HELEN MANN: Hello, I'm Helen Mann, sitting in for Carol Off.
JEFF DOUGLAS: Good evening, I'm Jeff Douglas. This is As It Happens.
HM: Up in smoke. A 24-storey high-rise in West London is consumed by fire, and while the neighbourhood and the world were watching in horror, our guest left his house down the street to take action.
JD: Blowhard feelings. To the families of victims of the Sandy Hook massacre, the upcoming NBC interview with shouting conspiracy theorist Alex Jones isn't just offensive – it is an affront.
HM: The crack of the bat. Then, the sound of a gun. At an early-morning practice for a charity baseball game in Alexandria, Virginia, a gunman starts shooting – and now a Louisiana congressman is in critical condition.
JD: The handmade Handmaids. When a pro-choice group dressed in red cloaks and white bonnets to protest at the Ohio Statehouse, it was a nod to a novel that has never seemed more timely: Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale".
HM: The long hot summary. Bob Dylan is suddenly taking heat for his rambling Nobel Lecture – because it seems that, in his discussion of Moby-Dick, he spent some time on an online cheat-sheet site to get a peek at the Pequod.
JD: And...eaglets, they've had a few. But now, a pair of bald eagles are raising a very different chick – a baby red-tailed hawk, which is usually an eagle's mortal, or bird-al, enemy.
As It Happens, the Wednesday edition. Radio that advises you not to poke at it – or it'll be raptor 'round your finger.
Part 1: UK fire: witness, Handmaid's protest
U.K. fire: witness
Guest: Tim Downie
JEFF DOUGLAS: By the time many residents inside Grenfell Tower in West London awoke early this morning, smoke was already heavy in the air. And the flames were right outside their windows.
It didn't take long before the 24-storey building was completely engulfed in flames.
Here's how some residents described this morning's escape.
VOICE 1: There was a the sudden bang on the door. Once I opened the door there was so much smoke I shut the door right back. There was people running down the stairs, it was people. Some people even had some luggage. There was just so much confusion.
VOICE 2: And his neighbors were running down the stairs. There’s a fireman going “Get out of your house.” I ran back in, grabbed the little girl, put her under my dressing gown, that’s all I had on, got my girlfriend up, ran outside, and I looked up. It was just a blaze. Everything… it was an absolute nightmare. It was like something out of a horror movie.
VOICE 3: Look at the fire, you could see a lot of people still in the building at that time flashing their lights, sort of some small young looking kids, no no older than ten, about two of them. They were flashing torches to try and get people's attention down below. And you had all of us down the bottom there trying to scream at the fire brigade saying “Look look look look.” So I'm just praying that they go out and there weren’t as many people dead as what we were feared.
JD: Fire crews worked for 12 hours to extinguish the blaze. And while many residents were able to escape, many others did not. Police say the death toll is 12 people but many residents are still missing and the number of victims is expected to rise. Tim Downie lives down the street from Grenfell tower. We reached him in London.
HELEN MANN: Tim Downie, when did you realize this morning that something was so very wrong outside your home?
TIM DOWNIE: At around 1:30, 1:45. Woken up by just the sheer, just incredible amount of noise, of sirens, helicopters shouting. You can hear down in the streets enough to kind of wake you up and take you to a window. I've been out the window and look out and kind of see what was going on and where the tower is just at the end of our road about six hundred meters away. It was just a wall of fire, 24 stories of fire. Just right at the end of your road. It was horrific.
HM: I can't even imagine what would go through you seeing that in that moment.
TD: Just horror, absolute horror, disbelief that that can that is happening in front of you and in your home, pretty much right in the heart of the way you live. And what gets you is then especially where we were, is when the wind changes and you then start to kind of smell the burning, smell that kind of almost like smell of bonfires, that smell that acrid smell of plastic burning. And also that brings with it the voices that you can hear, the cries, the screams of people still inside. Horrific, horrific. And you wake up to that at two o'clock in the morning. Horrendous.
HM: After you looked out the window, then, you went out in the street obviously.
TD: Yeah we went we went out. And there were people running down the street saying they need water, the people that were being brought out need water. So we just grabbed all the bottles of water we had and we took those out at the little kind of corner shops that are around were opening up and we were just taking out just crates and just pallets of water and just taking all that down to the police lines.
HM: How close did you get to the tower.
TD: We got right to the police cordons. So we're talking a couple hundred meters away from it. And there were people that had just been brought down. You would see people, most upsetting things that you heard with you know kids asking where their school friends are. They didn't know quite what was happening. See people in the corner just desperate to find out whether sister was, their brother or aunt. Just not knowing what's happening. And the heat, I can’t understand… Basically the speed at which this fire took and the sheer heat that comes off it was just incredible. I mean how the fire service has dealt with that, I mean I have a friend who was one of the firefighters and she was there for 12 hours.
HM: You mentioned hearing the voices of people shouting and screaming for help. Can you share with us that and anything you might have seen from people who were inside the building?
TD: Just be one of the most horrendous sounds I’ve ever heard and that I thought I would never hear anything, anything like that. But you'd also see people holding children out of windows, people dropping them from the fifth floor. But people were jumping just to try and survive.
HM: There are stories that people saw lights blinking, people deliberately flashing the lights on and off or holding up their cell phones so people could see that they were in their apartment. Did you see any of that?
TD: I did, yeah, absolutely. Absolutely we did. We saw we saw a lot of flashes, just horrendous, and from where we were you could see, I mean this fire, from when I first saw it which I think was about half an hour, 40 minutes after it started. Two hours in the building was engulfed. We're talking a 24 story tower block engulfed in flames which I would never have dreamt in a million years that that that would catch and hold so quickly, so very quickly. I mean, I tried to think if people, it didn't get out. I mean how people would go in and out anyway is just you know, it's unbelievable.
HM: We are learning that there have been complaints for a number of years about this building, many years perhaps and allegations that there was not enough attention paid. We know that there were repairs done last year but in November, a local action group warned that this might be, the building might be at risk of a serious fire. I mean, have you heard any of those complaints prior to the fire?
TD: I have, yes, when they started doing the regeneration area which is for the new leisure center and academy. It was very prevalent in the area about talking about why would you want to put this cladding on. Why would you want to do this? And you know, and not proper attention has been paid to things, the infrastructure of the actual buildings. It was a building that was built in 1974. You know it has methods and styles of building back in 1974 are very very different to how they are 40 odd years later.
And I think there was a lot of disbelief and I think people just would not listen to, the local residents were just pushed aside in favor of, you know this is going to cause 10 million. We don't have any interest in what you have to say and I think it just seems to be an epidemic in this city that the people that are sadly in a situation where they don't have much of a voice are not listened to in any way. And I think that is devastating, devastating when they when they said this. They said “There are problems. There are difficulties.” Only, there was only one stairwell in use in that building of a 24 story building.
HM: One stairwell and one elevator bank.
TD: Yeah. And that should be you know, two at least. Yeah, horrendous.
HM: You know amid all this uncertainty and grief and horror, what are you hearing from people who live in your neighborhood from those residents today given these warnings, given their fears?
TD: There's a sense that there's a real sense of pulling together and unity. The community centers are around that are that have been taking, taking in baby clothes and all the things it needs, just basic essentials toilet paper, things like that [unintelligible]. Things that are needed. And they have been overwhelmed, absolutely overwhelmed by the generosity and the volume of things that people have been just giving, which has been a testimony to what people should do for other people.
HM: Well Tim Downie, I really appreciate you telling us about this. It's just it's hard to imagine, it was hard enough to watch it from this far away on the television, but to live it must be really something for you. Thank you for sharing what you've seen and heard with us.
TD: No problem. Thank you.
HM: All right bye-bye.
JD: Tim Downie lives just down the street from Grenfell Tower in West London and that is where we reached him. We have more on this story on our website, cbc.ca/aih.
JD: They were at a baseball diamond in Alexandria Virginia early this morning practicing for an upcoming game and someone started shooting. As you have been hearing in the news, Steve Scalise – a top-ranking Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives – was shot. And as go to air, is in critical condition. A congressional aide, a lobbyist, and members of the Capitol Police also were injured. The suspected gunman died earlier today. Representative Mo Brooks was at this morning's practice. Here's how he described what happened to CNN:
MO BROOKS: I was on deck, about to hit batting practice on the third base side of home plate and I hear a loud bam, and I look around and behind third base, in the third base dugout which is cinder block, I see a rifle, and I see a little bit of a body and then I hear blam. And then I realize that there's an active shooter. At the same time I hear Steve Scalise over near second base scream. He was shot. He’s our majority whip. The gun was a semi-automatic. It continues to fire at different people. You can imagine all the people in the field scatter. I run around to the first base side of home plate. We have a batting cage. It's got plastic wrapped around it to stop foul balls, and hide behind the plastic, you know that plastic’s not real good. And know I was lying on the ground with two or three others as gunfire continues.
Heard a break in the gunfire and decided to take a chance. Ran from home plate to the first base dugout which is also a cinder block and down about two or three feet so you can have a better cover. There were a number of congressmen and congressional staffers who help us lying on the ground. One of them was wounded in the leg. Took off my belt and myself another congressman, I don't remember who, applied a tourniquet to try to slow down the bleeding.
In the meantime I'm leaning towards the right field side of the dugout. And there’s gunfire within about five or six, seven feet of my head. And I look up and there's a guy with a gun blasting away. Fortunately, it was one of the good guys, one of our security detail who was shooting back.
JD: That was representative Mo Brooks speaking to CNN earlier today. Soon after the events that Mr. Brooks, described Senator Jeff Flake went to help Steve Scalise. He shared that story with MSNBC.
JEFF FLAKE: I ran out to Steve to put pressure on the wound there.
REPORTER: Where was he shot?
JF: In their left hip.
REPORTER: What did he say?
JF: He was coherent and he was asking for water. He was obviously, he laid out there on his own for 10 minutes. It's just we've cut away the jersey and put pressure on it. It was bleeding quite a bit.
REPORTER: Who else was out there on the field with you?
JF: I got out there first and then Brad, a member from Ohio came out. He's a doctor. So we got some, a shirt and put it on there. And then as far as the other members, Steve was the only member shot. There was, two of the Capitol police were shot. One staffer who dove into the dugout with a leg wound and we got somebody belt and put it around there to stop the bleeding. So we were tending to him as well as trying to keep down away from the shooter.
JD: That was Senator Jeff Flake speaking to MSNBC earlier today.
Following the incident. Details have emerged about the alleged shooter. He was reportedly very critical of Republicans. Here is Senator Bernie Sanders speaking about the man.
BERNIE SANDERS: I have just been informed that the alleged shooter at the Republican baseball practice this morning is someone who apparently volunteered on my presidential campaign. I am sickened by this despicable act. And let me be as clear as I can be. Violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society. And I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms.
Real change can only come about through nonviolent action, and anything else runs counter to our most deeply held American values.
JD: That was Bernie Sanders speaking earlier today. For the latest on this story, go to cbc.ca/news.
Guest: Jaime Miracle
JD: Even before the TV series started airing, there was renewed interest in Margaret Atwood's terrifying 1985 novel The Handmaid's Tale. Because, in 2017, its story of the systematic oppression of women seems a little less dystopian than it did before.
The imagery of women cloaked in red and anonymous in their white bonnets, has been embraced by pro-choice protesters around the United States demonstrating against restrictive abortion legislation. And just yesterday, women in costume filed into the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus to make a statement to legislators there.
Jaime Miracle was one of the organizers of that protest. She's the Deputy Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio. We reached her in Washington, D.C.
HM: Ms. Miracle, tell us what it looked like at the Ohio State House yesterday during this protest?
JAIME MIRACLE: Well we had 16 volunteers who were dressed up as the characters from The Handmaid's Tale as handmaids, and they walked into the hearing room, and it was really a stark image because you had 16 women sitting there silently protesting for their right to control access to health care while two older white men were advocating for a bill that would strip them of that right.
HM: How did people react to the women?
JM: It was obvious, even if people didn't totally get what was going on because not everybody of course has read the book or seen the TV show, but they were taken aback by such a visual image because we had so many of them, that they took up the entire front row. You really couldn't miss them. They definitely were also a little bit scared of the protest. They brought extra men from the security department and state troopers into that area to protect, I guess, somebody against these women sitting there silently.
HM: And the silence was part of the protest right?
JM: Oh yeah. Because in the story, handmaidens are not allowed to be spoken unless they're spoken to and they're only allowed to respond with two different phrases. So the women dressed up as handmaids yesterday were really playing the role of a handmaid in the story.
HM: Now you did not wear a bonnet or red cloak. Is that the reason why?
JM: No. I mean we actually had more volunteers than we had costumes for. I did kind of dress, I also was the media spokesperson for the event, one of the most media spokesperson for the event. I did dress up kind of along the same story lines. Aunt Lydia wears a dark brown suit and she's kind of in charge of the handmaid's so I was semi in character and that and that role wearing a dark brown suit in that role.
HM: You know you were inspired by the themes in the book and the TV series but you're not alone in using this as a protest symbol right?
JM: Oh no of course not. I mean Texas was the first state to do this and we are definitely inspired by the great work that those folks did down in Texas. And then also a group in Missouri has also used it in their state house to protest similar abortion restrictions in their states. This is definitely something that has kind of crept across the nation as states have gone after access to abortion, most recently. And it really isn't just about this bill either. Ohio has 18 different restrictions on access to abortion care since 2011 forcing almost half of our clinics to close. So women are being forced to wait longer to get access to care or even to travel out of state. And if you don't have the resources to travel out of state or travel two hours to a clinic, you're already kind of like in the Handmaid's Tale, forced to give birth without your consent. And so when they talk about how this protest is necessary, it really is because we've already created classes of women that do and don't have access to care.
HM: And what are the specifics of the bill that you were protesting yesterday?
JM: It’s a bill we call the abortion method ban. It bans the D and E procedure for abortion. That is the most commonly used abortion procedure in the second trimester. So it begins to be used around 13 weeks.
HM: That's an evacuation abortion right?
JM: Yeah, dilation and evacuation. Yes. So it really you know could ban abortions as early as 13 weeks into a pregnancy leaving the window very small for a woman to be able to access the care that she needs. And with the added restrictions and the clinic closures, we've already seen women being pushed further into their pregnancy because of the regulations. Our 24 hour waiting period that requires two visits to the clinic, the fact that clinics have closed so there's more demand and more patient load on the clinics that still exist. The waiting times are longer. So they're pushing this ban earlier in the pregnancy and restricting access to early terminations as well because of the restrictions. So women are just going to be left without the right to choose.
HM: Why do you think that the handmaid protest is getting so much attention? Why is it effective when we've got other groups… we've got Code Pink on Capitol Hill. Lots of other similar kinds of protest groups on issues like this. Why is this one sort of tweaking people's imagination?
JM: I think of new and different. It hasn't really been done before. The Texas group to my knowledge was the first ones to really use it in a kind of large scale protest. I think the silence is also a big piece and that was something we had talked about with our advocates, because the women who are dressed in the handmaid’s costumes yesterday are some of our most vocal outspoken activists. They’re our clinic escorts. They are amazing people who speak out all the time. So the fact that they sat there silently for almost two hours was a stretch for them as well. But knowing that sometimes silence and visual can be a more powerful protest than in a typical rally with signs and chants and those kinds of things.
HM: On a practical note, how does he get hold of the costumes and their opportunities?
JM: NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio is the organization I work for. And we actually partnered with our statewide abortion fund Women Have Options. And luckily their leader is a master crafter so she was the one who created the hats for all the handmaids. And then we found at a local costume shop the red capes. So we were able to quickly put it together.
HM: Now you yourself have just started reading The Handmaid's Tale for the first time. What is it like to read that book at this particular moment in history?
JM: You know I actually thought about not reading it right now because I do this work every day and it's hard to do. So sometimes you need to escape into your books. But yeah it's a popular thing right now and I'm also one of those people who likes to read the book before seeing any media representation. So before I watched the show, really wanted to read the book. And it really, you know, everybody always says, “Oh this is getting into the Handmaid's Tale territory.” Reading the book how much this really is, how we really are creating these different classes of women, some of them who have control over their lives and some who very much do not.
HM: How likely is it do you think that the Ohio legislature will pass this bill?
JM: I mean we have an anti-choice super majorities in both the Ohio House and the Ohio Senate. I'm sure they have the votes to get it passed. Our governor has shown that he's willing to sign bills that come before him. The only bill that's come before him that he hasn't signed is the six week ban that has been held up and every court as unconstitutional. That was his excuse for doing that. So I mean it's just whether or not they hear our calls and see the resistance that is happening on bills like this.
HM: Ms. Miracle, thank you for talking to us.
JM: Thank you so much.
HM: All right, bye-bye.
JD: Jaime Miracle was one of the organizers of a pro-choice protest at the Ohio State House yesterday. We reached her today in Washington D.C..
JD: One of the things that brings this big old country of ours together is beer. Although sometimes, it does drive us apart. And not just when someone drinks the last one of yours, and you throw half a bowl of ketchup chips at them.
To celebrate Canada's 150th, Central City Brewers and Distillers has collaborated with craft-beer makers across the country to come up with a special collection of brews. It's called the "Red Racer Across the Nation Collaboration", and it includes a dozen beers, one from every province and territory save Nunavut.
But for a while there, Quebec and its lager heads were at loggerheads.
The province's booze body, the SAQ, said it would not offer the collaborative beers for sale. Because, yes, it does come in a 12-pack containing all the beers, including Quebec's contribution. But it was also supposed to come in two different six-packs. One containing the Eastern beers, the other the Western. The Western six, obviously, would not include Quebec's contribution. And since that existed, the SAQ wasn't just refusing to stock those six-packs – it was refusing to stock any of the special beers.
But now, a bridge has been cast between the two solitudes, the two alcohol-itudes: the SAQ has agreed to stock the Red Racer Collaboration – but only the cases of all twelve. Each of which will always include La Belle Province's offering, and none of which will not. So: case closed. And then cracked open.
Part 2: Alex Jones interview, red-tailed hawk adoption
Alex Jones interview
Guest: Kim A. Snyder
ALEX JONES: Sandy Hook is a synthetic, completely fake with actors. In my view, manufactured. I couldn't believe it at first and it just shows how bold they are that they clearly used actors.
JD: That was the voice of Alex Jones, conspiracy theorist, radio host and the man behind the InfoWars website.
It goes without saying that what you just heard Mr. Jones say is categorically untrue. Twenty children and six adults were killed in the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012. But Alex Jones never lets the truth get in the way of a conspiracy theory. And neither do his many followers.
As you may have heard in the news, NBC host Megyn Kelly is facing a backlash over an upcoming interview with Mr. Jones, scheduled to be broadcast this Sunday. On Monday, a charity founded by families of Sandy Hook victims dropped Ms. Kelly as the host of an upcoming gala event, and sent a letter to NBC asking it not to air the interview.
Kim A. Snyder knows some of those families very well. Ms. Snyder is the director of the documentary film Newtown, which is about the shooting's aftermath. We reached her in New York City.
HM: Ms. Snyder, explain to us what Mr. Jones has said about the shooting that has so upset the families of the Sandy Hook victims.
KIM A SNYDER: Well you know, as I understand it, he has been a supporter of you know a group of people who believe and deny that the Sandy Hook massacre of 20 children and their six educators ever happened. That they are crisis actors as he called them and that this was you know, a conspiracy of some kind I guess ostensibly to put forth agendas about gun reform in the U.S..
HM: And how long has he been putting forward this idea?
KAS: For quite some time. I mean I became aware of what you know these, these people who are sometimes called the hoaxers. I was aware of them very early on. I mean Newtown is not the first place they've targeted in you know amidst a bunch of conspiracy theories. But very shortly after 12/14, after that tragedy, I was aware of people being harassed as I started to make our documentary.
HM: So people in Newtown have actually been confronted by some of the people who believe this theory.
KAS: Oh yes, repeatedly. And many not just the parents who it's the cruelest insult of all. But there's all kinds of you know a neighbor who's in my film was you know horribly targeted with things on the Internet. And in fact, early on there were certain people who really wanted to participate in the film and a few of them who said I'm just afraid of these people and so they were sort of bullied into their desire to bear witness and participate in something that they felt was constructive, that their voices were silenced just by my fear that they'd be harassed for years.
HM: Have you yourself felt targeted?
KAS: Yes in a sense I know there's some videos that you know try to debunk our documentary as some kind of Hollywood fiction. What's more upsetting in some ways than being quote “targeted” was I've had several incidences, I think there's a lot more of these followers than people realize. Which is why I personally think it's so risky and dangerous to air this interview with Alex Jones that that's scheduled to happen this weekend on NBC because it does engage far more followers than you might think. And so on the road with the film over the past year, at least three times, I've come across in a shocking way. One was an actual patron of a film festival. You know, one of their sponsors who asked me at the opening night dinner if I really believe this happened. And it was shocking to hear that from someone you know that you would meet in that kind of context, and maybe even more shocking that some of the people around her who had seen the film, felt moved by it, were kind of almost treating it not like “Well that's the craziest thing I ever heard” but sort of like “Well there's two sides to this. Like it's a debate.” And that's what I think is so horribly dangerous. that it epitomizes the worst of this phenomenon that we're calling fake news.
HM: Megyn Kelly as you know is defending the interview. She released a statement yesterday in which she points out that Mr. Jones has enjoyed the support of President Donald Trump who's been on his program, thanked him for his support. That his site, InfoWars has White House press credentials, and that she feels that it's her job to shine a light on him and actually challenge these falsehoods. What do you say to that?
KAS: I think that I would say to that that there is first of all a much better way to do that that you know you could do a very hard hitting piece on conspiracy theorists and what's behind it. And the psychological or political motivations I think that it's the risk of of putting out false narratives about something that is not only just cruel to Newtowners who I came to befriend through this film, but it really, I think people don't realize that it affects all victim communities and all victims of gun violence.
I was cited somewhere that a trauma expert told me that for every person traumatized in something like this, and sadly another one this morning just this morning in our Capitol, there are 200 people who experienced some kind of secondary trauma, you know loved ones and people. That's what the whole gist of our Newtown documentary was about was about the ripple effect. This isn't just, you know, of course we care about protecting our friends in Newtown from more hurt and insult with this kind of horrible, you know false kind of thing. But it's also so many thousands and millions of people beyond that that it insults. So I don't believe that, I think this crosses a line. I believe that people like that feed on penetrating mainstream media. And you know, I just don't think you can really change people's minds, his mind or folks that, I don't think you can go out of. And I think you wouldn't put a Holocaust denier on prime time television. I think you just wouldn't do it.
HM: Ms. Snyder thank you very much for sharing your thoughts with us. I appreciate your time.
KAS: Thanks so much.
HM: OK bye.
JD: Kim A. Snyder is a documentary film-maker, and the director of the film Newtown. We reached her in New York City.
Despite the backlash, NBC says it plans to go forward with the broadcast of Megyn Kelly's interview with Alex Jones this Sunday.
Red-tailed hawk adoption
Guest: David Bird
JD: Families come in all different kinds of combinations but they don't usually include adopting the child of a mortal enemy, and yet that is what is happening in Sydney, British Columbia, where bald eagles have taken a baby red tailed hawk into their nest and started raising it as their own.
David Bird, yes, was a raptor specialist for 40 years at McGill University before retiring to Sydney. He has been monitoring the nest and is currently visiting Montreal which is where we reached him.
HM: David Bird, how do you think this baby red-tailed hawk ended up being adopted by bald eagles?
DAVID BIRD: Well I think that the current hypothesis and probably the one that's most likely is that these bald eagles probably rate as a local red-tail hawk’s nest and grab at least two youngsters and took them back to their nest ostensibly to feed them to their young. But what probably happened is both of them begged so hard to the parents for food at the time that the hormonal desire to kill them to feed their other siblings, the eaglets, basically got overridden by a desire to feed this little young. So essentially they started feeding it and then it got bigger and bigger and now it's roughly five weeks and two days old.
HM: So adoption might not be the right word, at least not an intentional adoptions.
DB: No it wasn't intentional at all. Apparently it's been documented in about two or three times before in the scientific literature with very sketchy details. And no one is certainly paying as much attention as this particular nest is right.
HM: So how do bald eagles and red tailed hawks normally get along in the wild?
DB: Well they were actually rather aggressive to each other. The red tail hawks basically will harass them if they come anywhere near their nest for the very reason that they don't want to have their young taken by them and they'll dive on them a lot and everything else. And in most cases they're so small and agile they get away. There is the odd time when they might be at risk though if a bald eagle flips over on its back.
HM: So what is the scene right now in that nest? What can you tell us about what you're seeing, what how the red tailed hawk looks compared to the eagle siblings at this stage?
DB: It's about five times smaller. And it's basically being aggressive enough to get food. Whenever a parent drops food in the nest and the eaglets are now old enough that when that food comes in the nest, they just grab a big chunk and then go off to a corner and cower over it and mantle it with their wings and then start scarfing it down in great big huge chunks just the same way I eat my supper sometimes.
And the little red-tail sort of runs around from eaglet to eaglet but of course can't get at the food. And so he has to hope that yet more food comes into the nest by the parent so that he gets something for himself. And that's sort of what I'm seeing right now. And he seems to be doing that and the reason is because I think this little hawk thinks he's a bald eagle.
HM: I guess he has no other way to know anything else right? He's been in that nest for weeks.
DB: And I did some studies on this at McGill back in the 80s with two species of falcon, to look for a way of releasing captive bred endangered species into the wild by putting them into the nest of common raptor species. And I found out that when I gave them a choice later on a year later that they chose the wrong mate 50 percent of the time. They chose their foster kind. And so it's very possible that when the little guy, if he's fortunate enough to survive being in the nest and getting out of the nest and then catching food on his own and then later on breeding in two years, he might try to breed with a bald eagle, but I don't think any self-respecting bald eagle would have anything to do with him.
HM: Now he may think that he's a bald eagle but these bald eagle parents are going to at some point realize this is not their baby if they don't already. Right? So how much risk is this thing in?
DB: Actually the thing is you, know it's all driven by hormones. These bald eagles do think this is their baby even though it looks different, it doesn't matter. To them, it's just a runt. But as long as it's begging for food and they'll bring food to it. The problem is is that the Hawk and the three lots are all of an age now where food is brought to them but they're not fed by beak to beak anymore. They're just simply, food is dropped in the nest and they all basically grab it and run off to a corner somewhere to eat it. So he’s got to hope that there's always a surplus left over for him.
HM: Right. But he generally has been a tough little bird that's obviously helped.
DB: Oh yeah, yeah. And if you're a red tail hawk weighing say three pounds or whatever, and you're walking around in a nest with three brothers and sisters that are weighing, you know getting up they're like 11 or 12 pounds, you're going to have a lot of swagger, a lot of cockiness. Basically thinking, I’m an eagle just like everybody else.
HM: Do you fear that you know the next time you look, this little fella might have become lunch?
DB: Well there's always the risk, and the way would happen anyway is that they wouldn't just kill it. What would happen is they would start picking at it out of boredom or because they're hungry and they're looking around for something smaller than them to eat. And so all three of them would start picking at it and eventually it would get weak from blood loss and so on and die. That's the way it would happen really.
Other than that we're all, everybody watching the nest to sort of keeping their fingers crossed that he's going to make it to the next. But then he's got the dangerous period of he's outside the nest, the three eaglets are still in the nest because they take a little longer to fledge. Will mom and dad find time and interest to feed that little hawk outside the nest or will he have to go back in the nest from time to time to get food, the remaining scraps. And that's a dangerous time because if he starts trying to grab food from the bald eagles, they potentially could kill him and then they would eat him for sure.
HM: Right. How long till he gets out of the nest?
DB: Probably about another maybe a little more than a week now.
HM: This has become quite the scene for people who really want to watch birds. Where is it and how many people are gathered around?
DB: It’s in the town of Sydney. And it's very easy to get there. You just drive down the main street of Sydney and turn left on 3rd Street and go right to the very end and the nest is there. It's in a suburban area. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I'd be doing an interview talking about a red-tail hawk being raised in a nest with three bald eaglet by a pair of bald eagles in my backyard. It’s an absolutely incredible story.
HM: Has anybody named this little hawk?
DB: Well we've resisted that. A lot of people, I’ve thought about it too. But then you start giving a human dimension to the whole thing and I'll be frank with you. It's not an emotional issue. The eagles are not emotionally attached to the youngsters. The youngsters are mostly not emotionally attached their parents. It's all about hormones, about feeding and fledging their young and procreating the species, that's what it's all about. So let's just say we call it Wilson or something like that and it gets killed, that people will be upset. So we decided not to do that.
HM: Well Professor Bird, it's a great story and I'm rooting for this little fella.
DB: Yeah we all are. Thank you very much for asking me about it.
HM: Thank you for telling us. Appreciate it.
DB: You take care. Thank you, bye.
JD: David Bird has been monitoring the nest in Sydney, B.C. where he retired after studying birds of prey for 40 years at McGill University, to Sydney that is, not to the nest. We reached Mr. Bird on a trip to Montreal.
BOB DYLAN: Specific books that have stuck with me ever since I read that way back in grammar school. I want to tell you about three of them: Moby Dick, All Quiet on the Western Front and, The Odyssey.
JD: In his long-delayed Nobel Lecture, Bob Dylan makes some odd pronouncements. Also, as you heard, some odd pronunciations, including "odd-iss-SEE".
It's interesting to hear what syllables Dylan emphasizes, of course – but it's more interesting to hear what themes he emphasizes. In discussing those three books in particular, he's talking about how they informed his songs. He's also talking about the wrongheadedness of focusing too much on overanalyzing those works – or his own. And toward the end of the lecture, he says this:
BOB DYLAN: So what does it all mean? Myself and a lot of other songwriters have been influenced by these very same themes. And they can mean a lot of different things. If a song moves you, that's all that's important. I don't have to know what a song means. I've written all kinds of things into my songs and I'm not going worry about it. What it all means.
When Melville put all these old testament biblical references, scientific theories, Protestant doctrines and all that knowledge of the sea and sailing ships and whales into one story, I don't think he would have worried about it either. What it all means.
JD: It's a strong point. But it seems like where Moby-Dick was concerned, Dylan was interested in knowing what it all means, but he was not interested in rereading all 135 chapters plus epilogue. And so he crammed. And then he crammed the cramming into his speech. Not long after that lecture was posted as an audio file with ambient piano tinkling in the background, author Ben Greenman noticed something about this moment.
BOB DYLAN: A Quaker pacifist priest who is actually a bloodthirsty businessman tells flask some men who received injuries alleged to God. Others lead to bitterness.
JD: That's a great sentence. The problem is it isn't actually anywhere in Moby Dick. It does appear however, worded slightly differently in a summary of Moby Dick on the website Sparknotes, one of those sites where students can find summaries of the plots, characters, and themes of great literature, and quickly cobble together a working knowledge of a book they do not have the time to read. Slate magazine writer Andrea Pitzer discovered that that was only one of many phrases that Dylan appears to have lifted or paraphrased from Sparknotes for his Nobel lecture. [lb[ As Ms. Pitzer writes quote “Across the 78 sentences in the lecture that Dylan spends describing Moby Dick, even a cursory inspection reveals that more than a dozen of them appear to closely resemble lines from the Sparknotes site.”
It is perhaps not exactly surprising Robert Zimmerman has been gleefully stealing from others since he saw some poems by a guy by the name of Dylan Thomas and decided that that first name would make a better last name.
So is it a prank? Is it some kind of commentary? Or was he just like “I remember there's a whale and Gregory Peck. But I'm rusty on the other details.” And so he went online. Of course we're not supposed to worry about it. What it all means. As Neil Diamond once said “Don't think about it twice, it's OK.”
Part 3: UK fire warnings, senate court delays, Antarctic painting, beluga rescue
U.K. tower: Warnings
JEFF DOUGLAS: For years residents of Grenfell Tower warned their landlord that if safety standards were not improved, a fire in the building would be catastrophic. Those fears of course became reality. Early this morning, a blaze at the 24 story building has left at least 12 people dead. While residents raised alarm bells before today's fire, so did others. Ronnie King is the former U.K. chief fire officer. He is now a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on fire safety and rescue. And since 2013, Mr. King and others have called on the UK government to do a review of the country's fire safety rules for apartment towers like Grenfell. Rather, he says that those calls were never answered. We reached Rodney King in London.
HELEN MANN: Mr. King, what went through your mind this morning as you saw those images of Grenfell Tower engulfed in flames.
RONNIE KING: Well it was a horrific sight. I was called at home in the early hours and I did switch on the television to look at a building light up like a torch, burning and it's a very frightening, horrific situation. Anything at one o'clock in the morning in such a large block of dwellings, they were obviously you would expect it to be fully occupied and that even adds to the problems the issues of people escaping people being rescued. It's is just a frightening situation.
HM: Given you know all your experience over so many decades, in your view, how is it that this fire managed to catch and spread so quickly?
RK: That really is the question that will need to come out in the investigation because fire doesn't normally go through a building like that because you have got protected escape route, you have got compartmentation. And each individual flat in that block should really be secure hold for people not to ask to escape from. They should be safe in there, at least for up to an hour. But of course, as the fire threatens your own flat then obviously there isn't an alternative but to escape.
HM: The residents who survived, and people in the area who have complained about problems with the building, have said that there were no sprinklers, no fire alarms. We've been told there was one stairwell to be used as a fire exit. How could it be a building of this size, 24 stories didn't have more safeguards in place?
RK: Well it's compliant. When those buildings are built, they're built a protected space. Every individual compartment is protected. It was built to build in regulation standards. And of course we have had a similar experience of a fire not quite of that magnitude in Southerton in London. And that, I attended the inquest. Really, I think one of the recommendations was if that had been built today, it would have had automatic fire sprinklers throughout the building. It wasn't built to that standard and therefore you cannot retrospectively install things and fire suppression like that without recourse to major adjustments to the building, major refurbishments.
HM: A coroner ruled actually in 2013 that all high-rise buildings should be retrofitted with sprinklers. Why has that not happened?
RK: There were a lot in the in the narrative of the coroner's inquest which pointed to tower blocks ought to be considered for retrofitting sprinklers. She could not rule that it would be made law. She said that those who were responsible for as a landlord to those premises should actually take account of the recommendations. Only a recommendation, not a requirement.
HM: Do you think that goes far enough? Do you think the government should be intervening and regulating the installation of things like sprinkler systems in these towers?
RK: No it's quite, it's quite known everywhere that people don't die in sprinkler buildings, that fire death in a sprinkler fire building is a very rare occasion. So sprinklers do work. They do put fires out and we have been talking to government. The All-Party group is talking to government, we've been talking to government in 2013, about the possibility of revealing the building regulations and considering such things as automatic fire sprinkler protection in tall buildings. For the last four years the attempts to get the regulations reviewed, that were actually built in 2006, 11 years ago and to get the government to actually change them as being difficult. They always point to having evidence and of course the evidence has been that fires are going down. Fire deaths are going down. What on earth is wrong with the fire regulations which seem to be working. But of course this [unintelligible] there is a significant reason to do it I think now.
HM: But specifically with regard to Grenfell Tower, residents actually have written a scathing post blaming the company that manages the building as well as their local borough saying that all our warnings fell on deaf ears. They had been talking about the potential risk of a serious fire, you know they're looking at someone to answer for this. Who takes responsibility?
RK: The responsibility rests obviously with the landlord. He will look at what regulations are in place. He will look at whether he's carried out an adequate risk assessment, and when they do refurbishments he will look to see that no one has penetrated the existing fire structure of the building. And of course if all those things were were absolutely in place, then this shouldn't have happened like this. It shouldn't have happened. So something has gone terribly wrong here and it's not clear yet what has gone wrong. I think before we look to blame, I think we've really got to examine what really happened and where the weaknesses were.
Fire safety generally isn't high on the agenda of most governments. It's not it's not the highest priority.
HM: Should it be?
RK: It's a burden on business. But if you come from the fire sector like I do, it's the highest priority. But if you come from a business and you want less and less onerous rules and regulations on your business, then fire safety is only an added burden that thinking has got to. That's changed as a result of fires like this.
HM: If I'm one of the many thousands of people living in a high rise in the U.K. tonight, what should I be thinking? What should I be doing?
RK: I don't think that your that your premises is unnecessarily not compliant. But we have done some research and it is estimated that there are 4000 tower blocks which still don't have water [unintelligible] sprinkler protection in the U.K.. I'm sure that all tower blocks, the owners of tower blocks will certainly want to ensure that everything in there is safe and secure. And I think if you lived in one you would be wanting to insist that yours was and that it was compliant to regulations that the flight safety compartmentation in the building was adequate and safe, and that people have a fire drill, they know how to escape in case of a fire. They practice it and they do those checks because you would need to be worried wouldn't you having witnessed this today.
HM: Mr. King, it's a terrible thing to have to talk about. I appreciate you sharing your expertise with us.
RK: Yes, thank you.
HM: Yes. Bye-bye.
JD: Ronnie King is the former U.K. chief fire officer and a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on fire safety and rescue. We reached Mr. King in London.
Senate court delays
Guest: George Baker
JD: Liberal appointed senator George Baker says that it is time the Trudeau government did something to unclog Canada's courts. Senator Baker is the deputy chair of the Senate's Legal Affairs Committee. And this afternoon, that committee tabled its report on what the Supreme Court has described as the quote "culture of complacency" regarding delays in our criminal justice system. The court has responded last year in what is called the Jordan Decision, and that imposes limits on the time prosecutors have to bring a case to trial. And that has led to a series of high profile cases being thrown out of court. Now Senator Baker is warning that if action is not taken and soon the situation next year could be a whole lot worse. We reached Senator George Baker in Ottawa.
HM: Senator Baker, what is it that worries you about what might happen in 2018 if changes aren't made to our criminal justice system?
GB: Well what you will have are tens of thousands of cases just thrown out because you are a transitional provisions that were created by the Supreme Court in order to prevent a large number of cases from being just thrown out of court. They were put in into the law, into their judgment in order for there not to be a mass exodus of cases from the system. And what is especially alarming about this is that unless there are changes made specifically as the sentence suggested here, what you're going to have is you're going to have people who have been convicted as we have seen with the Jordan decision and the accompanying Williamson decision, somebody convicted of a very serious crime, sexual assault against children for example in that particular case, found guilty by a jury trial, sentenced to jail, having the entire thing overturned because it took the trial too long to take place. So that's what we're facing.
HM: Now in the Jordan decision the Supreme Court found that there were serious problems with some of our crown prosecutors. Where do you and your colleagues think the problem lies?
GB: Well the crown prosecutors are overworked in [unintelligible] Canada. So are trial judges. So are defense attorneys. The system is bursting at the seams and what we suggest, a couple of our recommendations deal with the fact that we're preoccupied with in some cases of a multitude of counts facing a court, some of them not very serious, perhaps some of them hybrid summary regulatory in nature, and a couple of them very serious offenses. So a decision should be made by the Crown or the Director of Public Prosecutions in that case to just drop those minor things, to stop signs sawdust.
HM: If a decision though was taken to drop some of these things you describe as minor cases, does that not potentially deny justice to the people who might be victims of those more minor crimes?
GB: Well yes. Yes absolutely. But the reason why this has to be taken is, you know, you have to take into consideration the very serious charges that are being ignored that are being dropped of people who've been convicted and just released or people who have been charged with first degree murder, having the case just thrown out because there's not enough court time. We are facing a crisis in this country as far as criminal prosecutions are concerned. Courts just cannot handle them. It's not the fault of the judges, it's not the fault of the lawyers or the crown prosecutors or defense attorney, it's the fault of the Parliament of Canada. We just did not legislate why it takes a criminal trial a similar criminal trial ten times longer to complete in Canada than it does in Australia, five times longer to do in Canada than than in the United Kingdom for similar cases. And what we determined was that in those nations, what they did was they legislated remedies for long trials. [lb' We left it up to the courts to decide the remedy for violations of the charter. That's not what's happened in most countries. You have the 100 day rule in the US for example. 100 days from the time of charge to trial. Even in Russia it's a six month rule. In Canada, there are no rules.
HM: You also see problems with the judicial appointment process.
GB: Yes look. Under normal circumstances if a job comes vacant, for goodness sake you have somebody, you know that a judge is going to retire at age 75, mandatory. So you must have somebody in place prior to that, somebody who can go through the training as well because sometimes you have people who are only involved with civil litigation being put into a criminal trial setting and also the additional suggestion we make is why wait for applications, why not go head hunting. Why not ask some of those brilliant young lawyers out there, those brilliant lawyers over the years to see if they would offer them a position on the bench rather than just waiting for applications.
So there's no excuse. When somebody has to retire at age 75, somebody else should be there to take their place and that's not happening.
HM: So if all of this is parliament's job and the justice minister job, and it's been recognized by the courts that this is a problem, why hasn't the Trudeau government taken action before now.
GB: Well I don't think it's just the Trudeau government it goes way way back to 1983. We brought in the charter and we didn't bring in timelines in the criminal code. We didn't bring in any of the suggestions that we're making. We just left it up to the courts.
HM: But it is it is the Jordan decision that's at issue now.
GB: Absolutely. Absolutely and this has got to be because you're right. The Jordan decision changes the water on the beans so to speak because now it sets a timeline in which in December, the transitional provisions stop, and in January you're going to have tens of thousands of cases just thrown out because of stays. So there has to be this, you know if they would only follow the recommendations in this report, I think we could we could head off that.
HM: Senator Baker I appreciate your time. Thank you
GB: Well thank you, Helen.
HM: All right. Bye-bye.
JD: George Baker is a Liberal appointed senator. We reached him in Ottawa.
Guest: Lizzie Meek
JD: It's a painting of a small bird. It's a watercolour, it's nice but it would be fairly unremarkable except for where it was discovered. Researchers uncovered the painting in a long abandoned hut in Antarctica, dusted with mold, dusted with penguin poop, and now they have determined that it was painted by Dr. Edward Wilson who was part of Captain Robert Scott's ill-fated expedition. Lizzie Meek is the artifact manager at New Zealand's Antarctic Heritage Trust. We reached her reached her brother in Christchurch.
HM: Ms. Meek, will you describe this painting, 1899 Tree Creeper for us.
LIZZIE MEEK: This is a very delicate little watercolour. It's a painting of a specimen bird which is fairly common in Wilson's time, to be painting specimens which were dead birds. And it's quite neutral colours, just browns and reds, and some very delicate line drawing sitting in underneath the water cooler and perhaps a little bit of gouache used as well.
HM: So tell us about this hut where the painting was discovered?
LM: Right well we found that the bird at Cape Adare. So Cape Adare is a very interesting spot on the Antarctic continent. It's about 800 kilometers away from New Zealand Scott Base which makes it quite remote in terms of getting humans back and forth there. But it's the first set of the Antarctic mainland that you might see if you're heading south from New Zealand and the ship.
And I'd say it's a spot that is extremely windy. Catabatic winds pour down off the South Pole and across the continent and hit that spot particularly hard. It's also home to a very large Adélie penguin colony, which are situated on the beach there at Cape Adare, around about three quarters of a million penguins that live there.
HM: I can imagine that the last thing one would expect to find there would be a painting. How did your team react when they first uncovered it?
LM: Oh huge surprise. So we had brought back from Antarctica around about 1500 hundred artifacts from them from the structures at Cape Adare. We brought them back to New Zealand for the purposes of conservation, and for the most part we're dealing with tools and clothing and equipment and lots and lots of tins of food and all of us. And they're all of a similarly degraded condition given the harsh conditions of Cape Adare, so to open up a stack of papers that we presumed was just a stack of blank papers and find something so fresh and so delicate was an enormous surprise. I think Josephine sums it up by saying she was so surprised she had to close the paper down straight away.
HM: Can you take us through what she did to to reveal it?
LM: Well she was she was working in the lab and she was cleaning the stack which had a lot of mold and penguin feathers and penguin guano on the outside of it and she was carefully going through and separating it actually and just checking the conditions. And as she was doing that, she was discussing with our team leader how they were going to catalogue the stack, how they were going to number all the items in there. And Sue said to her "Are you sure that there's nothing in there?" And Josephine said "No it's just completely empty. It's just a stack of papers, and she lifted up a page as an example and opened it to the very page where the watercolour was, and Sue's face changed and Josephine looked down and got a fright and dropped the top page down and stepped away and said "Oh my God."
HM: You mentioned the name Wilson. Who is Wilson? How did he come to he come to paint this do you think?
LM: Edward Adrien Wilson was a really key member of Scott's team. He was the lead medical doctor on the team. He was also a naturalist, a scientist himself. And he had many many years of observing and studying wildlife, which was a particular passion of his. He was he was a British man from Cheltenham. And he'd been drawing for years and years and years and he had he'd also suffered from illness which had led him to convalesce in Europe in Switzerland, which was at the time that this painting was made. So it was pretty natural for him to be taking walks in the countryside, observing the wildlife, enjoying it.
And it was during that sort of stage of of his life convalescing from tuberculosis that he had decided that touring dead specimens wasn't really what he wanted to do. He wanted to draw live birds and he started to pursue that is an interest which is one of the things that drew him to Scott's attention. He was interested in having somebody who was able to draw live penguins on the expedition.
HM: Why do you think he took this particular painting of this particular bird with him all the way to Antarctica?
LM: That is the mystery and we're not really too sure. It's possible it was deliberate, but it's equally possible given its placement in the middle of a stack of portfolio papers which look like a stack of art supplies, which they would have taken lots of to to Antarctica for reasons of you know observing enjoying the wildlife and the scenery, it could well have been accidental.
HM: Can you remind us what happened to Dr. Wilson and the rest of the Scott expedition?
LM: Sure. Edward Wilson with one of the five people in the final push for the South Pole was along with Scott, Oates, Bowers and Evans. And they made it to the South Pole basically by Amundsen much to their disappointment I think. And then on the return journey home, they progressively got weaker and weaker and unfortunately all five of those people died. Bowers, Scott and Wilson died together in the tent just a few miles from the depot that had the fuel and food that needed to continue.
HM: What would you like to see happen to the painting now?
LM: Well, under the terms of our government permit, all of the objects from Cape Adare head back to the hut. So we'll be sending the painting back to Antarctica which is in a way ideal storage conditions for it in the cold.
HM: Does it bother you how few people will see it in the future?
LM: No and I don't think that that I don't think that that statement is really true because I mean real in real life for sure there are many things in the building that will have a limited audience, but in the wider sense of understand or viewing optics, the documentary record of these objects is quite widely spread and reaches a large audience. And so, it's just the nature of these sites to keep them, to keep their integrity. You need to take the items that belonged to them rather than continually whittling away and whittling away because somebody decides something is special and should be moved somewhere else.
HM: All right. Well it's a pretty little bird. Thank you so much for telling us about it.
LM: My pleasure.
HM: All right good bye.
LM: Bye now.
JD: Now we reached Lizzie Meek in Christchurch, New Zealand. And if you would like to see Dr Edward Wilson's pretty little bird it's on our website cbc.ca/aih.
Guest: Tonya Wimmer
JD: It's kind of a big fish in a small pond story except the fish is actually a whale and the pond is actually a river that Nepisiguit river in Bathurst, New Brunswick. A beluga whale has managed to swim up the river from the St. Lawrence and it cannot seem to find its way out. Tomorrow, marine experts will be doing some heavy lifting to move it back.
Tonya Wimmer is the director of the Marine Animal Response Society and we reached her in Bathurst.
HM: Ms. Wimmer, how do you move a whale?
TONYA WIMMER: With great care for both the animal and the people involved, I think is probably the first and foremost thing. Moving the animal is actually somewhat of the easier thing in the sense that once you have control of the animal in a safe and secure location, it really is just a matter of putting it on an appropriate stretcher and lifting it up and being able to pick it up and move it away.
HM: But first you have to capture it.
TW: Exactly. And so the capture part is sort of the more complicated one in the sense that you are dealing with a wild animal. They can be unpredictable. And basically we need to be as flexible as possible with having many tools in the toolbox.
HM: How big is this whale?
TW: The animal we believe is somewhere around seven feet or so and probably just weighs under about 200 kilos. So it's not a very large animal which is a good thing in terms of being able to control it once you have a hold of it.
HM: So what is the plan at this point for for capturing it?
TW: Yeah. So we actually have assembled quite a team of pretty much most of the experts in Canada in terms of the species itself capturing the animals in a variety of means, transporting them which is quite important to be very well executed. And then the veterinarians who have experience being able to monitor animals. So all of these people have come together and over the last week, sort of while we've been monitoring the animal, we've also been very much going through the different scenarios of what we could do, how we could do it. And coming up with as many different scenarios of we will try this and then if that doesn't work then we try this. And then we try that. So it really for us has been about coordinating and about having all the right equipment and everything, which has been one of the reasons why it's taking a little bit of time. People have asked us right away about you know why didn't you do this right away. And one, the animal still seemed to be fine. So that was good. And two, it's a very complicated thing to coordinate and to make sure we do it right.
HM: And there's no way this this whale is going to leave of its own volition.
TW: No, I mean that was also part of the reason for, I mean because we do get these animals that wander into strange places I mean throughout the maritimes or eastern Canada. And a lot of what we do for the first few days is sort of to watch it and see if it does look like it might just be there for a temporary time and then will turn around and find its own way out. And sometimes that does happen. But in the case of this animal, it is really doesn't seem inclined to turn around and leave.
HM: Do you know why it went up the river in the first place?
TW: No not specifically I mean in cases like this it's a lot of the time, they follow food. So when fish happen to be migrating by and migrating up a river, the animals see it and sort of follow and then sometimes get confused and don't know where they are. Sometimes it's a navigational error right from the get go in the sense that they just happened to wander into a place they don't recognize and then can't find their way out.
HM: Once you've managed to secure that whale, where do you plan to take it?
TW: The idea is actually because this happened to be a very, an animal that is actually really close to where they normally summer in the St. Lawrence estuary, the idea for this animal is to transport it back over to the Quebec side of the Gaspésie Peninsula and release it over in the St. Lawrence estuary.
HM: Do you think it will be able to find its way to its own pod?
TW: The idea on the relief side is actually that they will hold on to the animal, they're actually also going to tag the animals so they can track it afterwards, and then their hope is to be able to go out by boat and release it in the proximity of other belugas and hope that that sort of at least allows it to have other belugas to at least be in the vicinity of maybe being know attracted to them and want to go to them.
HM: I would imagine that you know a big goal here is not to traumatize this creature and to make this be as efficient as possible. Do you have any sense of the window that you've got to have this happen?
TW: Well I mean the interesting thing is when we've dealt with other species, because we've had live strandings session in the maritime provinces quite often, the animals themselves, I mean they're mammals they can, they breathe the air, so they can be out of the water for periods of time. The biggest thing for these animals and especially in the summer are that they are well insulated animals because they usually live in a cold environment. So one of the biggest concerns is when they're out of water they actually can overheat because they don't have, you know they don't sweat they don't pant. So really the, what we do is we try to give that animal the longest period of time possible that it can be out of the water by keeping it cool, by keeping it calm. And that's why it's been imperative to have the vet that will be on site who are used to dealing with marine mammals.
HM: And you plan to transport it by plane by road by plane.
TW: Yeah it's actually that's, the concern of how long it could be out of the water and trying to minimize the stress to the animal, was one of the reasons that we've sort of narrowed in on the idea of transporting the animal by plane because it's a very short flight for the animal to be able to go over to where the release point is. So you know, that will minimize the amount of time it's actually out of the water, versus if it had to do a three or four hour transport in a vehicle the entire way by land. So the idea right now is to do it by plane. As long as there's no issues with, you know how to get the animal in there or anything else, that is the plan at the moment.
HM: Is this an expensive process?
TW: Oh my goodness. I mean in terms of, yes. I mean if these are not very cheap things in a sense to do because there are a lot of people involved, there's a lot of equipment. There's a lot of things that we have to be able to have like veterinarians and things like that. But for all of us, I mean that's you know it's an endangered species under the Canadian law and very much we want to be able to help these animals so we do what we can as much as we can.
HM: I wish you the very best of luck we'll be keeping our eye on on what happens ourselves and hope it goes well.
TW: Oh we all do as well, thank you so much.
HM: All right Ms. Wimmer, bye-bye.
TW: Bye now. Have a good day.
HM: You too.
JD: Tonya Wimmer is the director of the marine animal response society. We reached her in Bathurst, New Brunswick
CBC would like to acknowledge the support of the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund.