Moving livestock is a crucial part of agriculture, whether from a barn to a truck or between pastures. A certain amount of skill is involved to make sure that the animals get to where they need to be safely and economically.
This week, The Western Producer presents for your reading pleasure on page 46 a series of photos taken by freelance photographer Mike Sturk of a recent cattle drive in the foothills of western Alberta.
They are spectacular photos and show just how challenging it can be to keep livestock moving in the right direction.
But if you consider that to be a challenge, just think for a moment about what is going on in central British Columbia this summer.
In December 2018, 75,000 cubic metres of rock fell into the Fraser River in a remote part of the province, which wasn’t noticed until the following June.
This turned out to be a catastrophe for the province’s salmon population, many of which swim upriver every year to spawn in the far reaches of the Fraser but now can’t because of the landslide and the massive waterfall that it created.
It’s estimated that only 275,000 salmon made the trip last year, drastically lower than the nearly five million that had been expected.
This is where the salmon movers enter the picture.
Unwilling to let this disaster happen unchallenged, wildlife officials have been taking extraordinary steps to keep the salmon moving.
Besides building a fish ladder, which in and of itself isn’t an unusual piece of technology, they have also been catching fish by the tank full and moving them by truck and even helicopter around the Big Bar landslide.
However, the initiative that has really captured the public’s imagination is what has been called the fish cannon.
In reality it’s a 160 metre pneumatic tube called the Whooshh Passage Portal, which is designed to move fish around the natural barrier more efficiently than loading them onto a truck.
The idea is that the salmon will use the fish ladder to get to the Whooshh, where they will then be rushed to their destination.
So the next time you’re grumbling about herding unco-operative cattle down the road or chasing pigs around the barn, just think how much worse it could be — standing up to your waist in icy mountain river water stuffing salmon into a fish cannon.