Wildlife Harassment in the BWCA

     I’m not sure what it is but when I see a video of a person doing a cannonball on top of a manatee it really bothers me. It strikes a different nerve than when I see someone being cruel to another person.  Maybe it’s because animals seem so defenseless that it bothers me but whatever the reason I would like people to leave wildlife alone.  

     There are different reports of wildlife harassment everywhere but most recently a video surfaced of a person in Florida jumping from a dock on top of a momma and baby manatee swimming in the water. This person could face fines of up to $100,000 but I doubt it will amount to that much. A woman arrested last year for riding on top of one was only fined $500, about the going rate for a long swim with a dolphin session you would purchase. If the fines are a slap on the hand then people will continue to harass wildlife.

     The manatee is a protected animal and while we don’t have manatees up here we do have other wildlife.  A restaurant owner recently told me about a woman who saw a calf moose on the Gunflint Trail and she got out of her car to go and pet it. The momma moose was on the other side of the road watching.  Luckily the momma was tolerant and didn’t go after the woman and when this was explained to the woman she had no idea she was doing anything wrong. What’s that saying? "Ignorance is bliss."

     Maybe people really don’t have a clue about how to treat wildlife. There are reports of people putting their children on top of buffalo in South Dakota and kicking seals in California. It seems like common sense to me but maybe it really isn’t.

     I hope you will come visit the Gunflint Trail and I always want people to see moose on their trip. But please do the animals and us a favor and don’t harass them.  Chasing moose with your canoe, throwing rocks at loons and trying to get really close to wildlife can harm them and you.  And if you perform an act of idiocy and film it be sure to keep it off of Facebook or be prepared to pay a fine, no matter how small it may be.