It seems that a workshop with the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA) goes a long way in changing attitudes towards species at risk.
An online survey of 250 farmers who had taken a soil and crop workshop found that 57 per cent of them said they would feel “pleased,” “proud,” or “lucky,” to find a species at risk on their property.
Contrast that to the overwhelming amount of anecdotal evidence among farmers who havent taken a course. Among that group, who hasnt heard the cry of “shoot, shovel, and shut up?”
OSCIA communications specialist Katie Burt said the association is surprised by the survey results but it shows their educational programs seem to be working.
Another survey question began, “If I found a species at risk on my property I would . . .” and only 3 per cent replied: “shoot, shovel, and shut up.”
Here are other responses:
“Want to know more about the species:” 26 %
“Look into ways to protect and/or create more habitat:” 22 %
“Be worried about the implications of having it on my property:” 21 %
“Carry on as usual:” 14 %
One big change in attitude comes down to money. OSCIA executive director Andrew Graham said that farmers realize there are financial incentives to entice them to introduce best management practices. At the same time, government agencies have changed their approach. While regulations are still in the toolbox, “it is the stewardship card they are playing first.”
At the high end, farmers can access 80 per cent of project funding (no more than $30,000) to improve a stream crossing to allow livestock to cross and species at risk to live. There are 17 projects or best management practices for which farmers can get funding. The only catch is that farmers have to first sign up for an OSCIA workshop. New fencing and tree planting are among the most popular projects.