This article was originally published in the Early Summer 2017 issue of Cottage Life magazine.
Let’s be straight up: some of our iconic Canadian wildlife is tough to tolerate. Canada geese? They’re messy. They’re loud and confrontational. They’re like an obnoxious uncle—or Adam Sandler in the first half of all his movies. Ain’t nobody putting a Canada goose on the one-dollar coin! But they’re not the only Canadian icon that we love to hate on.
Bad rap: Rabies, distemper, leptospirosis, salmonella, human flu, avian flu…if there is an illness or an infection, raccoons can carry it and spread it, Typhoid Mary–style.
Vindicated: For animals so riddled with disease, raccoons are strong puzzle solvers. They could probably do a Rubik’s cube if it gave them access to burger scraps. They have the manual dexterity.
Bad rap: They bite. And it’s terrible. Then, according to Alanis Morissette, they get into your Chardonnay and make things ironic.
Vindicated: Blackfly larvae are intolerant of water pollution. So while blackflies in your wine is disgusting, a healthy population in your lake may in fact be a good sign.
Bad rap: Thanks for the rampant tree damage, guys! And not just in Canada. In 1946, the Argentine government released North American beavers into southern Patagonia, hoping to start a fur industry. Flash forward to the present; the beavers are responsible for the destruction of great swaths of forests. Rookie mistake, Argentina.
Vindicated: All the gnawing and dam-making creates habitat for others—which is why here, beavers are a “keystone” species and vital to our ecosystem. They’re Canadian, so they’re probably sorry for cutting down your favourite tree.
Bad rap: Road collisions. Especially in Newfoundland and Labrador, where the moose vs. vehicle crisis has been at times bad enough to be labelled in journal articles “a major problem” for the health-care system. Moose are like obesity. Or sitting.
Vindicated: The genus has lived on earth possibly since the Pliocene epoch, which was more than two mil- lion years ago and way before anyone was driving a car. Also, male moose cart around those 40 lb fascinators for eight months of the year, like guests at some really long British wedding. Respect.