Moose hunting banned in Cariboo wildfire zones

The ministry-imposed ban affects areas west of Quesnel and Williams Lake

The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development announced today that two areas affected by wildfire in the Cariboo will be closed to moose hunting from Oct. 15-31 and Nov. 1-15.

The closures affect an area north of Highway 20 and west of Williams Lake and Quesnel, after the Chilcotin Plateau Fire ravaged the area this summer. The press release noted that the area is also important to First Nations sustenance hunting.

Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, said: “This has been an unprecedented wildfire season, with parts the Cariboo particularly hard hit. With moose populations already declining in this management zone, we need to take steps now to protect wildlife and ensure healthy moose populations in the future.”

The closure comes after First Nations groups in the region called for the province to instate a moratorium on moose hunting.

Contacted for comment, Nazko First Nation chief Stuart Alec said: “It’s great news to hear that the province is taking steps to address the situation and the concerns of the Nazko people and others concerned about the moose populations.

“We are looking forward to working further with the province to maintain moose populations in the region.

“We have not been hunting in the wildfire zones, and are focusing our hunts north of the Blackwater River.”

The ministry indicated that the areas impacted by the hunting ban will be assessed over the winter to inform what level of sustainable hunting will be available in the coming years.

Rare sighting of leatherback off B.C. coast raises issue of plastic pollution

Endangered giant turtle, a ‘living dinosaur,’ often bears brunt of waste in ocean, marine biologist says

Jennifer Wilson · CBC News · Posted: Aug 25, 2018 8:00 AM PT | Last Updated: an hour ago

<https://i.cbc.ca/1.4795678.1535143174!/fileImage/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/16x9_780/leatherback-turtle.jpg>

There have been fewer than 135 leatherback sightings in B.C. waters since the 1930s. The giant turtles swim from Indonesia to feed on jellyfish. (Willie Mitchell / Jeremy Koreski)

A rare sighting of the endangered leatherback turtle off the B.C. coast is an opportunity to celebrate — but also to reflect on the danger of plastic waste in the oceans, a marine biologist says.

Earlier this month, two Vancouver Island men captured photos of the enormous sea turtle. It was one of fewer than 135 sightings recorded in B.C. waters since the 1930s.

The leatherback is one of the largest reptiles on the planet and can grow to the size of a Smart car. Instead of a shell, the turtles have a thick, collapsible leather-like back that allows them to dive to extreme ocean depths of up to 1,270 metres.

The turtles, which travel from Indonesia to feed on jellyfish, have seen their populations decline drastically in recent years, in part due to frequent entanglement in plastic pollution, according to the the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

Turtles confuse balloons with jellyfish

In Jackie Hildering’s experience, marine species are often the first to bear the brunt of environmental problems and leatherbacks are no exception, as many are found with plastic in their stomachs.

Hildering, a researcher with the Marine Education and Research Society, said many people in B.C. may not even know the species exists in local waters, but that even small actions such as releasing a balloon into the air without thinking about where it might land can have an impact on the turtles’ survival.

“One of the powerful things to realize is that they can’t discern plastics and balloons from their jellyfish prey,” she told Jason D’Souza, host of CBC’s <https://www.cbc.ca/listen/shows/all-points-west> All Points West.

Leatherback turtles in Canada have been designated as an endangered species under the Species at Risk Act. The species has lost 70 per cent of its numbers in the past 15 years.

Tracking jellyfish

A major challenge in tracking and restoring leatherback populations in B.C. waters is first tracking their food source, the jellyfish, said Lisa Spaven, a scientist with the DFO’s Pacific Biological Station.

Marine biologists rely on fish surveys to include jellyfish population data, including density and location. Jellyfish are hard to track and scientists are still figuring out whether leatherbacks prefer areas with a high density of small jellyfish or a low density of large jellyfish, Spaven said.

<https://i.cbc.ca/1.4522193.1535071363!/fileImage/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/original_780/jellyfish-bloom-b-c-ubc.jpg>

Hundreds of jellyfish float beneath the surface off Canada’s West Coast. They are the food source that draws the leatherback turtle across the ocean from Indonesia. (Keith Holmes/Hakai Institute)

“We’re still trying to get a handle on the currents and where the jellyfish are. There’s a lot of work yet to be done,” she said.

Funding for leatherback conservation was not approved by the DFO this year according to Spaven but her department continues to carry out habitat protection work in Indonesia, where nests are at risk from predators such as wild pigs.

‘​Smallest needle in the biggest haystack’

Former Vancouver Canucks defenceman Willie Mitchell and photographer Jeremy Koreski spotted the turtle on Aug. 6 just west of Tofino, B.C., and forwarded their photos to Hildering.

Hildering said the men recognized the turtle as a leatherback but, like many in B.C., did not know how important the sighting was.

“​I don’t think they knew that I would fall off my chair when they sent the photos, I don’t know that they knew they found the smallest needle in the biggest haystack,” she said.

Leatherbacks are “living dinosaurs” that “belong in B.C. waters,” Hildering said, and their presence is a reminder of the wide variety of species B.C. coastal waters should support under optimal conditions.

“It’s a testament to how rich our waters are supposed to be.”

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/rare-sighting-of-leatherback-off-b-c-coast-raises-issue-of-plastic-pollution-1.4795676

B.C.’s approach to wildlife management needs major ethical reform

Kyle Artelle, Paul Paquet, Faisal Moola, Chris Genovali, and Chris Darimont are scientists and writers at the Raincoast Conservation Foundation. Kyle Artelle, Paul Paquet, and Chris Darimont are also at the University of Victoria, and Faisal Moola is also at the University of Guelph

British Columbia has begun an ambitious effort to review the province’s approach to managing wildlife, with $14-million committed so far. The province’s interest in reform is encouraging. As explained in a letter we recently published in the journal Science, this endeavour and its justification are laudable, and if done properly, have the potential for making B.C. a continental leader in wildlife management. Whether this happens, however, will depend largely on whether the reform embraces principles of science honestly and openly, while involving the varied interests of all citizens, rather than only consumptive users (hunters and trappers).

British Columbia is blessed with a remarkable diversity of wildlife. Many of the 3,800 known plant and animal species in B.C. live only here. The province is also critical for winged migrations that extend over thousands of kilometres. Unlike most places in North America, B.C. has additionally retained all of the large land animals that were present at the time of European colonization, including grizzly bears, wolves, caribou and cougars, making it among the last havens for the large animals left on the continent.

A sub-adult grizzly bear chases down a salmon near Klemtu, B.C. (File Photo).

JOHN LEHMANN

However, many might be surprised to learn that instead of the management of this wildlife being primarily focused on conservation of species and the ecosystems on which they depend, in B.C., as across much of North America, the focus is typically on the management of wildlife to allow for sustained exploitation by hunters and trappers.

This consumptive focus can overshadow broader concerns about wildlife, including ethical considerations. Although there are clearly ethical considerations in any decisions about the environment, wildlife management is one of the few fields for which ethics remain notably absent. This stands in contrast with other areas of public policy, such as criminal justice and health care, where the recognition of ethics is foundational. Such consideration has led to better outcomes, such as improved well-being of those affected by policy decisions.

The scale of wildlife exploitation can be difficult to comprehend. Although hunting and trapping might evoke visions of traditional, low-scale and low-impact endeavours, both undertakings currently comprise an enormous extractive activity: For many wildlife species, humans kill more adults than all other predators combined.

Given this reality, one might hope that wildlife management would have considerable oversight and rigour to protect against potential negative impacts on wildlife populations. And wildlife managers across North America usually do claim a scientific foundation for their activities. However, recent research in the journal Science Advances found that key hallmarks of science are often missing in management of species across North America. For example, of the 667 management systems that study examined, only 26 per cent had measurable objectives, only 11 per cent explained how hunting quotas or limits were set and only 9 per cent were subject to external review.

To reform management so that science can honestly and credibly support policy decisions will require incorporating key hallmarks of science: 1) Clear objectives are needed for the public to understand what government wildlife managers are trying to achieve. These objectives need to be clear enough to allow assessment of whether they have been met, and their ethical basis needs to be clearly described; 2) Strong evidence is needed to ensure that well-informed decisions are made. In cases with weak evidence, strong caution is warranted; 3) Full transparency to the public is required in how wildlife is managed, including how the funding the public provides for management is used, and; 4) External scrutiny, whereby independentbodies (that is, individuals who are neither part of government, appointed by government, nor too closely affiliated to be unbiased) scrutinize the approach used by government, to ensure approaches used are credible.

The B.C. government recently made the courageous decision to end the province’s ethically questionable, controversial and scientifically suspect grizzly bear trophy hunt, a decision that government leaders acknowledged was partly in response to changing societal values about wildlife management. These included considerations of cultural and other non-lethal values and activities, such as wildlife viewing. The current review of provincial wildlife management provides a tremendous opportunity to further demonstrate leadership for the province and the continent, by addressing the critical need for broader wildlife policy reform that is informed by science and reflective of societal attitudes and desires, including ethical concerns in wildlife management.

B.C. works to safeguard livestock during another tough wildfire season

13,000 livestock, mostly cattle, have been in areas affected by evacuation orders and alerts

Cattle run on a ranch as the Shovel Lake wildfire burns in the distance sending a massive cloud of smoke into the air near Fort St. James. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

British Columbia’s agriculture minister says critical lessons learned from last year’s wildfires that had ranchers and producers suffering devastating losses will help save animals during another season that could force more people from their properties.

Lana Popham said Wednesday the province’s premises identification program, which was meant to trace cattle back to an operation during a disease outbreak, allowed animals to be rescued last year after evacuation orders were issued.

“As the fires increased last summer and this program seemed to have so much value we saw those numbers increase significantly,” she said of more farmers and ranchers registering for the program.

“That’s allowing us to get into areas that have been identified as heavy agricultural, livestock areas and be able to assess a situation and move those animals out as needed.”

In some cases, grazing cattle remained safe in certain areas after ranchers have left due to encroaching fires, Popham said, adding 35,000 livestock were on the loose last year at the height of the worst wildfire conditions.

“This program allows them to re-enter into evacuation zones and tend to their livestock so it’s extremely important for people to be registered for this program and I think over the last two years, especially, that message has hit home.”

So far this season, 13,000 livestock, mostly cattle but also sheep, horses and pigs, have been in areas affected by evacuation orders and alerts, Popham said, adding ministry staff are working with the B.C. Cattlemen’s Association to co-ordinate alternate grazing sites, organizing emergency feeds and helping with the relocation of animals.

“We won’t often know if they’ve been lost until they don’t come home later in the fall,” Popham said. “I have heard reports of cattle that have been burned, but no numbers on that yet.”

Williams Lake is one of the hardest-hit areas, Popham said.

“The emotional toll that these farmers and ranchers are feeling is tremendous. And we saw this last year. You see some of the strongest farmers you know break down when they realize some of their animals aren’t coming home.”

After the 2017 wildfires, the federal government provided $20 million in funding to help farmers and ranchers, but Popham said her ministry has not made any requests for financial help so far this year as it awaits assessments on areas that weren’t affected last year.

Hungry black bear boards four boats over three days

By Warren Schlote

https://www.manitoulin.ca/hungry-black-bear-boards-four-boats-over-three-days/

August 22, 2018

HEYWOOD ISLAND—Boaters seeking a quiet anchorage in the sheltered waters of Browning Cove, east of Little Current at Heywood Island, have instead found themselves facing a hungry bear that visited four different boats over the course of three days.

“I was down below fixing dinner, a bass I caught yesterday, when I heard this loud strange scratching noise,” says Brian Laux of Walworth, NY.

“I thought it might have been a human swimmer in trouble, someone who was so weak they couldn’t crawl out of the water. But when I went outside there was a bear right in the water—he was trying to climb up the side of the boat,” Mr. Laux recalled. “He sort of gave me a dirty look.”

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Mr. Laux immediately got in contact with Roy Eaton, who runs the daily Cruiser’s Net broadcast out of Little Current, to share his incredible story. At the time, he did not consider the bear a major threat because of his timid interaction with it. Mr. Laux says he has heard the bear is often spotted swimming across the mouth of the bay in which he was anchored but more recently it has been seen making trips to Browning Island.

Fortunately, the bear left without much fuss after this first encounter. But it was not finished yet.

Mr. Laux had just finished listening to the morning broadcast when he heard the unmistakable sound of the bear paddling back towards his boat—perhaps ironically named Serenity. This time, the bear was more persistent. “I poked him in the nose with my boat hook,” said Mr. Laux. The bear, although seemingly annoyed by the gesture, swam around the boat a couple times and eventually retreated back to shore.

That morning, Mr. Laux was visited by the owners of a boat called Carandy. Unfortunately, Mr. Laux was not the first person to have an encounter with this bear. On the same day as Mr. Laux’s first encounter, the bear had already visited Carandy, which was anchored in the same area as Serenity. Carandy’s owners did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

When the bear arrived, Carandy’s owners were away on a kayak trip. When they returned, the bear was in the process of tearing apart their cabin. It had climbed aboard using the swim ladder they left down to get into their kayaks. Carandy’s cupboards were ripped off and nearly everything inside was eaten, chewed or covered in fur and bear spit. After making noise by banging on the hull, the bear finally was scared off and retreated to the island.

Carandy’s interior was trashed. With no other options, the boaters elected to clean up their mess and figure out what to do next. But as they were cleaning, the bear came back and attempted to board the boat again from the bow. After a solid whack on its nose from the boat hook, the bear swam back towards land and stared at Carandy from the shore. Feeling threatened by the bear’s continued presence, they moved to the middle of the bay and set up anchorage there.

Meanwhile, after Mr. Laux fended off the bear the following morning, he elected to stay one final night but repositioned himself further from shore. He went around to visit the other boats anchored in the area and made sure they knew of the bear’s presence and to keep their swim ladders up.

Mr. Laux’s warning and an advisory on Mr. Eaton’s Cruisers Net proved useful for Dennis Kirkwood, who had just arrived into the bay on his catamaran. After a late dinner with his girlfriend, they were getting ready for bed around midnight when they heard a thumping and scratching noise under the stern of the boat.

“I immediately suspected what it was,” said Mr. Kirkwood. “I ran out and grabbed a whisker pole and started clanking it around.”

The bear was under the swim platform, between the two hulls. The bear had knocked out the floor plate and its paw was coming up through the opening. After a continued effort, Mr. Kirkwood switched to his wooden oar to hit the bear’s paw. The bear pulled its paw back but remained under the platform, breathing heavily.

“It was very surrealistic,” said Mr. Kirkwood, adding that the pitch darkness of the night added a complicated aspect to the ordeal.

“He’s substantial sized, maybe 250 pounds; not a cub at all,” Mr. Kirkwood says.

Mr. Kirkwood continued to poke through the opening to encourage the bear to leave, but it stayed put. That was a surprise, as Mr. Kirkwood understood bears usually scatter upon hearing loud noises.

“I tried blasting my air horn like a madman trying to get him to leave, but he just stayed on.”

With that, Mr. Kirkwood decided to keep prodding it with his oar to encourage the bear to leave. It worked, but the bear managed to break his wooden oar in the process.

Mr. Kirkwood notified Mr. Eaton of his experience. The bear incidents were turning into a trend.

On Thursday night, Otto Gustafson had what may have been the closest experience yet. He arrived at Heywood Island and had anchored for the night. At about 9:30, he heard the telltale scratching and splashing of a bear next to his boat. His swim ladder was up, so he decided to stay put because the bear should not have been able to make it on board.

He was wrong.

Suddenly, the bear climbed the stern and appeared in the cockpit. The bear started sniffing for something to eat, and the two came within 18 inches of each other. Mr. Gustafson began screaming and making noise at the bear, but the bear seemed to ignore the disturbance. Mr. Gustafson even shone his spotlight into its eyes and sounded his foghorn, but nothing seemed to dissuade the bear.

The bear had put its paw through the screen that separated it from Mr. Gustafson, when a fellow boater heard the commotion and came alongside them on his dinghy. It was not a moment too soon. The presence of the dinghy seemed to scare off the bear which walked to the bow, entered the water and disappeared.

So far, these four boat boardings are the only reports The Expositor has heard of regarding bear encounters at Heywood Island or elsewhere.

“I suspect somebody might have fed it off a boat at one point. That’s a supposition, but he’s certainly learned that boats equal food,” says Mr. Laux.

Jolanta Kowalski from Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) says this year’s wild food surveys have indicated a decrease in natural food availability for bears because of an ongoing drought.

“Bears have a phenomenal sense of smell and if they find food once at a location, they will return. It’s critical for boat residents and the public to manage anything that may attract bears such as garbage and food,” stresses Ms. Kowalski.

The Expositor asked at what point the MNRF would take action, if any, to deal with the situation, and what that action would entail.

According to an email received from the MNRF, if a bear is a public safety risk people should call 911 or their local police. A bear breaking into a residence – in this case a boat – would qualify as an emergency. (see below from Bear Wise web page)

Police will assess the situation. They may call MNRF for assistance to trap and relocate a specific problem bear.

The Ministry provides advice and education. The public can call the Bear Wise phone line 1-866-514-2327 <tel:+18665142327> for information about avoiding human-bear conflicts.

Who to contact

Emergencies

Call 911 or your local police, if you feel a bear poses an immediate threat to personal safety and:

* enters a school yard when school is in session
* enters or tries to enter a residence
* wanders into a public gathering
* kills livestock/pets and lingers at the site
* stalks people and lingers at the site

Generally, bears want to avoid humans. Most encounters are not aggressive and attacks are rare.

Non-emergencies

Call the Bear Wise reporting line at 1-866-514-2327 <tel:+18665142327> (*between April 1-November 30) if a bear is:

* roaming around, checking garbage cans
* breaking into a shed where garbage or food is stored
* in a tree
* pulling down a bird feeder or knocking over a barbecue
* moving through a backyard or field but is not lingering

https://www.manitoulin.ca/hungry-black-bear-boards-four-boats-over-three-days/

<https://www.manitoulin.ca/hungry-black-bear-boards-four-boats-over-three-days/>

Hungry black bear boards four boats over three days <https://www.manitoulin.ca/hungry-black-bear-boards-four-boats-over-three-days/>

http://www.manitoulin.ca <http://www.manitoulin.ca>

HEYWOOD ISLAND—Boaters seeking a quiet anchorage in the sheltered waters of Browning Cove, east of Little Current at Heywood Island, have instead found themselves facing a hungry bear that visited four different boats over the course of three days.

Mixed-ancestry wolves are recolonizing the Pacific Northwest

Their combination of coastal and inland DNA could help them survive a changing climate.

This article is from Hakai Magazine, an online publication about science and society in coastal ecosystems.

https://www.hcn.org/articles/wolves-mixed-ancestry-wolves-are-recolonizing-the-pacific-northwest

Wolves were wiped out in Washington state in the early 20th century — the victims of bounty hunting as ranching and farming expanded in the state. Over the past two decades, however, under the protection of state and federal wildlife authorities, wolves have been reclaiming their former turf. But as new research shows, the wolves now living and hunting in Washington’s forests are different from those that lived there more than a century ago. These new wolves are hybrids — crossbreeds of inland wolves from the interior United States and a unique, beach-loving subspecies from as far north as Southeast Alaska.

The ancestors of the wolves now recolonizing the Pacific Northwest include a coastal subspecies.
Chris Darimont / raincoast.org

The researchers who made this discovery think the hybrid wolves’ DNA could help them thrive in a changing landscape.

Conventional wisdom holds that the wolf packs slowly recolonizing not only Washington but Oregon and California are the descendants of animals that migrated west from the interior — from the mountains, plains, and forests of Montana and Idaho. But when researchers analyzed DNA samples from wolves throughout the Pacific Northwest, the results told a different story. Sarah Hendricks — now a computational biology doctoral candidate at the University of Idaho — was a research assistant at the University of California, Los Angeles when she and her colleagues amassed genetic samples from the region’s wolves. A recent analysis shows that some of the wolves have unique genetic markers that could have only come from the distinct coastal wolves of British Columbia and Southeast Alaska.

Coastal wolves differ from their interior cousins in a number of important ways. Unlike interior wolves, which stalk large mammals such as elk through forests and fields, coastal wolves spend much of their time on beaches, hunting salmon and marine mammals such as seals. Coastal wolves also look different — they’re smaller and their fur has a red-brown tinge.

So far, the hybrid wolves are sticking to the lifestyle of their ancestors from the east. “As of right now, the wolf packs are mostly in the habitat that’s suitable for interior wolves, but we think over time they’ll begin to establish in habitat that’s more suitable for coastal wolves,” says Hendricks. As the climate continues to change, Hendricks suspects the hybrid wolves’ genetic diversity will allow them to adapt better than if they just had genes from interior wolves.

Even without the benefits of genetic mixing, wolves are generally quite adaptable animals, says Jay Shepherd, who leads the wolf program for the nonprofit organization Conservation Northwest. In Yellowstone Park, for instance, wolves hunt bison. These wolves are much larger than those in surrounding regions, but their size is the consequence of a diet driven by learned behavior rather than genetics. Still, he agrees that hybrids could have an advantage in areas with a mix of habitats.

The coastal wolves of British Columbia and Southeast Alaska are a distinctive subpopulation with red-brown fur and a hunting style adapted to coastal life.
Chris Darimont / raincoast.org

The finding also offers a life preserver of a sort to the coastal wolves of British Columbia and Alaska, whose populations are dwindling in many parts of their range. For example, Hendricks points to a population in Southeast Alaska that is declining quite drastically. The hybrids may serve as a genetic reservoir, protecting some of the coastal wolves’ distinctive traits.

But while the hybrid wolf population may act as a reservoir, there could be complications if the Alaskan coastal wolves became protected under the United States Endangered Species Act. In that case, wildlife managers in the Pacific Northwest would find themselves charged with managing wolves that share genetic traits with federally protected animals. “The problem is that the Endangered Species Act doesn’t have a lot of language regarding how to deal with hybridization,” says Hendricks.

Hendricks hopes her findings will inspire biologists and policymakers to focus on sorting out the unanswered legal question of what should be done when the ancestor of a hybrid animal is an endangered species, whether these mixed-lineage descendants should be protected as well or left vulnerable to hunting and habitat loss. Either way, she thinks the hybrid wolves’ mixed heritage will be an asset as they continue to reclaim their species’ old haunts across the Pacific Northwest.

Rancher fears for 30 horses left behind near Telegraph Creek as fire rages on

The Alkali Lake and South Stikine River fires have merged, now engulfing almost 300 square kilometres of northwestern B.C. (B.C. Wildfire Service)

Vernon Marion had two hours to prepare to flee when he got the evacuation order to leave his home in Telegraph Creek, B.C., earlier this week as the Alkali Lake wildfire roared closer.

He ran outside, put some of his belongings in a field he thought would be safe from the fire, and tried to protect them with a tarp and water jugs.

“You don’t think properly when something like that’s happening,” he said.

“If you had to do it all over again you’d probably do it differently.”

Vernon Marion of Telegraph Creek, B.C., is concerned about the 30 horses he had to leave behind when he was evacuated from his home as a wildfire approached. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

Neighbours and outfitters have offered to take horse trailers into the area to rescue the animals, but officials told Marion it’s too dangerous.

So now he has to wait and find out what is to become of his ranch and his horses.

“We’ll go down there if we get a break [Friday] and round them up.”

‘We’re resilient’

Yukon Minister of Tourism and member of the Tahltan First Nation Jeanie Dendys was in Telegraph Creek during the evacuation where she and her sister helped people get out of the community.

“Our chief is working non-stop which is what we did during those initial days,” she said.

“There’s so much work to be done, but people are safe and that was what our main focus was.”

Dendys said the Tahltan people are heartbroken over the devastation the wildfire has caused in their region, but she believes the strength of the community will help them overcome the loss.

“We’re resilient,” she said. “The unity that we have among our people will bring us through this.”

Fires merged

Early Thursday, the South Stikine River and Alkali Lake fires merged created a fire covering almost 300 square kilometres.

At a meeting in Dease Lake on Wednesday night, B.C. Wildfire Service incident commander Hugh Murdoch said ground crews and air support are working to protect culturally significant sites and buildings in the area.

From left, Tony Falcao of the B.C. Wildfire Service, Chief Rick McLean of the Tahltan Nation and Hugh Murdoch of the B.C. Wildfire Service update the public on the fire situation on August 8, 2018. (Phillipe Morin/CBC)

“The type of efforts that we’ve been putting forward will continue,” Murdoch said.

A cold front is expected to pass through the area in coming days, and crews are preparing for a potential increase in wind and shift in its direction.

Sudbury police faces backlash after ‘dispatching’ injured bear cub

https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/sudbury-police-faces-backlash-after-dispatching-injured-bear-cub-1.4022677

Molly Frommer talks to Sudbury police about the incident involving an injured bear cub that is drawing outrage on social media.
CTVNews.ca Staff
Published Saturday, July 21, 2018 1:51PM EDT 

The Greater Sudbury Police Service is facing intense criticism after witnesses say two officers shot and killed an injured bear cub without properly assessing whether the animal could be saved.

Local resident Anne Chadwick wrote a post on Thursday about coming across a black bear cub on the highway that had just been hit by a vehicle and abandoned.

She said she and another passing driver helped the bear to the side of the road, where she says it appeared both disoriented and with injuries to its front legs.

They called 911 for help, but she alleges that when two police officers arrived, they didn’t fully assess the cub’s condition but instead retrieved a rifle from their cruiser.

She said she was ordered to stand back while one of the officers repeatedly shot the bear. She said the cub was shot four times before it died.

Chadwick wrote that she was traumatized by watching the animal die in front of her and wondered whether the bear’s life could have been saved.

“He looked well enough that he could have been helped (obviously I’m not a vet and don’t know for certain but neither were those police officers),” she wrote. “At the very least from what I’ve read he should have been tranquilized first.”

Her post has since been shared more than 5,800 times, prompting an outpouring of anger on social media.

The Greater Sudbury Police Service issued its own Facebook post about the incident on Thursday night, saying the officers had no other choice but to euthanize the animal.

“The bear cub was suffering, unable to move and struggling to breathe,” they wrote, adding that the officers “dispatched” the cub in order to end its pain.

The police service said the two officers would not have been able to safely handle or transport the injured animal, and though the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and city animal services were contacted, they were informed that neither agency could come to the scene.

“This is not a situation that any officer wants to be in and the Police Service attempted to find an alternative before the Officers made the decision to dispatch the cub,” the police wrote in their post.

Sudbury District MNRF spokesperson Yolanta Kowalski confirmed that her office did receive a call from the Sudbury police, but said it was “to pick up a dead bear cub from the side of a road.” She said since the ministry isn’t responsible for the removal of dead wildlife, staff advised police to contact the City of Sudbury’s animal control services.

The Greater Sudbury Police Service’s Sgt. Terry Rumford defended the officers’ decision.

“I think we have to remember that these are judgement calls that officers have to make on a moment’s notice. Further, we are not equipped as a police service to transport bears,” he told CTV Northern Ontario.

He added that the police service would be reviewing the incident.

“With these types of incidents where there is community displeasure over certain incidents, we do what is called ‘administration reviews’ and we are in the process of doing that now,” he said.

With a report from CTV Northern Ontario’s Molly Frommer

New group calls for seal and sea lion cull on B.C.’s coast

Some B.C. First Nations and fishermen want the government to establish a new seal hunt on the west coast. As Jill Bennett reports, their reasons for the new hunt are being met with skepticism by opponents.

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Members of the Tsawwassen First Nation are teaming up with commercial and sport-fishers on B.C.’s coast to call on the new federal fisheries minister to allow a West Coast seal and sea lion harvest. The group, called the Pacific Balance Pinnipeds Society, says that growing populations of seals and sea lions endangers future salmon populations.

“If we want to see salmon around for our next generations, we have to go out there and bring that balance to the animal kingdom,” said Thomas Sewid, the director of the newly established society. “To go out, harvest those seals, utilize the whole carcass so the meats are going to markets in Europe and China, the fat is being rendered down for the omega 3s.”

WATCH HERE: Pod of hungry orcas hunt for sea lion between boats


The federal government has banned the cull of seals and sea lions on the West Coast since the 1970s, which still exists on the East Coast. The group is hoping to have a change in policy now that Jonathan Wilkinson, the MP for North Vancouver, is the new fisheries minister.

“I think we are going to see the balance to our oceans and our waters come back in place because of that minister,” said Sewid. “He understands. He has been out sport-fishing. He has seen big fat sea lions tear salmon off his hooks.”

READ MORE: Sea lion pulls young girl into water off Steveston Wharf in Richmond, B.C.

Sea lions are known to be aggressive, not just to animal populations, but towards humans as well. Last May, a sea lion that swam near Steveston Fisherman’s Wharf snagged a little girl by her dress and pulled her into the water. There were multiple Steveston Harbour Authority signs posted at the popular tourist destination warning people not to feed the sea mammals that frequent the area.

But there is some disagreement on how large an effect seals and sea lions actually have on the fish populations.

Scientists at Ocean Wise say their research does not support the idea a harbour seal cull improves the abundance of Chinook salmon in B.C. The scientist describes the fish population as “complex” and that the seal population has recovered from historical culls, and is no longer increasing significantly.

READ MORE: Hunters call for more licences, possible seal cull to combat growing population off N.L.

“Studies show only four per cent of the harbour seal diet is salmon. Herring and hake are their primary prey, with hake making up about 40 per cent of their diet,” said a statement from Ocean Wise. “Hake is actually a big salmon smolt predator, so a seal cull could actually have the opposite of its intended effect: by reducing the number of seals, the abundance of hake would likely increase, resulting in decreased salmon numbers overall.”

We also have a healthy and growing population of transient, or Biggs, killer whales, which eat marine mammals like seals and sea lions. So harbour seals are already being culled very effectively without any human interference at all. Reducing the seal population in the Salish Sea would mean a reduction in food for transient killer whales.

READ MORE: WATCH: Sea lion feeding frenzy on commercial herring catch

Ocean Wise has also found that with an increase in transient killer whales, which eat seals, the population is expected to slowly decline over time.

But Sewid’s group has provided numbers from the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans that show a massive population boom that needs to be controlled. According to those numbers, harbour seals in the Georgia Straight have gone up from 12,500 in 1987 to 45,000 today.

As for sea lions, those same numbers from the population grew on B.C.’s coast from 13,000 in 1984 to 36,140 in 1997.

The populations have slowed since the mid-1990s, and has been relatively stable since. One of the challenges Sewid says in convincing people that the animals should be culled is that they look “cute.”

“They don’t understand that seals and sea lions are eating hundreds of salmon fry when the fry are going out to sea, down the rivers and when the salmon are coming home to spawn, those overpopulations over seals and sea lions are eating all that fish,” said Sewid. “We have to bring that balance on.”

[Sure, like it’s their job. Nature has been the expert on checks and balances since long before humans.]

Province lifts ban on rehabbing orphaned black bear cubs ‘Bears are not an animal that really needs to be feared’

Stephen Hunt · CBC News · Posted: Apr 18, 2018 7:18 PM MT | Last Updated: April 18

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Estimated to be a couple of months old, this black bear was rescued in southern Manitoba after its mother was found dead. Alberta is lifting a ban on rehabilitating orphaned black bear cubs under the age of 12 months. (Manitoba Bear Rehabilitation Centre)

Orphaned black bear cubs have been given a reprieve by a new provincial policy that allows for them to be rehabilitated.

The new policy reverses a ban that’s been on the books since 2010.

Lisa Dahlseide, a wildlife biologist with the Cochrane Ecological Institute, says that ban resulted in the euthanizing of at least 24 black bear cubs, according to data collected from a report released in 2015.

Dahlseide described the change in policy as “wonderful news” in a Wednesday interview on <http://www.cbc.ca/listen/shows/the-homestretch> The Homestretch.

“[The change has been] a long time coming for black bear cubs,” she said. “It really is good news, because no longer will the Alberta government be euthanizing them.”

Instead, orphaned black bears under 12 months of age can be rehabilitated at places like the Cochrane Ecological Institute, or any other wildlife rehabilitation centre across the province that has approved facilities for bear cubs.

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This is a photo of an enclosure where orphaned black bear cubs are rehabilitated, at the Cochrane Ecological Institute. (Lucie Edwardson/CBC News)

The rehabilitation process involves a combination of human interaction, and teaching it how to survive without people involved.

“Generally they come and they’re very small,” Dahlseide said. “They’re still drinking milk, because they’re mammals. And so what happens is it’s very limited exposure with people — they only have one human that interacts with them to give them the bottle. As soon as they are done with bottle feeding, then that human interaction is done with as well.”

Adding water features to enclosures

At the Cochrane Ecological Institute, Dahlseide said orphaned bears stay in large enclosures — ranging from six to 20 acres — which are full of native food, as well as trees and other interactive things to give them exercise and learn to get fed without relying on people.

“There’s a lot that goes into rehabbing them to avoid habituation and food conditioning,” she said.

The institute is currently raising funds, through donations, to add water features to each enclosure, which is part of the requirements for the new government protocol.

“That’s actually a really good thing for the bears,” Dahlseide said. “Hopefully those water features can be stocked with fish, so they can get that experience.”

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The new protocols include the stipulation that each bear enclosure must have a water feature. (Paul Conrad/Associated Press)

Other bears and other species not included

The new policy does not apply to orphaned grizzly bears, which are still euthanized — a policy that Dahlseide says is wrong-headed.

“Science has actually shown there are no known negative human conflicts with grizzly bears, post-relief,” Dahlseide said. “Other places in the world do rehabilitate them successfully — so I’m hoping the provincial government will be considering them and hopefully including them in the bear protocol as well.”

She pointed to the research of naturalist Charlie Russell, who has done extensive studies of grizzlies, Dahlseide said there’s no reason for people to be afraid.

“His research with bears has proven that bears are not an animal that really needs to be feared. If we trust them, they’ll trust us as well.”

‘No evidence, data or science to support those bans’

The list of orphaned animals banned from rehabilitation is not confined to grizzlies, either, Dahlseide said, adding “and again, the province has no evidence, data or science to support those bans. So we want to see that lifted for all species.”

Rallies are planned on Saturday in Calgary and Edmonton, calling for the lifting of the ban on all orphaned animals.

The Calgary rally takes place at Municipal Plaza, next to city hall, between 3 and 7 p.m.

“We wanted to show our support for the grizzly bears, the foxes, coyotes, wolves, bighorn sheep, and elk — the list goes on and on,” Dahlseide said. “All the animals that the province currently doesn’t allow for rehabilitation.”

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/orphan-black-bear-cub-ban-lifted-1.4625460