Wildlife Management: When Forest Wails and Mourns

Photo credit: John E. Marriott

“Just as ships’ bottoms pick up layers of barnacles over time, so, through their lives, human societies and individuals become encrusted with layers of cultural and ideological sediment. … The cemented coating clings as though chemically bonded to me and screams bloody bloody murder at my slightest advance…”~John Livingston

Awar on wildlife in British Columbia never ends; cruelty goes on, unabated. We cannot unshackle ourselves from the self-centered belief system — the thickened layer of barnacles — that destines us to view nature as a resource subordinate to our needs. When, in 1981, John Livingston wrote “Fallacy of Wildlife Conservation”, he cautioned against the fallacy of turning the Earth’s fabric into a “natural resource”. It was echoed by Neil Evernden who recognized that, once deemed a resource, nature inevitably becomes a casualty of reckless exploitation. And this is what has happened. Under the guise of fostering “conservation”, we have concocted a management approach that gives us a license to discard a delicate assembly of life as if it were a lump of coal.

The decades-long tragedy of the caribou habitat is a proof, as good any, of cruelty and travesty inherent to current wildlife management strategies. What strikes the most is how long it has lasted. In the 1970s, a biologist, Michael Bloomfield, showed that the widespread destruction of the habitat by logging and other resource development activities threatened caribou survival. These warnings were never listened to. The B.C. government has allowed for the destruction of the habitat to continue, and the caribou population dwindled from 40,000 in the early 1900s to approximately 15,000 today, all scattered among 54 herds. Thirty of those herds are at risk of extinction and 14 have fewer than 25 individuals.

Photo credit: John E. Marriott

This is the current reality. With impunity grounded in political support — regardless of a party in power — the industrial encroachment fragments the caribou habitat and decimates their food source. Consequently, chances for the survival of the caribou diminish as their habitat shrinks in size. The resilience of nature is no match for greed and political expediency. A cycle of life gets broken. What is worse, the officially sanctioned ecological devastation not only ensures the eventual disappearance of the caribou but sentences to death wolves, cougars, and many other species that depend on the same habitat.

Death comes in many forms, and, for some animals, anguish and agony mark the path. The fate that wolves suffer shows most glaringly the tragedy that befalls nature when the government gives in to demands of the resource-extraction industry. In 2014, the B.C. government, with its Management Plan for the Grey Wolf, authorized the war on wolves. Since 2015, under the guise of caribou conservation, over 700 wolves have been killed. They were trapped, hunted, poisoned to death, gunned down from helicopters. Even more abhorrently, extermination tactics have used “Judas wolves” to find their packs and wipe out all of their members. But this not where the war against the wolf ends. The stated number does not include “wolf whacking” contests that take place in the interior of B.C. — an officially sanctioned bestiality that not only dooms wild animals but debases us, as human beings.

Photo credit: John E. Marriott

And, yet, even this is not enough. Now, the NDP government argues that “landscape scale habitat management is needed to support self-sustaining caribou populations”. It thus proposes a predator hunt legislation that would — in the name of reversing caribou population declines — erase more than 80 percent of the wolf population in parts of the central B.C. In other words, it would get rid of the “surplus” of wolves. To call this wildlife management approach fallacious and unethical is to be greatly euphemistic. The innocuously sounding phrase — “landscape scale habitat management” — camouflages an outright slaughter.

And it is the slaughter compounded by ecological ignorance. Any discussion about maintaining stable wolf populations — an underlying premise behind the predator hunt legislation — defeats its purpose if the exact number of wolves in a habitat remains unknown. As so is the case here. The Management Plan for the Grey Wolf states that the wolf population might be approximately 8,500. In reality, this number can be anywhere between 5,300 and 11,600, since, as the plan admits, estimating the population size is challenging due to the secretive nature of wolves, their extensive range, and the density of forested habitats they inhabit. Moreover, hunting data in B.C. lack reliability. The plan states that there is “considerable uncertainty in the current take of wolves by resident hunters and trappers as B.C. does not have a mandatory reporting system…[and] without more reliable estimates of the harvest, it is difficult to assess the sustainability of BC’s wolf harvest.” This ignorance does not, however, prevent the government, Max Foran states, from accepting “generous hunting quotas, no limit on killing females or pups, no bag-limit zones, long and sometimes open year-round hunting seasons, no license requirement for residents.” This is not management but a “wolf killing plan”, he writes.

Killing that will never stop. The ministry’s scientists claim that “a very extensive effort will be required every year to continue to keep the wolf population low” because of the wolf’s natural resilience and quick recovery. Like stubborn weeds, wolves must be eradicated repeatedly. This malignancy cannot be allowed to grow.

Unfortunately, the cruelty and the bureaucratic cold-heartedness underpinning this statement account for merely a part of its tragic perversity. However inhumane, the perpetual killing of wolves is based on the premise that, following a bout of slaughter, the species is able to recover. Only an unfounded human hubris would allow for such a premise to sustain itself. The so-called “surplus” of wolves is very fragile in the face of climate change, and wolves are vulnerable to the unpredictable ecosystem dynamics. Precariousness and unpredictability are the words that define a broad range of interdependences in the critical caribou habitat. The social-ecological system operates on various scales– some of them observable and some not — and there are tipping points, the crossing of which takes us into a place of no return. After all, we live in the times of a rapid environmental change where the only certain expectation is uncertainty. That is why the “managed” killing of predators is a callous misnomer that is bound to unleash not only savagery but also unknown ecological ramifications.

Photo credit: John E. Marriott

Still, numerical variations in the wolf population, as well as both known and unknown ecological consequences of their repeated slaughter, do not tell the whole story. What remains hidden from all of us, living far away from the land of the wolf, is individual suffering to which, through our political indifference, we implicitly consent. What we do not see is paralyzing anguish, pain, and psychological trauma that comes in the aftermath of the shattered family structure. Death destroys even those who survive. After a killing spree is temporarily over, surviving wolves return to mourn a loss. They also face a world unknown to them. As Marc Bekoff and Sadie Parr write, “those individuals that survive to make new wolf families must do so without access to the knowledge and culture held by their slain family members, something that takes generations to build. They become refugees on their own land.”

Finally, this is not only about the caribou or the wolf, but also about us, humans. Perceiving nature through the prism of its cruel and ignorant management comes at a price that we will have to pay. Destroying wolves destroys us as a society. It diminishes us. Our appreciation of and compassion for the natural world have evolved throughout centuries and molded into moral and ethical principles. We break these principles at our peril.

It is time to start peeling layers of “cultural and ideological” sediment we wrapped ourselves in. The cemented coating that clings to us offers the comfort of familiarity, but it is a false comfort that chips away at our humanity. The main argument for killing wolves in the caribou habitat is ensuring that the caribou will still be there, in the future. So our children and their children can watch them roam the forest. Given the ongoing destruction of the habitat, it will not happen no matter how many wolves we decide to shoot. But even if the demise of the caribou were to be somehow temporarily postponed by the merciless “recovery” plan, what then? Should we tell our children how many generations of wolves we have killed to accomplish this? Should we tell them that they what they see is the legacy of killing fields?

PLEASE TAKE ACTION:

In British Columbia:

  1. Support Pacific Wild campaign “Save BC Wolves” at https://pacificwild.org/campaign/save-bc-wolves/
  2. Support Wolf Awareness campaign at https://www.wolfawareness.org
  3. Support Wildlife Defence League campaign at https://www.wildlifedefenceleague.org/mountain-caribou
  4. Write and Send letters to:

Premier John Horgan — Premier@gov.bc.ca
Minister Doug Donaldson — FLNR.Minister@gov.bc.ca
Darcy Peel — Director, BC Caribou Recovery Program caribou.recovery@gov.bc.ca

Please also help wolves In Ontario:

“The Ford government wants wolves and coyotes to pay the price for declining moose populations in Ontario. By re-opening a proposal abandoned by the previous government after it was outed as being unscientific and unethical, the PCs are trying to liberalize the hunting of both wolves and coyotes across northern Ontario.”

Comment by September 26th at http://earthroots.good.do/wolf/huntingcomment/?fbclid=IwAR08lwxns1Z0hw5tnc_uBZ5M9y6syqKQwWy5u48mkT0S2A1mOBZ6Zz2Pn_0

Fraser, Pitt river seal hunt proposed in Lower Mainland

First Nations say fishing affected, DFO reviewing

There is a growing call for First Nations communities to be able to harvest seals and sea lions along the Fraser and Pitt Rivers for profit.

Thomas Sewid, with the Pacific Balance Pinniped Society, believes that a pinniped harvest is needed in order to save salmon stocks that are being depleted by the animals. Seals, sea lions and walruses, with flippers, are considered pinnipeds.

“Since the 1980s, the seal and sea lion population in British Columbia have exploded,” said Sewid.

“They are just decimating our salmon stocks. And then you factor in the low returns we’re getting this year,” said Sewid, adding that it’s a disaster.

RELATED: Scientists warn of ecosystem consequences for proposed B.C. seal hunt

He would like to see Fisheries and Oceans Canada allow First Nations communities to harvest and sell seal and sea lion products, “to help protect their salmon, sturgeon, trout, steelhead and everything else they are decimating.”

Sewid said that while under the First Nations food, social, ceremonial fishery, many communities have the right to harvest seals and sea lions, they are not allowed to sell the meat, barter it or trade with it.

“What we need is to get licensed,” said Sewid.

Once licensed, Sewid wants to see bands get authorization to close down parts of the river to the public for a certain period to allow hunters in high-visibility vests to remove the seals, although the method by which the seals would be killed hasn’t been confirmed.

“We want people with high-vis vests and radios and cellphone communication to cordon off the area, because First Nations are going to go in and remove the seals and sea lions,” said Sewid.

On Wednesday, hereditary Chief Roy Jones Jr. from the Haida First Nation approached the DFO to demand that they be allowed to sell seal products.

Sewid says there is plenty of interest from industries for seal or sea lion meat, oil, blubber and fur. The oil, he says, can be used in the pharmaceutical industry for lotions and pills for the high Omega 3 content, furs can be used for art and tourism industries, the meat can be used in the pet food industry and, he believes the high-end restaurant market would be interested in the meat as well.

He says it will be a sustainable and viable industry for communities lining the rivers.

Katzie Chief Grace Cunningham says there is an issue with seals impacting the harvest.

“I believe the largest population of seals are obviously in the ocean but when they are in our river they certainly affect our fishing endeavours,” she said.

She says the band has noticed it more in years like this year because of the depleted salmon run.

“We’re not able to get out as often as we would like or need to harvest our own and our fishers have to battle the seals to salvage their catch. The seals literally pull fish out of our nets, half eaten and or simply ruin the flesh,” she continued.

Katzie fisheries manager and councillor Rick Bailey said the issue is how to harvest the animals safely.

“Back in my grandfather’s day they used to just go out with a .22 and shoot them because there was nobody around. They used to get $5 per nose and they would just turn it into the Department of Fisheries in New Westminster and they would pay them in cash and they would go and buy groceries,” he said.

Now, added Bailey, there is too much activity on the river so that shooting the animals is not an option.

He has been trying to design a harpoon that can be safely used like a crossbow.

“Something to do it in a safe and humane way,” he said.

RELATED: Seal attacks kayakers off northern Vancouver Island

Bailey agrees with Sewid that the seal population has exploded.

“When we’re out fishing, we run our boats slow now because of the cost of fuel. You look out the window and the seals are swimming right beside you. Then as soon as you throw your net out they are just patrolling back and forth along the net picking out anything that they can get,” he said.

He compares the situation to a habituated bear. They are not feeding them but whenever they go fishing the seals and sea lions are out there robbing their nets.

Leri Davies with Fisheries and Oceans Canada confirmed that the Pacific Balance Pinniped Society submitted a proposal to commercially hunt pinnipeds under the New and Emerging Fisheries Policy.

Davies said the DFO takes an ecosystem-based approach to fisheries and oceans management to ensure that the best science is reflected, in consideration of the role seals play in a healthy aquatic ecosystem.

Seals and sea lions are an important food source for transient killer whales, also known as Biggs killer whales, Davies said by e-mail. This population of killer whale has been listed as threatened under the Species at Risk Act since 2003, she said.

She did say the DFO is reviewing the Pinniped Society’s proposal that has already resulted in several rounds of feedback. And consultations with academic experts in Canada and the U.S. will be ongoing.

Danny Gerak who runs the Pitt River Lodge, says seals are not the problem for declining salmon populations.

“They have been feeding on the salmon for thousands of years. Before we got here and there were lots of salmon,” said Gerak by email from the lodge.

He says the problem is people who are destroying salmon habitat, over fishing, polluting the rivers and streams, killing the spawning grounds with jet boats, allowing disease from fish farms and sea lice and allowing the Japanese and other countries to fish B.C. sockeye on the high seas.

“They’re the least of our problem,” he said.

Sewid says if the government doesn’t back a seal or sea lion harvest they are going to announce a First Nations cull on the entire coast.

“To hell with government. We’ll let them drag us off to court and we’ll prove, like we always do in Supreme Court that we win the dice roll with a 96 per cent success ratio,” he said.

Dairy calf shot and stabbed with arrows by trespasser in ‘gut-wrenching’ surveillance video

Footage shows man and woman entering the farm in Langley, B.C., and taking the 5-day-old calf away

A man and woman, in this surveillance footage, stand at the far left of the enclosure near the calf at the Langley, B.C., farm. (Eagle Acres Dairy/Facebook)

Brian Anderson walked into his dairy farm last week expecting to see Scorcher, a five-day-old calf he left sleeping in its enclosure the night before.

The calf was gone. In its place were puddles of blood and a broken arrow.

The arrow was apparently used in an attack against the calf that was caught on surveillance footage at Eagles Acres Dairy, a small, family-run farm in Langley, B.C.

RCMP are now investigating.

The footage, which Anderson reviewed shortly after the discovery, shows a man and a woman entering the barn at about 4:45 a.m. PT on Aug. 1.

For eight minutes, Anderson said, the man shot the calf with up to six arrows using a crossbow. When the animal remained alive and standing, the man stabbed it repeatedly with an arrow.

Watch the man approach the enclosure and roll under the gate:

CBC News BC
Surveillance footage shows couple entering dairy farm before calf is killed
00:00 00:38

RCMP say they’re investigating footage from a Metro Vancouver dairy farm that shows a couple attacking and killing a calf. The attack is not shown here in this edited version. 0:38

The man dragged the body out of the farm and placed it in the trunk of a black luxury SUV before driving off with the woman.

“Looking at the video was a gut-wrenching experience,” Anderson said.

“It was disturbing to us even being farmers who understand what death is.”

The calf was five days old when it was attacked. (Submitted by Brian Anderson)

Motive not known

The case garnered attention after Anderson posted stills from the surveillance footage on the farm’s Facebook page.

RCMP Cpl. Holly Largy said investigators reviewed the surveillance video and hope the public can help identify the two trespassers.

The motive for the attack is unclear, she said.

“Potentially they took it for a veal for a restaurant or there could be more sinister type of things that I couldn’t begin to conceive. But I honestly don’t know why they did it.”

Anderson said the male and female trespassers appeared to be Asian and in their mid-to-late 20s or early 30s.

A camera captured the couple driving away, but the licence plate is not visible.

The footage shows the man and woman placing the carcass in the trunk of a luxury SUV and driving off.(Eagle Acres Dairy/Facebook)

The farm, which opened in 1999, offers tours to schools and drop-in visits in a wide, open space.

Anderson installed the cameras to monitor cows giving birth, he said, but the farm remains largely unsecured at night.

“To surround ourselves with a gate and a fence is just not practical,” he said.

A hiker in Canada was approached by a cougar. She blasted Metallica to scare it off

Dee Gallant and Murphy had an exciting run-in during a hike.

(CNN)It’s no secret that Metallica’s music can be kind of intense — so much so, one hiker says, that it scared off a curious cougar on Vancouver Island.

Dee Gallant, 45, was on a hike in South Duncan with her dog, Murphy, on July 23.
She said she was only a few miles into the woods when she turned around and realized that they had company: They were being stalked by a cougar.
At first, she was intrigued; she’d never seen one that close before. But then she realized that the animal was approaching her.
She yelled, and the cougar stopped moving. But it didn’t retreat.
Gallant tried waving her arms and yelling at the cat, saying things like “bad kitty!” and “get out of here!” but the cougar stood its ground.
That is, until Gallant opened her phone and chose the loudest band she could think of: Metallica.
The song: “Don’t Tread On Me.”
It was both a warning and an appeal.
And that, apparently, was what did it. The cougar scurried off after the first few notes, the combination of heavy drums and James Hetfield’s vocals apparently too much to handle.
The incident lasted a total of five minutes, but Gallant said she wasn’t scared.
“I actually thought it was really cool that I got to see a cougar for so long,” she said. “I thought it was exciting.”
Gallant kept the song on loop for the rest of her hike, making sure to stay in the middle of the road and keeping Murphy close.
“I definitely think Metallica saved the day there, for sure,” she said.

This cat was caught in a “body-gripping” trap for 2 days in Metro Vancouver

This cat was caught in a “body-gripping” trap for 2 days in Metro Vancouver

Delta Optimist

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cat injured trap
The Fur-Bearers has renewed its calls for the City of Delta to take action after a family cat by the name of Blu was grievously injured in a foot-hold trap in Ladner. Photograph: Josie Moubert 

A local non-profit animal protection group has renewed its calls for the City of Delta to take action after a family cat was grievously injured in a foot-hold trap in Ladner.

The Fur-Bearers learned that Blu, a three-year-old cat, found its way home with severe damage to a hind leg with dead and dying flesh (necrosis). The veterinarian who is treating Blu noted the injury was the result of a foot-hold or body-gripping trap.

“I’ve had pets my whole life and never experienced anything like this,” said owner Josie Moubert. “Whomever caught Blu released him from the trap, but didn’t call the number on his collar. Our veterinarian suspects that due to the level of rotten flesh, Blu was in the trap for at least two days. Everyone I’ve spoken to about what happened to Blu is disgusted by it. Our family still doesn’t know if he’ll make it.”

cat injured trap
Blu, a three-year-old family pet from Ladner was was grievously injured in a foot-hold trap. – Photograph: Josie Moubert 

Blu’s harrowing experience follows a recent memo from Delta bylaw staff recommending the city not enact a bylaw regarding traps following an incident last month where a raccoon was also caught by a foot-hold trap in the same neighbourhood.

According to The Fur-Bearers, the raccoon was found in the area of 46A Ave., dragging a foot-hold trap for days. The raccoon was emaciated, dehydrated, and had a visibly broken leg. The animal was humanely euthanized by Critter Care Wildlife Society.

“Municipalities in British Columbia cannot rely on the province to appropriately manage all wildlife-related issues, as can be evidenced by several enacting or asking to enact similar trap bans,” said Michael Howie, a spokesperson for The Fur-Bearers. “This trap was likely set within an urban environment, and possibly within sight of a large elementary school. The City of Delta has both the duty to protect their residents from such dangerous behaviour and the authority to enact bylaws related to such under the Community Charter.”

The lengthy response memo from Delta bylaw staff notes trapping in B.C. is regulated by the province under the Wildlife Act and that a variety of trapping methods are allowed, including the use of leg-hold traps. However, there are restrictions, including prohibiting the use of a leg-hold trap within 200 metres of a dwelling. Farmers wanting to stop nuisance wildlife have the same restriction, require written permission of a property owner and traps must be checked every 24 hours.

Farmers typically hire professional trappers if and when required and there are three licensed professional trappers in the city that are utilized by Delta farmers, the memo explains. The memo also states a prohibition on leg-hold traps would be a significant hardship to farmers.

Howie said his group disagrees with bylaws and have sent another letter to Delta urging them to reconsider and review its policies again.

“A bylaw would also create education for local residents who may be trying to catch and/or kill animals on their property,” added Howie. “It’s time to acknowledge that provincial laws have not done the job of protecting people and pets from traps, and that communities are speaking out against their use.”

The Fur-Bearers is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the identification and conviction of the person(s) responsible for setting this trap, should it be proven to be illegal. They are also calling on local landowners who are using legal traps to publicly acknowledge this with signage and communication to nearby residents so that educated decisions can be made.

82-year-old narrowly avoided an $8,000 fine this week for destroying a gull’s nest

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/seagulls-protected-fine-octogenarian-1.5183174

‘I didn’t know that seagulls were protected’: B.C. man escapes fine for destroying gull’s nest

A seagull eats a starfish on Granville Island in Vancouver with the impunity that comes with the knowledge that all gulls are protected under the Migratory Birds Convention Act. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)
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Angelo Mion learned the hard way that a seagull is more than just a flying rat. At least as far as the law is concerned.

The 82-year-old East Vancouver man found himself before a judge for the first time in his life this week after having pleaded guilty to an offence: destroying the nest of a migratory bird.

And so here he was shuffling at the glacial pace that was as fast as his feet could carry him down the aisle of a fifth floor B.C. provincial courtroom to face judgment.

“I didn’t know that seagulls were protected either. I don’t think most people do,” his lawyer told Judge Patrick Doherty.

“He didn’t know he was doing anything wrong.”

Mion’s tangle with the law grew out of the ornithological obsession of a couple whose high-rise condo allowed them a clear view of the rooftop of a low-rise East Vancouver apartment building Mion built in the early 1980s.

The octogenarian doesn’t live in the building, but he still serves as caretaker. And in the summer of 2016, his neighbours took an interest in the birth and hatching of two fledgling gulls.

These fledgling gulls were hatched in a nest on the roof of the CBC’s downtown Vancouver building. It is an offence to destroy a gull’s nest. (CBC)

Crown prosecutor James Billingsley said gull chicks are flightless for five to six weeks. But once they do take to the skies, their nests still serve as a kind of homing beacon.

“It’s how they orient themselves in cases of extreme weather,” the prosecutor said.

One of the neighbours claimed he saw Mion walk onto the roof one July morning and “chase and kick” at the two baby gulls. The birds’ parents screeched and circled in the skies overhead as the neighbour yelled at Mion to stop.

That night, the other half of the couple saw Mion “sweeping the nest into a bucket.”

They called wildlife officials, who showed up at the door of Mion’s home, “but he refused to open it.”

‘These are these common seagulls, right?’

Fast forward to the summer of 2017 and the high-rise neighbours had their eyes on a new nest of gulls. There were three this time.

Then, in mid-August, one of the neighbours came home to find there were none.

“He saw shovel marks,” Billingsley told the judge.

A B.C. provincial court judge gave 82-year-old Angelo Mion an absolute discharge for destroying a seagull’s nest. (David Horemans/CBC)

A wildlife inspector called on Mion again, this time wanting access to the roof for an inspection. Mion told him there was no need, because he had already removed the nest.

“Mr. Mion stated that he was the only one with access to the roof,” Billingsley told the judge.

“And (the officer) should go and get a helicopter because that was the only way (he) would get access to the roof.”

In a distinguished career behind the bench, Doherty has presided over complex cases involving alleged sexual assault in the RCMP, trespassing on Indigenous land and fraud.

This appeared to be the first time he had been asked to consider the rights of a Glaucous-winged gull.

“These are these common seagulls, right?” he asked Billingsley.

“That’s correct,” Billingsley answered. “All gulls are protected under the Migratory Birds Convention Act.”

The rise and fall of the Glaucous-winged gull

According to a 2015 University of British Columbia study, the number of seagulls in the Strait of Georgia, which separates Vancouver Island from the B.C. mainland, has dropped by 50 per cent in the past three decades. Diet is considered a factor in their decline.

They’re known for eating almost anything — hence the “flying rat” reputation — but they historically relied on a marine diet. Apparently french fries, cookies and other scraps picked off the plates of tourists are not an improvement.

Seagulls are as much a part of the B.C. landscape as the Coastal Mountains. And they’re protected – despite fowl bathroom habits. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

Destroying a gull’s nest carries a penalty ranging from $5,000 to $300,000. Billingsley was looking for a fine of $8,000.

But Mion’s lawyer, Ken Westlake, said an absolute discharge would be more appropriate.

Born in Italy in 1937, Mion came to Canada in 1956 with a Grade 5 education. A mason by trade, he worked until the point his body failed him, raising children and grandchildren.

He has prostate cancer and other health issues. Westlake said the gull’s nest was blocking the drain in the apartment building.

‘Absolutely inconceivable’

Mion wore a crisp light check shirt and brown dress pants as he sank into a chair beside his lawyer.

Westlake said the old man was “adamant” that he didn’t touch the nest until the chicks were gone.

And he disputed any suggestion that the neighbours could have seen his infirm client “kick” at anything.

“He walks with some difficulty,” Westlake told the judge. “What (the neighbour) observed and what he believes have nothing to do with what happened.”

After a break to consider the facts, Doherty decided to give Mion an absolute discharge — meaning he won’t have to pay a fine and hopefully will never have to set foot in a court again.

The judge pointed out that ignorance of the law is no defence. But in some circumstances, it can be a mitigating factor.

“It is absolutely inconceivable that he will be caught doing anything wrong again,” the judge said.

Maa-nulth request seal hunt

David Wiwchar

May 28, 2019 07:58 am

Some Nuu-chah-nulth leaders are blaming federal mismanagement of seals and
sea lions for the chinook salmon crisis affecting much of BC’s coast.

Larry Johnson, chair of the Maa-nulth Treaty Society’s fisheries committee,
told Ha-Shilth-Sa Newspaper that they are looking to develop a plan that
brings back a controlled harvest of seals and sea lions.

Johnson said meat from the marine mammals was part of the Nuu-chah-nulth
diet for thousands of years.

He said the pinniped population has exploded since the federal government
prohibited hunting them more than 50 years ago.

First Nations, recreational anglers, and commercial fishers have all urged
DFO to look beyond simple fishing closures, and take a wider ecosystem
approach to restoring dwindling Fraser River chinook stocks.

https://www.933thepeak.com/2019/05/28/maa-nulth-request-seal-hunt/

93.3 The PEAK 3296 Third Ave., Port Alberni BC V9Y4E1

Grey whales free after beaching in Delta, B.C.’s, Boundary Bay

Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Vancouver Aquarium helped get animals free

A photo from the scene on Friday shows several people in the water of Boundary Bay, B.C., near the animals. (David Houston/Facebook)

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It just might be the happiest whale tale since Free Willy: a pair of grey whales stranded on the low-tide mudflats of Boundary Bay in B.C.’s Lower Mainland have escaped.

A rescue effort sprang into action Friday afternoon after the two whales — a mother and a calf — became beached near Centennial Park in Boundary Bay in Delta about a 40 minute drive south of Vancouver.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada led the effort with refloatation devices — large, inflatable airbags to lift the animals up — and a vessel. The Vancouver Aquarium was also on scene to handle any medical setbacks the animals may have suffered.

“It’s absolutely fantastic,” said Martin Haulena, the Vancouver Aquarium’s head veterinarian. “A very, very good ending.”

Haulena said the animals got stuck at approximately 2 p.m. PT. They were freed by about 6:30 p.m.

Fortunately for them, the tide was coming in to help their escape. A cheer rose from about 100 assembled onlookers as the whales began to move freely, flapping their fins.

Watch as the whales begin to right themselves in the rising tide:

CBC News Vancouver at 6
Whales get free in Delta, B.C.
 WATCH

00:00 00:34

After being stranded for much of Friday afternoon, a grey whale and her calf start to right themselves in the rising tide of Boundary Bay. 0:34

Dangerous position

Haulena said Boundary Bay — a wide, shallow bay straddling the Canada-U.S. border — is a place where grey whales could easily get stranded.

He described the animals as bottom feeders: they skim along the ocean floor filtering organisms from the sandy bottom through their mouths. He thinks they were likely foraging when the tide went out and became stuck.

As the tide rolled in the whales began to flap their fins and get free. (CBC)

Once out of the water, he continued, their large bodies put them in danger.

“They were never designed to bear weight,” he explained. “That can compress their lungs. They can’t breathe right. Their circulation gets very altered … it’s a very big deal potentially.”

He added that the whales are not out of the woods yet.

If they were injured too severely by their ordeal, they may still die.

Rash of beachings

Friday’s dramatic scene is one that has been happening all over the west coast of North America this year as an unusual number of grey whales have become stranded and died on their migration from their southern calving waters in Mexico to their northern feeding waters.

Some researchers are pointing to a lack of food as the cause.

Haulena said beachings tend to happen cyclically, with some years being worse than others, but agreed the population may be exhausting its food sources.

B.C. approves 314 cutblocks in caribou critical habitat while negotiating conservation plans

https://www.wildernesscommittee.org/news/bc-approves-314-cutblocks-caribou-critical-habitat-while-negotiating-conservation-plans?fbclid=IwAR3D0B2j-NNhYnw7fc4_Lf3Ydq59jBlKt3mthedEAjwr-oUo1pFJMF9NVhY

Thursday, March 14, 2019

 

Charlotte Dawe

VANCOUVER – B.C. has greenlighted the logging of 314 new cutblocks in the critical habitat of southern mountain caribou across the province in the past four months alone.

The shocking discovery made by the Wilderness Committee is prompting the organization, along with Greenpeace Canada, to call on Catherine McKenna, federal minister of environment and climate change, to issue an emergency order to halt logging of southern mountain caribou critical habitat while negotiations for conservation plans are underway.

“If the province logs what little is left of caribou critical habitat then all this planning will be for nothing,” said Charlotte Dawe, conservation and policy campaigner for the Wilderness Committee. “We need the federal government to step in and protect habitat before it’s all gone.”

Four months ago, negotiations were well underway between the federal and provincial governments and First Nations to create an effective caribou conservation plan. But while in negotiations the B.C. government continued approving cutblocks in critical habitat.

“It’s as if B.C. is holding a clear out sale for logging companies to ‘get it while you can!’ It’s the great caribou con from our very own B.C. government,” said Dawe.

“On the one hand B.C. says it’s protecting caribou while on the other, they’re handing out permits to log habitat as fast as they can. How much more evidence does the federal government need to prove that B.C. is failing to protect caribou?”

McKenna, announced last summer that southern mountain caribou are facing imminent threats to their recovery noting, “immediate intervention is required to allow for eventual recovery.” The announcement came after the functional extinction of two caribou herds in B.C.

The evidence is piling up against the B.C. government’s claim that they are effectively protecting caribou throughout the province.

“If the B.C. government was serious about protecting and recovering caribou throughout the province then they should have rejected these cutblocks,” said Eduardo Sousa, Senior Campaigner for Greenpeace Canada. “Instead, by approving these blocks, they are negotiating conservation agreements in some of these very same areas in bad faith. It’s appalling and we can’t trust them now.”

Almost a year ago the Wilderness Committee revealed 83 cutblocks were approved in the critical habitat of B.C.’s eight most at-risk herds. Logging rates have increased since the finding; in the past four months, 134 new cutblocks have been approved in the same critical habitats.

There are two southern mountain caribou local populations where logging approvals are the highest in core critical habitat — the Telkwa and Chilcotin populations. Both have 13 cutblocks each set to be logged.

–30–

Attached are two maps of approved cutblocks in southern mountain caribou habitat from Oct. 19, 2018, to Feb. 28, 2019:
Map of 314 approved cutblocks in critical habitat across B.C.
Zoomed-in map of Telkwas and Chilcotin local populations with approved cutblocks in critical habitat.

Amid seal and sea lion boom, group calls for hunt on B.C. coast

Quickest way to reverse declining salmon stocks is to introduce a harvest: Pacific Balance Pinnipeds Society

Some fishermen want to see a cull of sea lions and seals which they say are overpopulated on the B.C. coast. (Nic Amaya/CBC)

For the first time in decades, a small-scale seal hunt is taking place on Canada’s West Coast — all in the hopes that it leads to the establishment of a commercial industry to help control booming seal and sea lion populations and protect the region’s fish stocks.

In early November, a group called the Pacific Balance Pinnipeds Society (PBPS) started using First Nations hunting rights as part of a plan to harvest 30 seals. The society plans to test the meat and blubber to see if it’s fit for human consumption and other uses.

“We can look at opening up harvesting and starting a new industry,” said Tom Sewid, the society’s director and a commercial fisherman. “Since the [West Coast] seal cull ended in the 1970s, the population has exploded.”

Sewid, a member of the Kwakwaka’wakw group of Indigenous peoples, points out that the animals have been hunted for thousands of years. Recent decades with little or no hunting have been an anomaly, he said, pointing to research that shows seal numbers are even higher now than in the 1800s.

Out go the nets, in come the sea lions

What’s become an ongoing battle between humans and sea lions played out on a recent nighttime fishing expedition, when Sewid and a crew of commercial fishermen set out in a 24-metre seine boat to fish for herring off the coast of Parksville, B.C.

The crew’s goal was to catch about 100 tonnes of herring, which rise to the surface to feed after dark. But the faint barking of sea lions was soon heard over the thrum of the boat’s diesel engine.

“All them sea lions out there are all happy — [they’re] all yelling, ‘Yahoo, it’s dinner time!'” Sewid said.

Once the crew spotted the herring, they let out hundreds of metres of net, while a smaller boat helped to circle it around the huge mass of fish. The crew then closed the bottom of the net, capturing the herring.

Watch sea lions pillage fishermen’s nets:

CBC News BC
Sea Lions feeding in fishing nets
 WATCH

00:00 00:27

Many Sea Lions are caught in fishing nets, as they try to feed. 0:27

But the catch also provided some uninvited visitors with a captive dinner: Dozens of sea lions jumped over the floats holding up the net and started to gorge.

“These guys, it’s just a buffet for them,” said Sewid, as the bodies of the sea lions glistened in the boat’s floodlights. “Just like pigs at a trough.”

Sewid said the sea lions have learned there’s an easy meal to be had whenever they see or hear the fishing boats.

“They’re not afraid of us. They’ve habituated themselves to seeing that humans and fishing equates easy access to food, which is not right,” he said. “The animal kingdom is not supposed to be like that.”

Restarting a banned hunt

The hunting of seals and sea lions — which are collectively known as pinnipeds — has been banned on the West Coast for more than 40 years. It’s one reason their numbers have exploded along the entire Pacific coastline of North America.

According to one study, the harbour seal population in the Salish Sea is estimated at 80,000 today, up from 8,600 in 1975. The study also says seals and sea lions now eat six times as many chinook salmon as are caught in the region’s commercial and sports fisheries combined.

That adds up to millions of tonnes of commercially valuable fish.

Sewid’s group is proposing to cull current populations of harbour seals and sea lions by half, which would see thousands of the animals killed each year.

Tom Sewid is leading the effort to secure what he calls a sustainable harvest of seals and sea lions along the B.C. coast. (Greg Rasmussen/CBC)

The society’s small-scale “test” harvest is taking place between B.C.’s southern Gulf Islands and as far north as Campbell River, on Vancouver Island. It’s being carried out under the provisions of the Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy, which gives some First Nations harvesting and management rights for food and ceremonial purposes.

Testing the meat to see if it’s safe for human consumption is a first step in a plan to eventually gain permission for what the PBPS envisions as a sustainable, humane commercial hunt, which would largely be carried out by coastal First Nations.

“All the meat that’s in there, you’re looking at the high-end restaurants [that would sell it],” Sewid said. “The hides can also be used.”

Seal blubber is particularly valuable, he said, because it can be rendered down into an oil that’s in demand because of its high Omega-3 fatty acid content.

Watch fishing crew struggle to free sea lions entangled in their nets:

CBC News BC
Sea Lions freed from fishing nets
 WATCH

00:00 00:49

Watch as fishing crew struggles to free sea lions trapped in their nets. 0:49

One of the biggest hurdles facing the group is convincing the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans to open a commercial hunt on the West Coast.

The seal hunt that takes place in the Atlantic and Arctic is controversial, and has long been subject to protests and fierce opposition from animal rights groups. The group expects a West Coast harvest to also face fierce confrontations.

Canadian Inuit have been waging a counter-campaign, highlighting the importance of the animal and the longstanding tradition of their hunt.

Most Canadian seal products are also banned in Europe and a handful of other countries, but the society says demand is strong in Asia.

Supporters and opponents

The PBPS does have a growing list of supporters, including 110 First Nations groups, a number of commercial fishing organizations, and some sectors of B.C.’s economically important sport fishing sector.

However, one key player, the Sport Fishing Institute of B.C., opposes a large commercial hunt, fearing it would generate public outrage and might not achieve the goal of enhancing fish stocks.

The institute’s director, Martin Paish, says the group sees some value in targeting some seals and other fish predators at specific times of year in a number of key river systems; he believes a limited hunt would help protect salmon stocks and boost the billion-dollar-a-year B.C. sport fishing industry.

“Our goal is to use predator control in a careful manner to improve chinook [salmon] production where it is needed,” said Paish.

Carl Walters is a fish biologist and UBC professor who supports cutting B.C.’s population of seals and sea lions by half. (Nic Amaya/CBC)

Fisheries scientist Carl Walters, a professor emeritus with UBC, believes culling the regions sea lions and seals could dramatically boost salmon stocks. He points to numerous studies showing how pinniped populations have been increasing, while salmon numbers have been plummeting.

“They’re killing a really high percentage of the small salmon shortly after they go into the ocean, about half of the coho smolts and a third of the chinooks,” he said.

Advocates of a hunt are also pitching it as a way to help B.C.’s endangered southern resident killer whales, which feed mainly on salmon.

“The thing that would benefit southern resident killer whales is to see improved survival of small chinook salmon — and I think the only way we can achieve that is by reducing seal numbers,” Walters said.

Peter Ross, from the Coastal Ocean Research Institute, says there would be little benefit to salmon from a seal and sea lion cull. (Nic Amaya/CBC)

Others disagree, including Peter Ross, the vice-president of research and executive director of the Coastal Ocean Research Institute.

“Killing of seals and sea lions is not going to have any positive impact for any salmon populations in coastal British Columbia,” he said.

While a few localized populations of salmon might benefit from a cull, Ross said climate change, habitat destruction and overfishing are all bigger factors in the overall decline of stocks.

Other subspecies of orcas, however, feed mainly on seals, so a hunt would reduce their access to prey.

Back on the boat, Sewid concedes a hunt would be controversial — but he firmly believes it’s necessary.

“All the indicators are there,” he said. “It’s time to get the balance back.”

The fishing crew from the Western Investor are shown harvesting herring in November. But they say they are being hampered by dozens of sea lions in their nets almost every night. (Nic Amaya/CBC)