Today's letters: One stupid piece of plastic caused a whole lot of fuss

By Kath Fischer, Ottawa Citizen Letter to the Editor, August 28, 2020

All because of one piece of plastic

A pleasant walk along the Rideau Canal quickly turned depressing last week. Sitting atop a large rock in the small pond next to the Canal Ritz was a majestic Great Blue Heron. Typically shy, such close proximity struck me as unusual behaviour. Yet most of the passing cyclists and pedestrians eager to grab a photo didn’t see the long piece of clear plastic the heron was struggling to disengage from its mouth.

A call for help went out to Safe Wings Ottawa. But after a great deal of preparation, their valiant attempt to capture the distressed bird was unsuccessful. He still had enough strength to fly out of reach. In all, the attempted rescue took hours of devoted volunteer and passersby time. All for one stupid piece of plastic — a totally preventable scourge that will undoubtedly kill this stately bird, and so many others like him.

Birds starve to death from ingesting plastic, a long painful ordeal. The experience was upsetting. So, just days later, as I was approaching Dow’s Lake to begin another walk, I was disheartened when the very first thing I noticed in the water was a large plastic bag. And then another. And another. With a stick, in fewer than two minutes, I managed to pull out several plastic bags of varying sizes (some containing COVID masks), two plastic bowls, one plastic water bottle, and so on. I hadn’t even walked two meters. Shame on all of us. Surely we can do better.

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