2000 Owl AwardFred Schutz
Fred became a member of the Alberta Natural History Society in 1969 and it didn’t take long for the members to recognize his expertise.
Fred became a member of the Alberta Natural History Society in 1969 and it didn’t take long for the members to recognize his expertise. He was asked to speak at the group’s March meeting that year, the topic being, ‘The Snowshoe Hare or Bush Rabbit.” That presentation was the first of many that Fred would do over the years.
Fred became a director in 1972, a time when serious work was being done to revitalize the organization. One issue at the time related to the establishment of Natural Areas in Alberta. Fred identified one potential region near Bluffton, then did the necessary research and correspondence to ensure its designation.
Other issues on which Fred had strong and informed opinions included zoning and policy for the Eastern Slopes of the Rockies – especially poisoning of wolves, Gaetz Lakes protection, and rumours of a dam on the Red Deer River to enable petrochemical development in the area. He was never afraid to express his opinions through letters to appropriate government departments or briefs at public hearings, and encouraged others to do likewise.
Fred became Vice-President in 1974 and President in 1976. This was the year the Society changed its name to avoid confusion with the Federation of Alberta Naturalists. Thus was born the Red Deer River Naturalists.
Fred is well known for his broad and intimate knowledge of natural history, mostly gained through experience and careful observations. He is also a fabulous storyteller, with many fans acquired through the three thousand or so columns he wrote under the heading of Tales of the Blindman. His interest, congeniality and willingness to contribute time also led to his participation on boards of other organizations, including the Federation of Alberta Naturalists, Ellis Bird Farm, and the Rimbey Historical Society.