you are a dad — or you are someone like a dad to a young person — I hope you get outside today and share something about the natural world with children whom you love. I promise you, they won’t forget it, and it might shape how they think about and treat the world and the creatures that inhabit it.
Your child might even grow up to be an environmentalist and work to effect positive change, driven by a concern for nature that you instilled in them.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad: you are an inspiration and my hero.
And Happy Father’s Day to all dads — including the wild ones.
Wanda Baxter lives and works on an old farm north of Lunenburg. She sits on the executive committee (Atlantic) of the Sierra Club Canada Foundation and is program manager of Watch for Wildlife NS. The new Watch for Wildlife NS program launches in July with support of the Animal Welfare Canada Foundation, the Nova Scotia Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (Road Safety Division), Hope for Wildlife and others.
If you are interested in volunteering with Watch for Wildlife NS or in donating to the program, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 902-275-8895.