In 1968, the whooping crane (Grus americana), a species clawing its way back from the brink of extinction, became the official emblem of the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation. In some ways, the whooping crane symbolizes society’s acknowledgement of our responsibility as stewards of our natural resources, an idea still valued by the SWF.
The original magazine of the SWF was The Whooper. Volume 1, Number 1 was published in Saskatoon, SK in June 1968. The following excerpt from that issue elaborates on why the whooper was chosen as the emblem for the SWF.
The choice to be made for a name to launch a new publication concerning wildlife will run the gamut from protector to hunter, from animal to fish to fowl. This search stopped at fowl. But not in terms of the outdoorsman’s usual consideration of birds as game. The Whooping Crane is no longer just a bird fighting for existence. It has become a symbol. A symbol of man trying to re-pay the debt of his forefathers. Man, whose nature has finally rebelled with the shame of past deeds.
It’s not hard to find people who would scrap the Whooping Crane program as being too costly when money is so badly needed for other conservation projects. But the argument in favour of continuing is not financial, it’s moral. Do we pay our bills and hold our heads high, or do we close our eyes and go on to the grizzly bear, the sage hen and the Greater Canada goose.
The answer of course is no. The purpose and the determination must spread into all areas. Habitat, pollution, wetlands, must all be brought to the attention of the general public and the sportsman, the politician and the farmer, and especially to the young. The man that doesn’t hunt or fish must realize that he too has a part to play in assisting, even if it is no more than a membership in a conservation group. The hunter and fisherman must finally admit that the sooner he is prepared to pay a fair price for his participation in his favorite pass-time, the sooner he will have some guarantee that water, habitat, access and game will be there when he wants them. The politician must learn that mile upon mile of top soil stripped of all natural vegetation, is not what God intended. Also, the farmer, many of them now numbered among our best sportsmen, must agree that multiple land use is good land use. And the young, our greatest natural resource, must be taught to love the outdoors, to cherish the smell of damp leaves in a poplar bluff, the sounds of a drumming grouse or the evening bullfrog and to thrill to the majesty of a bull elk in his own domain.
With this publication, the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation once more accepts its responsibility in all of these areas. First to learn, then to inform and educate, and finally to bring whatever pressure to bear that it can in seeing that other of His creatures receive the consideration that is due them. And so, THE WHOOPER will be our symbol, a reminder of what can happen when concern goes out the window, and what can be restored with determination and dedication. We hope that it will help to bring about a further realization that we are not just local autonomous clubs with our special local projects that require our whole attention. We must begin to think more on a Provincial level and grow to fill the need that is with us now.