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April 30, 1999
(Forest Resources and Agrifoods)

Grand Codroy Estuary to be site for release of rehabilitated birds

Kevin Aylward, Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods, is pleased to announce that a Great Blue Heron and two Cattle Egrets, that have been under the care of the staff of the Salmonier Nature Park, are now strong and healthy enough to be released back into the wild.

The birds will be released at 1 p.m. on Friday at the Grand Codroy Estuary, located on the southwest coast of the province. The Grand Codroy Estuary has been designated a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention and is frequented by large numbers and variety of migratory birds. Great Blue Herons, and occasionally egrets, are encountered there.

"I am very pleased to hear the birds have recovered," stated Minister Aylward. "Our department is committed to the preservation of wildlife and its habitat in the province. The Grand Codroy Estuary is a fine example of what can be achieved with the community partnering with government."

The Cattle Egrets were brought to the Salmonier Nature Park for rehabilitation from the Burin Peninsula in November of 1998. At the time, they were both moderately emaciated and unable to fly.

The Great Blue Heron was brought to the Salmonier Nature Park after it had landed on the oil rig, Glomar-Grand Banks during the severe snowstorm of April 6. The oil rig is situated approximately 360 kilometres offshore on the Grand Banks. This Blue Heron was airlifted to St. John's via a Cougar helicopter and then immediately transported to the park.

The bird was assessed for injuries and other disabilities. It was in good condition, with only minor emaciation resulting from its brief fast and extended flight. The bird was held at the nature park to feed for a period prior to release back to the wild.

Great Blue Herons, although occasionally found on the island of Newfoundland, are at the edge of their usual range here. It can be assumed that this bird was migrating northward from its wintering range in South and Central America and southern areas of North America and was blown out to sea by the intense storm. Over the years, it has been adequately demonstrated that offshore rigs provide crucial resting places for birds migrating both in spring and fall over the open ocean. It is quite likely that this bird would have succumbed to the elements and drowned at sea, had the Glomar-Grand Banks not been in its current position.

A poster will also be presented, at the release of the birds, promoting wetland conservation in the Grand Codroy Estuary to the Codroy Valley Area Development Association, on behalf of the partners of the Eastern Habitat Joint Venture (EHJV). The poster was designed and produced by the Canadian Wildlife Service to highlight communities that are involved in the wetland conservation stewardship program. Wetland conservation in the Grand Codroy and in many other communities throughout the province is linked through the EHJV to a major international wetland conservation initiative, the North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP).

Through partnerships, similar to what we see in the Grand Codroy, in Canada, the United States and Mexico, resources have been invested to conserve over two million hectares of wetland ecosystem, thus helping to conserve North America's rich biological diversity.

The minister encourages the media and members of the general public to attend the release of these way-ward birds.

Media contact: Cynthia Layden-Barron, Director of Communications, (709) 729-6183; cell: (709) 685-6612.

1999 04 30 9:50 a.m.

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