Hikers and campers will soon be headed into the great outdoors in droves for some much needed wilderness therapy after a long, snowy winter. Of course, there's nothing like a wildlife sighting or two – perhaps a moose ambling along the trail or a hungry gray jay sneaking off with some picnic lunch - to feel at one with nature.
But what if you come across a bear?
According to Todd Hollett, a provincial government wildlife technician, if a bear approaches you, "Stay calm and give it space, ensuring that it has an escape route. Back away slowly, while speaking calmly and firmly. Never run or climb a tree, as this may evoke a predatory response. Avoid eye contact so as not to challenge the bear. Always be extremely careful around a bear with cubs. If a bear attacks, DO NOT PLAY DEAD. Fight back, making lots of noise as you do. If you have bear spray, use it."
For more of Todd's bear safety tips, plus all the facts you need to know about the two bear species that roam our province, see "Where The Bears Are" in the May 2014 issue of Downhome.
If you see a bear in or around your community, or become aware of a habituated bear, call your nearest Conservation Officer at your local Department of Natural Resources Office.
March 31, 2014 marks a sombre anniversary in Newfoundland and Labrador. On that day 100 years ago, the sealing vessel SS Southern Cross disappeared, never to be seen or heard from again. The disaster took more lives in a single sealing accident than any other in the history of the province – yet no evidence of what happened on that fateful March night ever surfaced.
The ship, bought and sold several times since it was built in 1886, was a Norwegian whaler and an Antarctic explorer before it saw its first Newfoundland seal hunt as one of the Baine Johnson fleet in the spring of 1901.
On March 12, 1914, Captain George Clarke of Brigus and his crew of 173 young sealers from Conception Bay left St. John's for the Southern Cross's fourteenth hunt in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. On their way home, with a full load of pelts, they were seen by the crew of the SS Portia about five miles off Cape Pine at 11:00 a.m. on March 31. At the time, a snowstorm reduced visibility almost to nil. The captain of the Portia hailed the Southern Cross, which had no wireless communication onboard, with the ship's horn. Captain Clarke returned the gesture, indicating all was well. But sometime after the Portia sailed away, the Southern Cross and all 174 men onboard vanished without a trace.
The Fluvarium and the Atlantic Salmon Federation are partners in a special annual program offered to school children called "Fish Friends." This year, 2009, approximately 17 schools on the Avalon Peninsula are taking part in the program, sponsored locally by Newfoundland Power.
Fish Friends is designed to educate and inform children about the importance of conservation and protection of the Atlantic salmon. During the early part of March, the schools are given about 120 salmon eggs in incubators for their classrooms. The children "raise" the eggs until the early part of June, by which point the salmon have entered the fry stage. The students bring the fry to the Fluvarium and release these "baby salmon" into the river. The purpose of the release is not to try to reintroduce the salmon, but rather to teach the children about the lifecycle of the fish.
With 17 schools taking part this year, that's about 2,000 fry being released. It sounds like a lot, but the unfortunate reality in nature is that salmon eggs have only a 1/16th chance of survival to adulthood (or 125 salmon from those 2,000 fry).
To find out all about the nature of trout, see the May issue of Downhome.
Besides hosting the awards for the second time, this province and its people have unique connections to the top Juno Award winners:
Anne Murray (24 Junos)
Murray invited session guitarist Buddy Cage to play on four of her albums between 1969 and 1972. Cage also played guitar on Newfoundland folk musician Dick Nolan’s album, Newfoundland Songbook Volume 1.
Celine Dion (20 Junos)
Great Big Sea’s Bob Hallett referred to Canada as “the land of Celine” in a 1998 interview with the New York Times. Dion was getting really popular at the time with her hit song “My Heart Will Go On” from the soundtrack to the movie Titanic. And in September 2003, Downhome reported that Dion’s marketing director was, in fact, a Newfoundlander – St. John’s native Jennifer Dunne.
Bryan Adams (18 Junos)
Newfoundland country singer Tara Oram sang Bryan Adams’ power ballad “Heaven” in episode 6 of 2007’s “Canadian Idol.” She made it to the top 6 before being eliminated and went on to a successful independent career. And during this year’s Junos in St. John’s, Bryan Adams was honoured with the Allan Waters Humanitarian Award for his fundraising and social awareness work.
Alanis Morrisette (12 Junos)
Morrisette sung “Hands Clean” at the 2002 Junos in St. John’s along with Nelly Furtado, Shaggy, and Diana Krall.
Shania Twain (12 Junos)
This biggest-selling female country artist of all time owns two brown Newfoundland dogs named Coal and Mocha.
The Tragically Hip (12 Junos)
“The Dire Wolf” on The Tragically Hip’s 2002 album In Violet Light was inspired by a stormy ferry crossing between North Sydney and Port au Basques. The voyage was delayed by bad weather until, in the words of Gord Downey, “They finally saw a window and we launched.” The song describes Isle aux Morts in September, the Newfoundland dog, and rough waters large enough to capsize a boat bigger than the one they were on. “I would have been okay if they just put it off,” says Downey. “This song sort of came out of that.”
Gordon Lightfoot (11 Junos)
Lightfoot played shows at the Holy Heart Theatre in St. John’s on March 29 and 30, and also at the Pepsi Centre Concert Bowl in Corner Brook on March 31.
Blue Rodeo (10 Junos)
Frontman Jim Cuddy says he doesn’t indulge in George Street partying when he visits the province these days because it interferes with his sleep. The band has headlined the Splash Concert in Grand Falls-Windsor (part of the annual Salmon Festival) and the George Street Festival in St. John’s, and has performed at Mile One Centre.
Charles Dutoit (10 Junos)
Dutoit, as conductor of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, won a Juno Award for best classical album at the 2002 Junos in St. John’s.