Back in the late 50's and early 60's the words naturalist or enviromentalist were rarely heard in Newfoundland. There were however, many people involved in the protection of wildlife and the forests. They quietly and patiently patrolled the wilderness areas of Newfoundland, receiving little or no appreciation for the important job they were performing.
These men worked in a time before the global consciousness towards the protection of the environment and wildlife had been awakened.
One of these pioneers was Peter St. Croix. Peter began his career as a Wildlife Officer in 1959. To say that the protection of wildlife was a job to him, would be an injustice! Anyone who met Peter would notice immediately how animated he became when talking about conservation. He lived for his work which became a passion for him very early in his career. Peter grew up in the Codroy Valley, surrounded by the beauty of nature and all its creatures. This left him with a deep and abiding love and appreciation for nature and a need to preserve it for future generations to enjoy.
As with anyone who has such a passion, he never considered what he did as "working", just something that needed to be done. Being ahead of your time in ideas such as this, often causes you to be held in suspicion by some, because they have no understanding of the great feeling of satisfaction people of passion receive, just from a job well done.
A career in the field of wildlife protection and the enforcement of laws does not ususally lead to first place, in a popularity contest, Peter didn't care, that's not what his life was about.
He spent 30 years guarding the forests and animals of the West Coast. In 1986 Peter received the acknowlegement and appreciation he richly deserved, when he was awarded the prestigious "Shikar-Safari Club Award" as International Wildlife Officer of the year.
After his retirement from active duty Peter continued to be involved with environmental issues. He lived about 1 kilometer from the shoreline of Stephenville Crossing and was often seen, and of course recognized, by his shock of red hair, at the Gut area with his binoculars and bird book in hand, out for a day of bird watching. On one such trek he discovered that the Piping Plover, which is on the endangered list, had a small nesting colony on the beach. He actively campaigned to have an area set aside for their protection. He spent many years lobbying the government to get the area declared as a Bird Santuary. In 1995 the area was declared a no hunting zone and Peter's dream of a protected area for these tiny birds came true.
I am sure that if Peter were still with us, he would be overjoyed to see the work that has been completed in the Praire Pond area and in the other wetlands conservatory areas around the town. This link will take you to an article about the area that Peter spent many happy hours in before and after his retirement.Article written for the Virtual Birder