“Not too many Nova Scotians have seen what a forest looks like after it’s been sprayed with the herbicide glyphosate. We hear from a man who was shocked by what he saw the first time he drove through a sprayed area.”
CBC: As we have heard in the news, people who oppose herbicide spraying Nova Scotia forests protested yesterday in Kings Co Travis McLeod shares some of those concerns. he is the sitting past President of the NS Federation of Anglers and Hunters. But today he is not speaking on behalf of that group, instead he is joining us as a concerned outdoorsman.
…Travis…This summer you visited an area in Upper Musquodoboit that was sprayed with herbicide last fall and you took a walk through recently. Describe to me what that forest looks like today.
TM: At the time, anyway, it was earlier in the summer and it was pretty much dead… sort of like a wasted zone between two vibrant green areas. It was without songbirds, without any small mammals and at the time certainly I didn’t see any big mammals and you can see quite a ways through these areas after they are sprayed.
CBC: What kind of vegetation and wildlife would you normally expect to see there?
TM: Well normally you would see all of the hardwood trees coming into spring summer, budding, and nice broad leaves…as well as a lot of raspberry and blackberry canes growing up and getting ready to flower and berry as well as any number of grasses and small shrubbery.
The only thing that really ended up being green in the area was the softwood trees that are obviously that’s the reason for spraying to give them a head start over the hardwoods.
CBC: So the spraying is pretty well to get rid of everything that might be in the way of softwood growth… you saw moose tracks near the sprayed area. How do you think a moose might fare in that area?
TM: Our Mainland Moose are not faring very well as it is, but certainly I would think that the moose that was in the area was there because of the new vegetation that would have been growing from the cut maybe 5,6, 8 years ago. That would have been a great food source but once you killed it all, I don’t think that moose hung around too long…’couldn’t have been a good thing for the moose.
CBC:.. What is the effect of glyphosate spraying on those animals. Do they leave before it happens or are they exposed to the chemical?
TM: Well in my experience they have no ability to read the signs saying that they are going to spray the area…so they don’t get any type of eviction notice. But once you take away their shelter and their food, some of the larger, big game animals might be able to move on, but any of the smaller game animals, hares, rodents, reptiles.. they have very small circles of safety and if asked to leave that small area to find other spots… this just doesn’t happen very much with the smaller animals. It may happen to some extent with some of the larger animals but even then you are asking them at a very hard time of year to pick up before winter and find new digs. None of us would enjoy being evicted from our homes under those circumstances.
CBC: So what happens, do they just die off?
TM: I can’t say for sure, many of them would… some may end up surviving I couldn’t say what that number is. But in my experience as a hunter for many years, I don’t go back to those areas looking to do any hare hunting with my bow for a long time because it takes a long time for the rabbits to come back to the area.
CBC: You have seen signs back there posted by the companies doing the spraying, they are cautioning people not to eat berries in the area after they have sprayed. What do you think of those signs.
TM: I am trying to understand how out of one side of their mouth they tell us it is perfectly safe but then give us warnings not to eat the berries in the area. It’s confusing as someone who is only a layman and trying to understand this stuff…very confusing messages are being put out.
CBC: And if there are animals lingering around there, what are the effects of eating those berries on them?
TM: If we are not supposed to eat them I would imagine it’s unsafe for the animals as well.
CBC: Why do you think it is so important to talk about this publicly?
TM: The science continues to dribble in as far as some of the concerns that we haven’t had answered bout the spraying of these herbicides on our forests and what may be happening to the wildlife as well as ourselves… we keep doing studies. We have all heard about the Lahey Report, but our government is so very slow to react to these things. Without the conversation, I don’t think we will see change. Change is uncomfortable but you have to make people more uncomfortable about not changing before you see the change actually take place.
CBC: Two years ago an independent review of forestry recommended glyphosate on some forestry crown land. Do you oppose it outright or do you think in some cases it’s OK?
TM: Admittedly I don’t know enough and I don’t feel like anyone knows enough about glyphosate to be spraying it as much as we are, especially in wooded areas. Farming perhaps has some uses, but to spray it in our forests in NS especially on Crown lands or anywhere near homes… we need for more information.
CBC…Thanks…we reached out to the department of Lands and Forestry for a response and we hope to bring that to you at a later date.