Trump administration to ease rules for hunting bears and their cubs in Alaska

2:02 a.m.

The National Park Service is rolling back Obama-era regulations that banned hunters in Alaska’s national preserves from using food to lure black and brown bears out of their dens.

The new rules will also let hunters use artificial light to attract black bears and their cubs, shoot caribou from motorboats, and hunt wolves and coyotes during the denning season, the Anchorage Daily News reports. The Obama administration enacted the regulations in order to prevent the destabilization of Alaska’s ecosystems.

This change is “amazingly cruel,” Jesse Prentice-Dunn, policy director for the Center for Western Priorities, told The Guardian, and is “just the latest in a string of efforts to reduce protections for America’s wildlife at the behest of oil companies and trophy hunters.”

Several Native American tribes criticized the original rule, opposing it due to rural Alaskans needing wild food sources. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) cheered the reversal, saying it was necessary “not only as a matter of principle, but as a matter of states’ rights.” Catherine Garcia

Grizzly bear protecting her cub is shot after biting hiker, Montana officials say

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Duration 7:48
How to handle bear encounters

Heading out on a hike? An Idaho Fish and Game officials provides tips for identifying black and grizzly bears and what to do when you encounter each. 

A grizzly bear trying to protect her cub attacked a hiker Wednesday, Montana wildlife officials say.

A man came face-to-face with a female grizzly bear and her cub while on a hike, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. The grizzly bear attacked and bit the hiker’s thigh.

The hiker then shot and injured the bear with a pistol, officials say. The hiker was able to walk back to his house near Dupuyer and go to a hospital.

“The bear’s behavior indicated it attacked to protect her cub from a perceived threat posed by the hiker,” wildlife officials say.

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Officials searched for the bear into the night and began again the next morning with a helicopter and ground crews. Officials euthanized the bear once it was found, according to Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

The cub was not with the bear when it was found, according to the Great Falls Tribune. Greg Lemon, a spokesperson for Fish, Wildlife and Parks, told the news outlet that he did not know what the cub’s chances for survival were.

“Though it is still early in the spring, people recreating outdoors in Montana need to be prepared to encounter grizzly bears as they emerge from winter hibernation,” officials said. “This time of year, bears are hungry and looking for food, and often sows have cubs close at hand. Also, with bears expanding their population and habitat, they can often be found in prairie settings, well away from the mountains.”


A grizzly bear (not the one pictured) attacked a Montana hiker Wednesday, officials say. AP

Due to COVID-19, spring bear hunting isn’t happening for non-residents

Due to COVID-19, spring bear hunting isn’t happening for non-residents

brown bear on shoreline in Katmai area
A brown bear in the Katmai area of the Alaska Peninsula, Nov. 18, 2010. (Creative Commons photo by Mandy Lindeberg/NOAA)

After announcing there would be no spring bear hunting in the state, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has partially changed its mind. All non-resident brown and black bear hunts will remain closed through May 31. Spring bear hunting for Alaska residents remains open during that time.

“You know this was all about people moving around the state, specifically about hunters coming up from the lower 48, but also about people going from different communities in Alaska,” said Ryan Scott, assistant director of ADFG’s division of wildlife conservation.

“Right now we don’t have any concerns about bear populations. It remains to be seen how many people will take advantage of it, but it’s really good that resident hunters can get out there and take advantage of the bear opportunities.”

A Thursday letter from Fish and Game commissioner Doug Vincent-Lang reminds resident hunters to abide by health mandates, including social distancing and intrastate travel. That in-state travel between communities is prohibited except for supporting critical infrastructure or for critical personal needs.

Originally the Department closed non-resident and resident bear hunts until the end of May, via emergency order, in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Alaska. Even though Commissioner Vincent-Lang rescinded a portion of this closure, he emphasizes that general hunting has not been identified as a critical personal need, as defined by Governor Mike Dunleavy’s health mandates.

Scott said the department plans to work with the state’s Board of Game to accommodate hunters who’ve lost the opportunity.

“We recognize that there are lots of non-resident hunters planning to come to Alaska right now both for black bear hunts and brown bear hunts,” Scott said.

“We’re going to be looking for opportunities to move those permits around if we can to give those hunters the chance to come and do it again. We don’t know what it’s going to look like yet and it’s going to take some time to sort all that out. It’s important to recognize that we’ve issued drawing permits for next year already. So it’s going to take some finessing to distribute hunters across the landscape.”

Companies that accommodate out-of-state hunters can charge anywhere from a couple thousand dollars for a week-long self-guided black bear hunt to tens of thousands of dollars for a fully guided hunt from a wilderness lodge or tour boat. Brown bear hunts for non-residents are only allowed with a licensed guide or close relative who is a resident.

Eli Lucas owns Alaska Coastal Hunting, a guiding business based in Petersburg. He said the spring bear season is about half of his income for the year, but he understands the closure had to happen.

“We’ve offered refunds or switching dates but we really don’t know where to put people,” Lucas said. “We actually need more season if we’re going to put somebody to a full calendar because we don’t have room for the next years. And so, the other guides are in the same position. It’s a pretty complicated issue really.”

Outfitters, lodges, boat rentals and float plane companies will also lose business with the closure.

Fish and Game said they will announce further details in the coming days on how these spring bear hunts should be conducted by residents while complying with the Governor’s COVID-19 mandates.

Meanwhile, no closures are anticipated for other spring hunting seasons. And sport fishing remains open in Alaska with no current plans for closure.

Washington State has a temporary closure for its sport fishing along with the Columbia River in Oregon.

People obey North Carolina city’s ‘stay home’ order, black bear ignores it


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This bear took advantage of an empty downtown Asheville on Thursday, using the opportunity to explore. (Photo: WLOS staff)

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WLOS) – It was a quiet afternoon in downtown Asheville on Thursday. The streets were mostly empty with very few people out and about.

One visitor took advantage of an empty downtown and used it as an opportunity to explore. A black bear wandered the streets as a few remaining workers watched.

“Wow, a bear in downtown Asheville. I never thought I’d see the day, ” said Tamara Hardy, who is classified as an essential worker.

A block away, two courthouse workers were eating lunch with a safe six-foot distance between them.

“Yes, we are trying to do our best to social distance,” Jenna Walley said.

Both said they think people are taking orders to stay at home seriously.

“There’s hardly anyone on the road, at least when I am driving in and out,” Tim Henderson said. “That makes the commute outstanding.”

Both agree it would be nice to see a bustling downtown area again, but that can only happen one way.

“Maintain these social distancing guidelines. Everyone should do that so eventually we can come back out,” Henderson said.

“Please stay home. It’s important for the health of the community and other people that are at risk and certainly the hospitals,” Walley said.

That message was echoed by county leaders.

“If you don’t have an urgent or pressing need to be out, you need to be at home,” BunCombe County’s Eric Barnes said during a Thursday afternoon update.

County officials believe that, generally, people are following the guidelines for social distancing.

“I would say that most people are following this guidance,” said Jennifer Mullendore, of Buncombe County Health and Human Services. “I see couples out for walks. I see families walking their dogs. I don’t see a lot of people congregating.”

The city closed all parks last week. City workers have gone as far as removing netting from basketball hoops to discourage people from congregating.

Asheville police said they will be enforcing the closure. They will first issue warnings to those who violate the closure. Repeat offenders will be ticketed.

Greenspaces and city trails will remain open for now, but still the city wants to make sure people are keeping the proper distance.

Grizzlies, black and polar bears found together for 1st time

Polar bears, black bears, and grizzlies have been found together for the first time during a University of Saskatchewan research project in northern Manitoba.
 Polar bears, black bears, and grizzlies have been found together for the first time during a University of Saskatchewan research project in northern Manitoba. University of Saskatchewan / Supplied
University of Saskatchewan researchers said they made an unprecedented finding – all three species of North American bears in the same subarctic region.

The researchers documented polar bearsblack bears, and grizzlies in Wapusk National Park on the west coast of Hudson Bay near Churchill, Man.

READ MORE: Draft plan says Nunavut has too many polar bears and climate change isn’t affecting them

“These sightings are consistent with expected ecological responses to the amplified effects of climate change on high-latitude ecosystems,” said Douglas Clark, a conservation scientist at the U of S School of Environment and Sustainability.

“Our observations add to growing evidence that grizzlies are substantially increasing their range in northern Canada.”

Researchers said they observed the bears between 2011 and 2017 using motion-activated cameras.

WATCH BELOW: Grizzly bears at Saskatoon zoo to begin 3rd hibernation

5 fun facts about grizzly bear hibernation at Saskatoon zoo

5 fun facts about grizzly bear hibernation at Saskatoon zoo

What was new in the observations, said Clark, were the grizzlies.

“It’s likely that they will benefit the most because they have been known to dominate the other two species elsewhere, for instance eating both black bears and polar bears, or displacing them,” he said.

However, Clark said, large black bears could have the upper hand when encountering a young grizzly, while smaller species of bears will modify their behaviour to avoid grizzlies.

Clark said the big question is how the interactions will affect bear conservation and management efforts.

He said the overlap could be due to climate change as bears seek out new or expanded habitats for food sources.

“This range overlap shouldn’t be viewed as a threat to any of these bears, but should be understood as an ecological response to environmental change.”

He added Wapusk is at the convergence of the boreal forest, tundra, and ocean ecosystems that are all changing quickly with climate change.

The largest bears in the world use small streams to fatten up on salmon

NEWS RELEASE 19-DEC-2019

OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

CORVALLIS, Ore. – It’s a familiar scene to anyone who’s watched footage of brown bears catching sockeye salmon in Alaska: They’re standing knee-deep in a rushing river, usually near a waterfall, and grabbing passing fish with their paws or jaws.

But a new study published in the journal Conservation Letters reveals a different picture of how and when bears eat salmon. Most of these bears, also known as grizzlies, are dipping into small streams to capture their iconic prey.

Using a foraging model based on the Wood River basin in southwest Alaska, a study team led by Oregon State University determined that while small-stream habitats have only about 20% of the available salmon in the watershed, they provide 50% of bear consumption of salmon.

“This tells us that populations of sockeye salmon that spawn in little streams are disproportionately important to bears,” said study lead author Jonny Armstrong, an ecologist at Oregon State University. “Bears profit from these small streams because they offer salmon at unique times of the season. To capitalize on plentiful salmon runs, bears need them to be spread across time.”

Small streams typically have cold water, which leads to populations of salmon that spawn much earlier in the season when no other populations are available to predators such as bears.

These results have potential consequences for how environmental impact assessments are conducted and evaluated for large projects such as the proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay.

These reports typically focus on how the project will affect the abundance of salmon in lakes and rivers, but they usually overlook smaller habitats, Armstrong said.

“When people want to build a large mine, they think these streams don’t matter because they represent a small fraction a watershed, in terms of area or salmon abundance. In conservation and management, we generally place value on the largest runs of salmon at the expense of the smallest ones,” Armstrong said. “If we pose a different question and ask which habitats are important for the ecosystem, then small streams become particularly relevant.”

The researchers developed a mathematical model that explores how watershed development and commercial fisheries affect how many sockeye salmon are available to grizzlies. The model simulated different patterns of development and explored how they affected the number of salmon bears consumed.

Protecting large salmon runs at the expense of smaller ones turned out to be bad for bears.

“This causes the bears’ total salmon consumption to drop off faster compared to strategies that protected small salmon runs and the early feeding opportunities they offer to bears,” Armstrong said. “If you impair these areas, you may only reduce the total number of salmon by a little, but the number of salmon that end up in bear’s stomachs – you could reduce that a lot.”

According to the study authors, there are two significant reasons why the largest bears in the world are drawn to small streams to eat salmon.

First, the fish in these streams are easy to catch for adult and juvenile grizzlies. And second, because the water is colder than in lakes and rivers, salmon spawn in them earlier – probably to give their eggs more time to incubate, the authors said. So, the fish are plentiful by the first week of July – making them the first places bears fish after they emerge from hibernation.

“When they come out of hibernation, the bears are just scraping by and barely making it,” Armstrong said. “Having these streams means they can start eating salmon in early July, which is about six weeks before the river- and lake-salmon populations start spawning and become available to bears. It’s an incredible foraging opportunity for bears.”

Armstrong added, “I’m sure that native Alaskans who subsisted on salmon were keenly aware of this, too.”

###

Armstrong is an assistant professor in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife in OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences.

Collaborators on the study included Daniel Schindler, professor in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington; Curry Cunningham, research fisheries biologist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks; Will Deacy, a former postdoctoral researcher at OSU now at the U.S. National Park Service; and Patrick Walsh, supervisory fish and wildlife biologist at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Togiak National Wildlife Refuge.

Funding for the study was provided by the David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellowship of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Science Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and funds from the Alaska salmon processing industry that support the University of Washington’s Alaska Salmon Program.

*****************************************
IPCC
“Limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changein all aspects of society.”
First sentence of IPPC Special Report on 1.5C Summary for Policy Makers.
***********************************************
Greta Thunberg
“So if we are to stay below the 1.5 degrees of warming limits …, we need to change almost everything.”
*****************************************

Forbes

“It’s time that everyone, from the humble homeowner to the highest levels of business and government, rethink their relationship with energy and take action. Relying on renewables alone won’t be enough.”
<<https://www.forbes.com/sites/mikehughes1/2019/08/02/climate-change-18-months-to-save-the-world/#166763c749bd>>

Some perspective on grizzlies and salmon

Brown bears at Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park July 1, 2015 feast on sockeye salmon skin, which has a nutritious layer of fat.

Brown bears at Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park July 1, 2015 feast on sockeye s

The stark images of malnourished grizzly bears on the coast of British Columbia, Canada, have garnered widespread international media attention. The photographs are difficult to view and strike a chord of deep concern in most people.

Raincoast Conservation Foundation has long advocated for a wildlife welfare ethic when it comes to the conservation and management of large carnivores. This approach becomes even more compelling when the life requisites, in this case wild salmon, of species such as coastal grizzlies are diminished as a result of human activities.

Much of the news coverage associated with the aforementioned situation has been linked to climate change, but this particular salmon run collapse is likely the result of a suite of influences, not the least of which is the failure to protect wild salmon in British Columbia from fishing pressure, habitat degradation, hatchery impacts, fish farms and more.

Wild salmon and grizzly bears have an intertwined relationship and the choices we make are inextricably linked to their fates. When salmon are plentiful in coastal streams, bears thrive and produce more cubs. Grizzlies also occur at higher densities and grow to larger sizes when salmon are abundant. Importantly, when salmon are plentiful, bears eat less of each fish, selecting the nutrient-rich brains and eggs and casting aside the remainder. These salmon remains then feed other animals, scavengers and fertilize the adjacent streamside zone. Thus, abundant salmon boosts the amount and value of food for bears, as well as transfers more nutrients and energy to other wild consumers.

In contrast, when salmon are scarce, grizzlies produce fewer cubs, if any, and eat more of each individual fish. Less discarded salmon enters the surrounding ecosystem with diminished benefits for other wildlife, plants, and less visible organisms such as fungi, algae, and insects. Commercial salmon fisheries typically extract 50% or more of the salmon bound for rivers, bears and forests. When the number of salmon returning to spawn from their ocean migration is variable, fishery managers favor the short-term benefit of harvest, even when salmon abundance is low and even if it means forgoing larger harvests in the future. Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans manages for spawner persistence, not for healthy, abundant spawning runs.

Despite the knowledge that many species depend on salmon, humans have never managed fisheries with wildlife in mind.

Contemporary thinking in conservation science instructs salmon management to include the bears, whales and other wildlife that have an evolutionary reliance on the annual pulse of nutrients and food energy delivered via spawning salmon. Even Canada’s Wild Salmon Policy recognizes the need for management to transcend salmon ‘production’ alone and consider the needs of terrestrial species.

For this policy to be consequential, however, it requires fisheries managers to consider bears and other wildlife by lowering catches and allowing more salmon to reach the rivers to spawn. Currently, humans engage in what ecologists call “exploitative competition,” — we capture salmon en route to spawning grounds before they can reach awaiting carnivores. Even salmon runs that spawn in protected watersheds and parks are subjected to exploitation by commercial fisheries. Often, these parks were created to protect species such as grizzlies, black bears and wolves. As such, we suspect that grizzly bears now receive a fraction of the salmon they evolved with, which ultimately manifests in population declines through repeated years of low birth rates.

In some areas, we believe it is time to establish truly protected salmon runs – runs that would be managed solely for their importance to wildlife and ecosystems. This would allow salmon to return to spawning grounds without encountering the nets and hooks of the Pacific salmon fleet. And those fish would then spawn in rivers that flow naturally without their watersheds logged, developed or otherwise impaired.

Of course, it is not just fishing nets and hooks that rob wildlife of their energy needs. Degraded freshwater and marine habitat, fish farms and disease, dams and diversions, hatcheries and genetic dilution, climate change and changing ocean conditions, all influence salmon abundance. Human generated impacts that reduce salmon abundance must be addressed. However, reducing, and in some cases eliminating, exploitation from fisheries would have an immediate, positive effect on coastal wildlife.

Chris Genovali is executive director of Raincoast Conservation Foundation. Misty MacDuffee is Raincoast’s Wild Salmon Program Director and Paul Paquet is Raincoast’s senior scientist.

The problem with bears in our backyards isn’t a bear problem at all; it’s a human one

Bear-human conflict increases substantially in years when natural foods fail.

LARS JOHANSSON/STOCK

Kyle Artelle is an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Victoria and a biologist with the Raincoast Conservation Foundation.

Last month, in Penticton, B.C. a group of five black bears – three males and two younger females – had been spotted feasting on residents’ garbage. Conservation authorities were called in, and the five bears were shot dead. This came just a week after six bears were shot in a three-day period near Kelowna. These bears – who have grown accustomed to humans and are comfortable in our proximity – are deemed “conflict bears” in the conservation community.

Unfortunately these incidents were anything but anomalies. This year there has been a substantial increase in the number of bears killed across B.C. The common response to these kinds of conflicts is to focus on the bears themselves: killing bears, relocating bears, or having a fear of humans instilled in bears. Hunters will even argue that the best solution to reducing human-bear conflict is to hunt more bears, with the assumption that fewer bears will lead to less conflict.

Unfortunately, these responses are at best misguided, and often counterproductive. The truth is that the root of bear-human conflicts has little to do with bears – and a lot to do with us. However, better co-existence with our ursine neighbours is possible, based on solid understanding of bears, problem human behaviour and the ecology of bear-human conflict.

Research my colleagues and I have conducted has found that in the long-term, killing so-called conflict bears does not seem to affect conflict patterns in the long-term. Similar research has found the same in Ontario, Colorado, and elsewhere. You kill some conflict bears, and others will replace them.

An understanding of the ecology of conflict between bears and humans reveals another important insight: although, the saying “a fed bear is a dead bear” can certainly be true when bears become too dependent on human food, bears who venture near human habitation in years of particularly poor natural food availability do not necessarily return the next year, if natural food conditions improve.

This is perhaps not a surprise given bears’ preference for human avoidance: other than in extreme garbage-conditioning cases, if natural foods return, so too should avoidance of people.

Key to effectively addressing bear-human conflict is instead realizing that for the most part, it’s not bears that need to be managed – but people. Conflict can be thought to arise from two inter-related processes: proximate causes, such as someone’s garbage drawing a bear into their yard or someone surprising a mother grizzly bear with her cub, and ultimate or ecological causes, such as humans encroaching into bear territory or loss of natural foods. When we start to see bears coming into towns and backyards it is helpful to avoid knee-jerk reactions and to instead ask: why? Finding out what is actually driving the pattern will inform effective solutions.

Poor attractant management is by and large the most consistent problem human behaviour. Although bears generally avoid human habitation, persistent human food sources (for example, fruit trees, garbage, compost) can be too hard to resist, especially in late summer and fall when bears are desperately trying to pack on the pounds pre-hibernation. Treating this as a bear problem is to propel an unending cycle that not only results in the needless killing of bears but also in a waste of time and energy.

It is also helpful to understand the ecological context. Our research in B.C. has found that bear-human conflict increases substantially in years when natural foods fail. Examples of this include poor salmon returns, berry failures, or similar. This highlights the importance of management that takes an ecosystem approach, for example managing to ensure sufficient berries on the landscape, and fisheries management that ensures sufficient salmon for bears. An ecological understanding can also be used to predict when conflict might be at its worst. Years with poor natural food availability could signal a need for extra vigilance and management of problem human behaviour.

There have been some promising developments highlighting how we can shift toward a more informed and effective approach to mitigating bear-human conflict. For example, Port Moody recently increased the fines for improperly stored garbage by 10-fold – with repeat offenders facing fines of up to $1,000 – in an effort to reduce the number of black bears killed each year.

In Bella Coola, a provincial hot spot for grizzly bear-human conflict, the Nuxalk First Nation-led Bear Safety program takes a holistic approach to conflict mitigation involving public education and programs that work with landowners to take measures such as removing attractants and constructing strategic electric fencing.

Although managing landscapes and fisheries with bears and other wildlife in mind is not yet the norm in B.C., there are some promising cases of where it is increasingly being taken into account. For example, a number of Coastal First Nations explicitly consider the needs of bears and other salmon consumers in their salmon stewardship planning.

A recent report commissioned by Raincoast Conservation Foundation and produced by the University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Centre offers policy reforms that could improve agency responses to conflict, including independent oversight and a shift toward a more restrained (and less lethal) response to conflicts.

This year’s high rates of bear-human conflict have been frustrating and upsetting for many. This is in many ways more of a symptom of our own behaviour than that of bears. The sooner we can learn from successful examples of bear-human co-existence and adjust our focus to our own behaviour, the sooner the widespread and consistent stories of bears being shot in cities and towns of B.C. and beyond could become a thing of the past.

RELATED TOPICS

Grisly cargo of 240 bear paws which were ‘destined for China to be turned into food and traditional medicine’ is seized by Russian security agents

A stash of bear paws was intercepted by the FSB at a border post with China
The Russian agents later found tiger paws and mammoth tusks in a garage
It is likely the bear paws were obtained after illegal slaughter of
60 animals

By Will Stewart for MailOnline

Published: 15:15 GMT, 12 November 2019 | Updated: 15:16 GMT, 12 November
2019

A grisly cargo of 240 bear paws which were allegedly on their way to China has been seized by Russian security services.

Two paws of an endangered Amur tiger and a pair of extinct woolly mammoth tusks were also found in the illegal cache.

The gruesome goods are believed to have been destined for China to be used in traditional medicines and food delicacies.

The bear paws intercepted at the Chinese border are from Himalayan – or black – bears endemic to the far east of Russia and it is likely they were obtained after the illegal slaughter of 60 animals.
Seized: A cargo of bear paws from 60 illegally slaughtered animals is seen after it was intercepted by Russian security agents
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Seized: A cargo of bear paws from 60 illegally slaughtered animals is seen after it was intercepted by Russian security agents
Illegal: Two of the paws which were seized by Russia’s FSB security agency at a border post between Russia and China
+5

Illegal: Two of the paws which were seized by Russia’s FSB security agency at a border post between Russia and China

‘Two Russian nationals and two foreigners have been detained,’ said a statement from the FSB security agency.

They face up to seven years in jail for smuggling tiger and bear parts as well as ivory out of Russia, said the security service.

A total of 44 bear paws and two Amur – or Siberian – tiger paws were seized from two ‘foreigners’ at the Kraskino border post which links China and the Primorsky region of Russia.

Later, 198 bear paws and two mammoth tusks were found in a garage at a house linked to the alleged smuggling ring.

Four sacks of unidentified animal body parts were also seized and will now be analysed.

Sergey Aramilev, director general of Amur Tiger Centre, said the tiger paws were from an animal that died earlier than this year.

The tigers are among the most threatened big cats on the planet.

‘This is clearly a crime,’ he said.
One of the paws in the collection of 240 bear paws, two paws of an endangered Amur tiger and a pair of extinct woolly mammoth tusks which were intercepted at the Chinese border

One of the paws in the collection of 240 bear paws, two paws of an endangered Amur tiger and a pair of extinct woolly mammoth tusks which were intercepted at the Chinese border The bear paws are from Himalayan – or black – bears endemic to the far east of Russia and it is likely they were obtained after the illegal slaughter of 60 animals

The bear paws are from Himalayan – or black – bears endemic to the far east of Russia and it is likely they were obtained after the illegal slaughter of 60 animals A stash of 198 bear paws and two mammoth tusks were found in a garage at a house linked to the alleged smuggling ring

A stash of 198 bear paws and two mammoth tusks were found in a garage at a house linked to the alleged smuggling ring

‘All the circumstances of the crime and all the chains in the criminal ring will be established during the investigation.

‘It is most important to establish where are the remaining parts of the tiger.’

He warned that only a ‘small part’ of a large trafficking operation of wild animal parts is curtailed by the authorities.

He also praised the FSB for the successful operation in busting one smuggling route.

Delicacies made with bear paws – such as soups and stews – can command prices of up to £750, it has been reported.

Bear as well as tiger paws are also turned into traditional medicines to supposedly strengthen the spleen and stomach.

They can be used to counter rheumatism, it is claimed.

Mammoth tusks are ground into powder and can be used for traditional medicines and cosmetics.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7676875/Grisly-cargo-240-bear-paws-60-illegally-slaughtered-animals-seized.html

Island Voices: The evolutionary links between grizzlies and salmon

The stark images of malnourished grizzly bears on the coast of British Columbia have garnered widespread media attention. The photographs are difficult to view and strike a chord of deep concern in most people.

Raincoast Conservation Foundation has long advocated for a wildlife welfare ethic when it comes to the conservation and management of large carnivores. This approach becomes even more compelling when the life requisites, in this case wild salmon, of species such as coastal grizzlies are diminished as a result of human activities.

Much of the news coverage associated with the aforementioned situation has been linked to climate change, but this particular salmon-run collapse is likely the result of a suite of influences, not the least of which is the failure to protect wild salmon in B.C. from fishing pressure, habitat degradation, hatchery impacts, fish farms and more.

Wild salmon and grizzly bears have an intertwined relationship, and the choices we make are inextricably linked to their fates. When salmon are plentiful in coastal streams, bears thrive and produce more cubs. Grizzlies also occur at higher densities and grow to larger sizes when salmon are abundant.

Importantly, when salmon are plentiful, bears eat less of each fish, selecting the nutrient-rich brains and eggs and casting aside the remainder. These salmon remains then feed other animals, scavengers, and fertilize the adjacent streamside zone. Thus, abundant salmon boosts the amount and value of food for bears, as well as transfers more nutrients and energy to other wild consumers.

In contrast, when salmon are scarce, grizzlies produce fewer cubs, if any, and eat more of each individual fish. Less discarded salmon enters the surrounding ecosystem with diminished benefits for other wildlife, plants and less-visible organisms such as fungi, algae and insects. Commercial salmon fisheries typically extract 50 per cent or more of the salmon bound for rivers, bears and forests.

When the number of salmon returning to spawn from their ocean migration is variable, fishery managers favour the short-term benefit of harvest, even when salmon abundance is low and even if it means forgoing larger harvests in the future. The federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans manages for spawner persistence, not for healthy, abundant spawning runs.

Despite the knowledge that many species depend on salmon, fisheries have never been managed with wildlife in mind.

Whether its bears, wolves or whales, many coastal species have evolved to rely on annual returns of Pacific salmon. But how are the food needs of these animals considered in fisheries management or the benefits of salmon managed for coastal ecosystems? Bottom line: they aren’t.

Contemporary thinking in conservation science instructs salmon management to include the bears, whales and other wildlife that have an evolutionary reliance on the annual pulse of nutrients and food energy delivered via spawning salmon. Even Canada’s Wild Salmon Policy recognizes the need for management to transcend salmon “production” alone and consider the needs of terrestrial species.

For this policy to be consequential however, it requires fisheries managers to consider bears and other wildlife by lowering catches and allowing more salmon to reach the rivers to spawn. Currently, humans engage in what ecologists call “exploitative competition,” i.e. we capture salmon en route to spawning grounds before they can reach awaiting carnivores.

Even salmon runs that spawn in protected watersheds and parks are subjected to exploitation by commercial fisheries. Often, these parks were created to protect species such as grizzlies, black bears and wolves. As such, we suspect that grizzly bears now receive a fraction of the salmon they evolved with, which ultimately manifests in population declines through repeated years of low birth rates.

In some areas, we believe it is time to establish truly protected salmon runs — runs that would be managed solely for their importance to wildlife and ecosystems. This would allow salmon to return to spawning grounds without encountering the nets and hooks of the Pacific salmon fleet. And those fish would then spawn in rivers that flow naturally without their watersheds logged, developed or otherwise impaired.

Of course, it is not just fishing nets and hooks that rob wildlife of their energy needs. Degraded freshwater and marine habitat, fish farms and disease, dams and diversions, hatcheries and genetic dilution, climate change and changing ocean conditions, all influence salmon abundance. Human-generated impacts that reduce salmon abundance must be addressed. However, reducing, and in some cases eliminating, exploitation from fisheries would have an immediate, positive effect on coastal wildlife.

Chris Genovali is executive director of the Raincoast Conservation Foundation. Misty MacDuffee is Raincoast’s Wild Salmon Program director and Paul C. Paquet is Raincoast’s senior scientist.