Canadian

The Tragic Tale of the Great Auk

Jan Thornhill's The Tragic Tale of the Great Auk is a historical look at the gradual extinction of the seafaring birds.

Jan Thornhill

For hundreds of thousands of years Great Auks thrived in the icy seas of the North Atlantic, bobbing on the waves, diving for fish and struggling up onto rocky shores to mate and hatch their fluffy chicks. But by 1844, not a single one of these magnificent birds was alive.The birds managed to escape their predators much of the time until humans became seafarers.Great Auks were pursued first by Vikings, then by Inuit, Beothuk and finally European hunters. Their numbers rapidly dwindled. They became collectors' items - their skins were stuffed for museums, to be displayed along with their beautiful eggs. 

Although undeniably tragic, the final demise of the Great Auk led to the birth of the conservation movement. Laws were eventually passed to prevent the killing of birds during the nesting season, and similar laws were later extended to other wildlife species. (From Groundwood Books Ltd)

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