NDP pledge to end grizzly hunt brings debate out of hibernation

By Ezra Black

In 2008, Elk Valley hunter Mario Rocca shot a grizzly bear.

It was the culmination of over two decades of effort. Permits to hunt grizzlies are hard to come by and that year only one was issued for the Elk Valley.

In next May’s provincial election, hunters like Rocca could be setting their sights on New Democrat John Horgan who has promised to end B.C.’s grizzly bear hunt if his party forms the next government.

They’ll be armed with votes and not rifles.

“I know a lot more about bears than the leader of the NDP. I don’t know if he’s ever seen a grizzly bear in the wild,” said Rocca, a past-president of the Fernie Rod and Gun Club. “He’s not a hunter. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about when it comes to wildlife. He’s governed by emotion, not science. From the hunters’ perspective things are being managed. We’re not going to run out of grizzly bears.”

In 2000, the NDP banned the grizzly hunt. In 2001, the Liberals were elected and ended the ban.

Tom Shypitka, the Liberal candidate for East Kootenay, said the New Democrats lost several rural seats in 2001 in part because of their stance on grizzly bear hunting. He said their decision to go for another ban betrays an urban bias.

“My reaction to the NDP’s announcement was astonishment and disappointment,” he said. “They have rural members. They went through this in 2001. They have to know there are enough bears to hunt and that rural people believe in hunting. The only explanation for their decision to ban something that is supported in rural B.C. is that they have written off rural B.C. They must remember. Obviously they don’t care about rural seats.”

Shypitka accused the NDP of making “a wildlife management decision on the basis of emotion, politics and urban bias.”

“Wildlife management decisions should be made on the basis of what the science supports,” he said. “If there are enough bears in a unit to support a hunt, a hunt is allowed. If there are insufficient bears to support a hunt, no hunt is allowed. That is how wildlife should be managed.”

Further left on the political spectrum, Randal Macnair, the NDP’s candidate for East Kootenay, said he’s “always supported science-based wildlife management,” but that the Liberals have got it all wrong.

“I understand why a ban has been proposed,” he said. “It is in large part a result of the appalling mismanagement of wildlife and habitat by the BC Liberals.”

Macnair said that while the Liberals have been touting their environmental management system, the fact remains that grizzly bear populations in the East Kootenay are in trouble.

“Grizzly bears used to roam from Manitoba to Mexico all across western North America,” he said. “B.C. is now their last stronghold and they are no longer living in some areas in the southern portion of our province including the Rocky Mountain Trench. A BC NDP government will work to bring everyone together to protect this special, iconic animal.”

Horgan’s announcement is dividing politicians and hunters but recently published studies suggest the real losers in the Elk Valley are bears.

Corinne Hoetmer, project coordinator for The South Rockies Grizzly Bear Project in the Elk Valley, said that while hunting accounts for a number of grizzly bear deaths a much larger number are killed in other human-bear conflicts.

The South Rockies Grizzly Bear Project is a long term, ongoing population inventory of grizzly bears lead by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations in the Kootenay Region.

Hoetmer said the Elk Valley has become an ecological trap for grizzly bears. The animals are drawn to the valley because of food and are then killed by humans.

“More grizzlies die from non-hunting related causes in this area than anywhere else in B.C.,” she said.

Citing a paper published by Mowatt and Lamb on the population of grizzly bears in the Southern Rockies and Flathead, Hoetmer said the South Rockies grizzly bear population declined by 40 per cent between 2006 and 2014. This decline was most likely due to a decade of poor foraging in combination with an increase in human-caused mortality.

There were 116 grizzly bear mortalities recorded in the South Rockies and 44 in the Flathead during this period.

Of the human-caused mortalities in the South Rockies, 38 per cent were hunter kills, 25 per cent were for animal control and other similar reasons, 28 per cent occurred on highways and railways and 8 per cent were illegal. In the Flathead, 91 per cent of recorded kills were by hunters and 9 per cent were control kills.

“This non-hunting mortality is much more difficult to mitigate than the regulatory changes involved with mitigating mortality due to hunting,” said Hoetmer.

Joe Caravetta, an inspector with the B.C. Conservation Service’s Kootenay-Boundary region, explained the number of grizzly bears hunted in the Elk Valley varies from year to year depending on population estimates.

“There are bears shot in self-defense, there are bears that are shot for protection of property, there are bears killed on the highway and there are bears killed by railways,” he said. “After taking those things into consideration we decide on what the population can handle.”

The Wildlife Act requires certain parts of an animal to be packed out of the bush once it’s been shot. While a hunter may choose to pack out its hide, paws or head, there is no requirement to pack out a grizzly bear’s meat, he said.

Grizzly bear meat is not generally eaten because it can carry the parasite that causes trichinosis, said Caravetta. The number of grizzly hunting permits issued in the Elk Valley is small. From 2013 to 2015, only one was given out.

“It’s probably the most intensely managed hunt in the province,” he said. “It’s the highest profile.”

Calling the practice “primarily a trophy hunt,” Wildsight, a Kootenay-based environmental group, has come out in favour of the ban.

“It is clear that hunting has a significant impact on grizzly bear populations in the region,” said John Bergenske, Wildsight’s conservation director. “Eliminating the hunt should significantly increase grizzly bear survival. Grizzly bears are very slow reproducers, so loss of any females in a population can significantly impact the long-term health of a population.”


Students put pressure on premier to ban trophy hunting of grizzlies


– Victoria News

Students at Glenlyon Norfolk School are trying to ban trophy hunting of grizzly bears in the province.

For more than a year, Marisa Smith, Giulia Giommi and Lily Wieczorek have been researching and sending letters to B.C. Premier Christy Clark, advocating for the provincial government to abolish trophy hunting of grizzly bears.

“The grizzly bear population is really important to the ecosystem. If the grizzly bear population is taken out of the environment, then the entire ecosystem will collapse and become imbalanced,” said Marisa, 13.

“It’s really important and we need to make sure the ecosystem remains balanced…We want to stop some of these issues that are really hurting the environment and that ultimately affects us and all the animals around us.”

According to Pacific Wild, an organization that defends wildlife and its habitat on the Pacific Coast, between 300 and 400 grizzlies are killed every year in B.C. by hunters who want their heads as trophies.

Thirteen-year-old Giulia had the opportunity to see grizzly bears in their natural habitat during a bear watching tour in the summer. As part of the tour, they climbed up a tower and were able to see 12 different grizzly bears going about their business within a few hours.

“We can’t just have a place where there’s some bears alive…all of B.C. should be protected, not just some of it,” Giulia said.

Since then, the group has been spreading the word, telling local politicians about the cause.

In November they met with NDP MLA for Victoria-Swan Lake Rob Fleming, who was in support of the cause, calling the practice outdated and backwards. A few days later, the NDP pledged to ban grizzly bear trophy hunting if they’re elected into office during the next provincial election in May.

“The government has become more and more out of step with its citizens…We could be doing so much better, not just for the bears but for British Columbians who need jobs and who want to promote the wonderful tourism experience that our diverse regions have to offer,” Fleming said, adding the government should be focused on promoting bear watching tours, not killing them.

“This is another group of students who are doing amazing things in our community and learning and becoming experts on issues that our province has to tackle. It’s always great to see students learning essentially to become effective advocates and researchers on public policy.”

The girls remain optimistic they’ll be able to set up a face-to-face meeting with the premier to advocate for their cause. In the meantime, they plan on meeting with other NPD MLAs and doing a speech about the ban to the NDP caucus in the new year.

The advocacy is part of the school’s United Conservationists Environmental Club, which meets twice a week to discuss a number of environmental issues. Groups are also working on helping tigers, penguins and sharks.

Canada: We must do better for our animals

by Anna Pippus

Special to The Globe and Mail

Published Wednesday, Dec. 07, 2016 5:00AM EST

Last updated Wednesday, Dec. 07, 2016 10:53AM EST

Anna Pippus is a Vancouver-based lawyer and director of farmed animal
advocacy at Animal Justice

Earlier this year, 95 per cent of Canadians said
.html> it is important to ensure farmed animals are treated humanely, even
if it costs more. This is quite possibly the one issue we can actually agree
on <http://angusreid.org/canada-values/> . Although most Canadians eat
animals, we are united in having no appetite for animal suffering.

Animal transport regulations, in particular, have been a political
battleground for animal welfare advocates and the meat industry.

While the government does not regulate farm conditions – choosing instead to
finance and endorse industry-created codes of practice – it does get
involved in regulating transport and slaughter because of the food safety
and interprovincial trade dimensions.

If the government is going to do something, we want them to do it

But Canada’s transport regulations have been criticized
ns-farmed-animals-suffer-die/> as the worst in the Western world, lagging
behind the transport welfare laws of the European Union, Australia, New
Zealand and the United States.

Transportation is incredibly stressful. For animals that have never left the
controlled conditions of indoor modern farms, being crowded into a truck
with strangers, deprived of food and water for long periods of time, and
exposed to extreme weather is one of the worst ordeals of their abbreviated

It is so stressful, in fact, that millions of animals do not survive the
journey to the slaughterhouse. Dropping dead during transportation is so
common that law enforcement will not even investigate a truck of chickens
from an egg farm, for example, unless at least 4 per cent
<http://humanefood.ca/maple_lodge.html> are dead on arrival.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency this week published much-anticipated
amendments to the Health of Animals Regulations after more than a decade of
lobbying from animal welfare advocates, humane societies, veterinarians,
animal lawyers and other experts in animal protection.

The proposed regulations are disappointing, barely improving some key areas
and entirely failing to address others. A CFIA statement
<http://www.gazette.gc.ca/rp-pr/p1/2016/2016-12-03/html/reg2-eng.php> says
98 per cent of shipments are already compliant with the new regulations – in
other words, not much is changing.

For example, exposure to extreme weather is a major source of stress, injury
and mortality. Animals are shipped <http://humanefood.ca/maple_lodge.html>
every day of the year, regardless of weather, which means that in open-sided
trucks they are directly exposed to that day’s precipitation, temperature,
wind and humidity at top highway speeds.

Yet the proposed regulations simply reword the old weather exposure
provision, retaining wishy-washy language that would, in practice, mean
animals will continue to be <http://humanefood.ca/maple_lodge.html>
transported in inadequate trucks every day regardless of weather.

There is no reason we cannot require common-sense technological improvements
and accountability for non-compliance, following in the footsteps of the
European Union. There, vehicles are required to have forced air and heating
ventilation systems that keep trucks between five and 30 degrees Celsius.
Monitoring systems must alert the driver when temperatures reach either
limit, and the data from these systems must be accessible to law

Moreover, Canada’s proposed new regulations would continue to allow animals
to be transported without access to food, water or rest for inexcusably long
periods of time, despite this being a main source of international concern.

On-board watering systems – a simple retrofit – would not be required. Pigs
and horses could be in transit for up to 28 hours; cows for up to 36 hours;
and chickens for up to 24 hours.

The proposed regulations fall short: They would not prohibit animals from
being held by their legs or thrown, even though this is a common – and
g-of-Poultry.pdf> – practice in the chicken transport industry; animals
would be overcrowded because specific, measurable, evidence-based loading
densities have not been included, as they are
ns-farmed-animals-suffer-die/> in the European Union; they are silent on
the issue of using bolt cutters to cut off animals’ nerve-filled teeth to
the gum line, a common animal management technique (yes, really
<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3aOXp7KzPo> ); they would permit the use
of electric prods to shock
anadian-plates> injured or fearful animals to move; and driving and
transport company training and licensing requirements would remain
ineffectively weak.

Fortunately, it is not too late for the government to get its act together –
there’s a 75 day comment period
28> before these bleak regulations become law. Let’s hope they will hear
the 95 per cent of us who want to shed the dubious honour of having the
worst animal transportation standards in the Western world.

NDP leader takes aim at B.C. grizzly bear trophy hunt


B.C. NDP Leader John Horgan has tackled one of the most divisive wildlife issues in the province by promising his government will end the trophy grizzly bear hunt if elected next spring.

Hoping to win broad support for a policy that may be a hard sell in rural ridings, Mr. Horgan is proposing to make it illegal to kill a grizzly for its head and hide, but legal to shoot one for its meat.

“It’s not about being opposed to hunting. It’s about being opposed to the grizzly bear trophy hunt and only the grizzly bear trophy hunt,” Mr. Horgan said at a press conference on Thursday.

Related: Cormorant Island visit for two grizzly bears comes to an end

Related: Have we reached peak wilderness? A new report says yes

He acknowledged that if hunting grizzly bears for food is allowed, trophy hunting might continue, because people might be able to get around the ban by taking the bear meat home.

But he said regulations could make such abuse unlikely.

The New Democrats banned grizzly hunting when they were in government in 2000, but lost support in rural ridings. The Liberals swept to power in the 2001 election and ended the ban.

Mr. Horgan said he thinks a carefully crafted ban on the trophy hunt would have wide support, including among hunters.

“The people of British Columbia are opposed to the trophy hunt of grizzly bears. That’s been made abundantly clear in poll after poll after poll,” he said. “I believe as we go into the next election, it’s important the people of British Columbia know that New Democrats stand against the hunting of grizzly bears for trophies.”

But Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson rejected the NDP plan, saying it is not workable and is not based on wildlife science.

“The problem with this is it’s the NDP trying to be all things to all people. I’m not sure how they manage a process where they call for a ban on trophy hunting and then continue to allow hunting [for meat],” he said. “It’s kind of a hollow promise. In reality, there will be many opportunities for the hunt to continue.”

He said the Liberals would continue to allow trophy hunting in areas where the bear population is healthy.

Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver said the NDP did not support him when he proposed legislation to restrict the trophy hunt by requiring all hunters to carry out the meat when they kill a bear.

“I’m grateful they’ve copied what I’ve done, but where were they when I brought in that private members bill two years ago?” he asked.

Mr. Weaver said if his bill had been adopted, it would have effectively ended the trophy hunt, because few people are interested in grizzly bear meat.

Jesse Zeman, a program manager of the B.C. Wildlife Federation, said hunters who shoot grizzly bears for food should be allowed to continue.

“It’s good,” he said of bear meat.

He said the BCWF, which represents about 50,000 hunters and anglers, supports requiring hunters to retain the meat of animals they shoot.

Ian McAllister, executive director of the conservation group Pacific Wild, called the NDP proposal “a step in the right direction” because it targets trophy hunting.

But he said allowing bears to be hunted for their meat is a mistake.

“We think this is just a loophole to continue the trophy hunt under the guise of food hunting,” he said.

Scott Ellis, executive director of the Guide Outfitters Association of B.C., said the NDP approach is not based on scientific wildlife management.

“We’re disgusted when politics gets [priority] over science,” he said.

Mr. Ellis’s organization represents hunting guides, many of whom offer a trophy grizzly hunt for about $14,000.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said the NDP is doing the right thing.

“It is barbaric just to shoot an animal for its head,” he said.

B.C. has an estimated 15,000 grizzly bears. Hunters kill about 250 a year.

Joe Foy, a director of the Wilderness Committee, praised the NDP policy, saying thousands of bears have been shot since the Liberals lifted the hunting ban.

Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, All Rights Reserved

Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, All Rights Reserved

Bear Viewing 12 Times More Beneficial For Economy Than Hunting

Why Does B.C. Still Kill Grizzlies for Sport?

In early October a provincial government news release landed in the inboxes of reporters and researchers around B.C.

It boasted of a new government-commissioned report that concluded B.C. has “a high level of rigour and adequate safeguards in place to ensure the long-term stability of grizzly populations.”

Even though the report was less glowing than the news release and noted there are monitoring difficulties and a lack of funding, the review gave the BC Liberals the ammunition they needed to conclude the controversial practice of hunting grizzlies for sport is just fine.

But, here’s the thing: even if the province’s estimates of 15,000 grizzly bears in B.C. is correct — and it is a figure disputed by independent biologists, some of whom believe the number is as low as 6,000 — the stand-off over hunting intelligent animals for sport isn’t about the science. It’s about values and ethics.

The ethical argument is clear. Gratuitous killing for recreation and amusement is unethical and immoral,” says Chris Genovali, executive director of Raincoast Conservation Foundation, one of the organizations fighting to stop the trophy hunt, which takes the lives of about 300 grizzly bears in B.C each year.

This is a moral issue. This is about ethics and values,” reiterated Val Murray of Justice for B.C. Grizzlies, an organization hoping to make the grizzly hunt an issue in the upcoming provincial election.

After more than 30 years as a teacher, if a child in the classroom was deliberately hurting animals, he would be immediately referred for counselling before the behaviour escalated into anything else, but people go out and just kill these bears,” she said.

Dramatic pictures of grizzlies fishing for salmon bring tourists from all over the world to “Super, Natural B.C.”

But those tourists rarely see the gut-churning videos of a grizzly being shot, attempting to run for his life and then being shot again — a sequence included in the new film “Trophy” produced by LUSH Fresh Handmade Cosmetics.


Yet, Premier Christy Clark and the BC Liberals show no sign of changing course and, in a parting shot, one of the most energetic supporters of the hunt, retiring Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett told Vaughn Palmer on Voice of B.C. that parts of the province have too many grizzly bears and they need to be shot.

It is a view that is increasingly out-of-step with the majority of British Columbians and in direct opposition to the views of Coastal First Nations who have banned trophy hunting in their territory.

Following a trend set by previous polls, an October 2015 Insights West poll found that 91 per cent of British Columbians oppose hunting animals for sport. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 per cent.

Look at who we are as a people and a nation and where we are headed,” environmental activist Vicky Husband urged the Grizzly Bear Foundation board of inquiry in Victoria.

We are past the time to stop grizzly hunting. It’s not ethically right,” she told the three-person panel headed by philanthropist Michael Audain.

In addition to holding public hearings, the panel is talking to First Nations, scientists, hunters, guide outfitters and conservation organizations and will use the information it garners to set up conservation, research and education programs.

The group, which is looking at the effects of climate change, urbanization, loss of habitat, accidents and food availability as well as the hunt, is writing a report that will be handed to government in February.

Another report headed government’s way this spring is from Auditor General Carol Bellringer, who is looking at whether the province is “meeting its objective of ensuring healthy grizzly bear populations throughout B.C.”

The government claims its decisions are science-based and points to the new scientific review, but the Audain panel was cautioned to take the report with a grain of salt

This was a government report, commissioned by government, for government. It was not peer-reviewed,” warned professional forester Anthony Britneff.

Government estimates of the number of grizzly bears are based on models, but Melanie Clapham, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Victoria, who has researched grizzlies for a decade, cautioned that more research is needed.

Models are only as good as the numbers you put in to them,” she said.

A 2012 study by Stanford University in conjunction with the Center for Responsible Travel found that bear viewing groups in the Great Bear Rainforest generated “more than 12 times more in visitor spending than bear hunting.”

But there is increasing concern that the two activities cannot co-exist.

Grizzly bears are a passion for Dean Wyatt, owner of Knight Inlet Lodge, and he takes pride in showing tourists the bears feeding on salmon and berries near his lodge.

But, even though Wyatt wants more British Columbians to understand the vital role grizzlies play in the environment, most of his guests are from overseas because he has found from bitter experience that advertising in B.C. is dangerous for the bears.

I would love to have more British Columbians, but the ones that come first are the hunters, so we don’t market very much in B.C.,” he told the Audain panel.

If we put something in the paper, immediately the hunters show up to see if the bears are there. The hunters are there in their boats 24 hours later. It’s horrible,” Wyatt said.


Will no politicians stand up for grizzlies?

by Judith Lavoie

  • November 7

While most citizens oppose the bear trophy hunt, BC’s politicians seem reluctant to offend hunters.


IT’S AN INCREASINGLY POPULAR CAUSE that, in BC’s politically sensitive, pre-election months, should have the two major political parties tripping over each other in an effort to adopt it as their own.
Instead, provincial Liberals are literally sticking to their guns in support of the controversial grizzly bear trophy hunt while the NDP has not yet settled on a position.
Polls have consistently shown that British Columbians dislike trophy hunting, a blood sport that sees foreign hunters paying upwards of $16,000 for the chance to shoot a grizzly bear for the sake of a head on the wall or a furry rug on the floor.
An October 2015 Insights West poll found that 91 percent of British Columbians and 84 percent of Albertans oppose hunting animals for sport. The margin of error for BC is plus or minus 3.1 percent.
But, so far, with the exception of the BC Green Party, those numbers are not enough to spark political support. Instead, a proliferation of diverse non-profit groups are taking up the challenge to protect the grizzly, which has been listed as a species of special concern by the federal Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.
Organizations such as Raincoast Conservation Foundation and Pacific Wild have approached the hunt from a scientific perspective for decades, while the newly-formed Justice for BC Grizzlies is appealing to would-be politicians to look at the ethics of killing for sport. Nine area First Nations, who comprise the Coastal First Nations, want to end the commercial grizzly hunt in their traditional territories and, together with Raincoast, have been buying up hunting tenures in the Great Bear Rainforest to reduce the threat to the bears.
Another unusual approach is being taken by the fledgling Grizzly Bear Foundation, headed by philanthropist Michael Audain. The Foundation has launched a board of inquiry, holding meetings around the province, looking at threats such as habitat loss, food supply and climate change as well as hunting. The panel will submit a report to government by February.
For those who are uncertain how to get involved, the University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Centre, on behalf of the David Suzuki Foundation, has prepared a legal toolkit “Facilitating Public Participation in Grizzly Bear Hunt Management in BC.” The toolkit first addresses the question: Why are grizzly bears important? Grizzly bears, it asserts, “are a vital ecological, cultural and economic resource in BC. They are apex predators that interact with other plant and animal species in their habitats and their population health is therefore a key indicator of the overall ecosystem’s health.”
Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics is the latest business organization to become involved and will be launching a campaign this November at its 240 stores around North America. Lush is also producing a 30-minute documentary on the hunt. “I think people will be appalled that, in BC, trophy hunting of grizzly bears is still happening,” said Carleen Pickard, Lush ethical campaigns specialist.
Meanwhile, Auditor General Carol Bellringer is looking at whether the government is “meeting its objective of ensuring healthy grizzly bear populations throughout BC.” Bellringer’s report is due this spring, but it is not known whether it will be released before the May election.
While the Liberal government is showing no sign of changing course, the NDP is having internal discussions.
“A couple of caucus meetings are coming up. Stay tuned…We know this is important and it’s on our radar,” said NDP Environment spokesman George Heyman.


Back in the dying days of the last NDP government, in 2001, a three-year moratorium was imposed on the grizzly bear hunt. Immediately after the election, however, it was almost immediately rescinded by Gordon Campbell’s Liberals when they swept to power.
Martyn Brown, Campbell’s chief of staff in 2001, said he believes the moratorium was probably lifted by ministerial order, rather than after any in-depth discussion or cabinet debate, and was likely the result of pressure from rural MLAs, many of whom were ardent pro-hunters.
“It certainly wasn’t something that was a broad discussion that I can recall,” said Brown, who suspects the issue got lost in the many policy decisions and budget cuts made immediately after the Liberals came to power.
Brown believes the grizzly hunt should no longer be ignored and he wants to see trophy hunting banned throughout the province, for grizzly bears and all other species.
“It’s [because of] uncertainty about the management of the population and principally the ethical concerns,” he said. “Precious animals and wildlife are being taken for nothing but a trophy. They are not being taken for food or ceremonial purposes, they are simply for people’s self-aggrandizement and whatever twisted, distorted satisfaction they get from killing an animal,” he said.
Brown is surprised the NDP are silent as he believes they have little to lose by coming out against the hunt. “If they really thought about it I think they would realize there’s a very small percentage of seats that might be at risk, if any,” he said. “The risks are so minimal and the rewards would be so much greater if they would just stand up and say and do the right thing and say this is a barbaric, out-dated hunt that needs to be stopped,” Brown said.
Premier Christy Clark would also have little to lose by restoring the moratorium, Brown said. “But I don’t think the BC Liberals are even slightly interested in revisiting their position because of the likes of [Energy and Mines Minister] Bill Bennett particularly and others from rural BC who are defenders of the trophy hunt ostensibly for its economic value and its importance to rural lifestyle,” he said.

More: http://www.focusonvictoria.ca/novdec2016/will-no-politicians-stand-up-for-grizzlies-by-judith-lavoie-r12/

Trump win threatens Porcupine caribou herd, says Yukon MP


‘The Republicans have always wanted to have drilling’ in calving grounds, Larry Bagnell says

CBC News <http://www.cbc.ca/news/cbc-news-online-news-staff-list-1.1294364> Posted: Nov 10, 2016 1:42 PM CT Last Updated: Nov 10, 2016 1:52 PM CT

The Porcupine herd is one of the largest migratory barren ground caribou herds in North America. Its range stretches from Alaska to Yukon. <http://i.cbc.ca/1.3320779.1447685936%21/fileImage/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/16x9_620/porcupine-caribou.jpg>

The Porcupine herd is one of the largest migratory barren ground caribou herds in North America. Its range stretches from Alaska to Yukon. (Meagan Deuling/CBC)

Yukon MP Larry Bagnell believes Donald Trump’s victory does not bode well for one of the last thriving caribou herds in the North — the Porcupine caribou.

Bagnell says Trump’s winning the U.S. presidency, along with Republican victories in the Senate and Congress, will make protecting the herd’s calving grounds in Alaska from oil drilling “difficult.”

“The Republicans have always wanted to have drilling there, which would upset the life cycle of the herd,” Bagnell said.

The Porcupine herd is one of the largest migratory barren ground caribou herds in North America. Its range stretches from Alaska’s North Slope into northern Yukon. The size of the herd fluctuates but the last population estimate, from 2013, put the herd at about 197,000 animals.

Larry Bagnell <http://i.cbc.ca/1.3844691.1478742946%21/fileImage/httpImage/image.JPG_gen/derivatives/original_300/larry-bagnell.JPG>

Yukon MP Larry Bagnell says the new U.S. administration is going to make efforts to protect the Porcupine herd ‘difficult.’ (Cheryl Kawaja/CBC)

Many Indigenous people in Alaska and Yukon rely on the herd for food, and have lobbied for decades to ensure the herd’s calving grounds in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) are protected from development. The area is rich in untapped oil.

President George W. Bush pushed to open the area to development, and Alaskan senator Lisa Murkowski introduced a bill last year that would have permitted oil production in the refuge.

President Barack Obama, however, sought to expand the protected area <http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/barack-obama-to-seek-protecting-alaska-arctic-refuge-from-drilling-1.2931246> .

Bagnell says now that Republicans will control the agenda in Washington, “it’s going to make that more challenging.”

Conserving Moose… or Not


Canadian Blog

by Barry Kent MacKay,
Senior Program Associate

Conserving Moose… or Not 11/10/16

Moose© Henry Schimke

North America’s moose population extends from Alaska to the East Coast, through boreal and mountain forests. Throughout much of that range, the species is in decline. Where I live, in Ontario, the population has declined by 20% in just the past 10 years.

There are now about 92,000 moose spread over a vast region. In Minnesota, moose are nearly gone from the northwest and are less than half of their earlier numbers in the northeast. In other places, they are either in decline, holding steady, or—in a few instances—increasing.

98,000 people want to hunt moose in Ontario… which outnumbers the moose!

The threats to moose are vast, including a suite of problems associated with global climate change—which is increasingly evident as you move north. Pressure from all manner of incursions, including forestry practices, mining, roads, recreational use, and so on, can reduce the ability of moose to survive.

But, most of these threats to moose directly benefit human short-term interests. So does hunting, for a vocal minority. And, hunters don’t want to stop hunting (although, of all of the immediate threats to moose, not shooting them is the easiest step that could be taken).

I understand that hunters don’t care, but not that they still claim to be “conservationists.” Of course, if they want to keep killing a species that’s in decline, they are no such thing.

That includes First Nations hunters who, exercising treaty rights, can kill any moose they wish to, without even having to report the numbers. However, when Ontario Environment Commissioner Diane Saxe recently published her first annual report with a section entitled “Ontario’s Moose Population Under Threat,” it was too much for moose hunter Rob Learn. He points to the number of collisions between moose and cars to explain that there are plenty of moose, and that the limit placed on how many can be killed by non-First Nations’ hunters guarantees species survival. He makes the valid point that the determination of how many moose there “should” be, as decided by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, is not entirely objective.

And then, there are the natural predators—mainly wolves and bears—who are scapegoated as a cause for moose declines. Killing, as always, becomes the solution.

Here’s a thought; don’t kill them. There’s a long list of North American wildlife species, from northern cod, to passenger pigeons, to bison, to Carolina parakeets, that plummeted from numerous to suddenly rare—even extinct—because the killing didn’t stop in time. We have time.

There are three times more Ontario government employees in Ontario than there are moose. Within their ranks lies the means to save these animals. Let’s start by stopping the killing. It might not happen… but it should.

David Suzuki: It’s time to end the grizzly bear trophy hunt


by David Suzuki on March 10th, 2015

Watching grizzly bears catch and eat salmon as they swim upstream to spawn is an unforgettable experience. Many people love to view the wild drama. Some record it with photos or video. But a few want to kill the iconic animals—not to eat, just to put their heads on a wall or coats on a floor.

The spring grizzly kill starts April 1 and extends for several weeks, followed by a second fall season. By year’s end, several hundred will have died at the hands of humans, close to 90 percent shot by trophy hunters—many of them foreign licence-holders, as the B.C. government plans to enact new regulations to allow hunters from outside B.C. to take 40 percent of grizzlies slated for killing. The government also plans to allow foreign interests and corporations to buy and run guide-outfitting territories previously run only by B.C. residents. Local hunting organizations say the new rules put them at a disadvantage.

According to the Vancouver Observer, hunting guide associations donated $84,800 to B.C. political parties from 2005 to 2013, 84 percent to the B.C. Liberals.

In the controversy over regulatory changes, we’ve lost touch with the fact that the grizzly trophy hunt is horrific, regardless of whether bears are killed by resident hunters or big-game hunters who pay thousands of dollars for the chance to kill a bear here—often because it’s illegal in their home countries.

Grizzlies once roamed much of North America, from Mexico to the Yukon and from the West Coast through the prairies. Habitat loss and overhunting have since shrunk their range by more than half. In Canada, 16 subgroups are on the brink of extinction, including nine in south-central B.C. and Alberta’s entire grizzly population.

Just how many bears reside in B.C. is in dispute. The government claims more than 15,000 grizzlies live here, but Raincoast Conservation Foundation science director Chris Darimont, a University of Victoria conservation biologist, puts the number closer to the government’s earlier estimate of 6,600—before it doubled that in 1990 based on a single study in southeastern B.C.’s Flathead area.

According to a Maclean’s article, in 2000, the government “suppressed the work of one of its own biologists, Dionys de Leeuw, for suggesting the hunt was excessive and could be pushing the bears to extinction. De Leeuw was later suspended without pay for having pursued the line of inquiry.” The government then pursued a five-year legal battle with groups including Raincoast Conservation and Ecojustice to keep its grizzly kill data sealed.

Allan Thornton, president of the British Environmental Investigation Agency, which has studied B.C. grizzly management since the late 1990s, is blunt about the government’s justification. “The British Columbia wildlife department does not use rigorous science,” he told the Vancouver Observer. In 2004, the European Union banned imports of all B.C. grizzly parts into member countries after its analysis found the hunt to be unsustainable.

Even the economic case is shaky. Studies by the Centre for Responsible Travel and Raincoast Conservation conclude revenue from bear-viewing is far higher than revenue from grizzly hunting.

Grizzly population health is an indicator of overall ecosystem health, and bears are important to functioning ecosystems. They help regulate prey such as deer and elk, maintain forest health by dispersing seeds and aerating soil as they dig for food, and fertilize coastal forests by dragging salmon carcasses into the woods. Hunting isn’t the only threat. Habitat loss, decreasing salmon runs, collisions with vehicles and other conflicts with humans also endanger grizzlies. Because they have low reproduction rates, they’re highly susceptible to population decline. Hunting is one threat we can easily control.

According to polls, almost 90 per cent of B.C. residents oppose hunting grizzlies for trophies, including many Frist Nations and food hunters. Scientists say it’s unsustainable. The Coastal First Nations coalition has banned grizzly hunting in its territories, but the government doesn’t recognize the ban. The Raincoast Conservation Foundation has bought hunting licences in an attempt to reduce bear kills on the coast.

Simply put, most British Columbians—and Canadians—are against the grizzly trophy hunt. It’s time for the government to listen to the majority rather than industry donors and ban this barbaric and unsustainable practice.

Written with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Senior Editor Ian Hanington. Learn more at www.davidsuzuki.org.

Showing Mercy to Suffering Animals Is Not ‘Criminal Mischief’

Anita Krajnc gives water to pigs in Toronto on their way to slaughter.
by Matthew Scully November 7, 2016, Issue
A Canadian woman finds herself in court for giving water to thirsty pigs bound for a slaughterhouse. Depressed about large and momentous events beyond our control, perhaps we had best think of humbler matters in which, at least, the decisions are ours alone to make. If that’s your state of mind in the fall of 2016, I’ve got just the news story for you. A morality tale out of Ontario, Canada, it’s known locally as the “thirsty pigs” case and presents choices that are, in their way, momentous enough. In a court of justice, a 49-year-old woman named Anita Krajnc stands accused of criminal mischief. Her offense, as alleged by complainants and provincial authorities, was to give water to pigs bound for a nearby abattoir. It was a hot day in June of last year. A trailer hauling 180 or so of the animals had stopped at an intersection. Seeing the pigs looking out through the vents, panting and foaming at the mouth, the defendant let them lap water from a plastic bottle, provoking this videotaped confrontation related by the Washington Post: At that moment, the truck driver emerged in protest. “Don’t give them anything!” he shouted, his own camera phone in hand. “Do not put anything in there!” “Jesus said, ‘If they are thirsty, give them water,’” she yelled back. “No, you know what?” he shouted. “These are not humans, you dumb frickin’ broad! Hello!” The driver, Jeffrey Veldjesgraaf, called police and eventually continued on with his doomed cargo down Harvester Road to the suitably named Fearmans slaughterhouse (what pig shouldn’t fear man’s slaughterhouse?). The next day Eric Van Boekel, owner of Van Boekel Hog Farms, pressed charges for what he regards as an interference with his livelihood and property: a case of tampering with the food supply and nothing more. Anita Krajnc, moreover, didn’t just happen to be at that intersection. She leads a group called Toronto Pig Save. Part of its mission is to offer water to pigs and other farm animals in their final moments. In the way of mass-confinement farming these days, that ride to Fearmans affords their very first glimpse of the world and their very last. Often these journeys are hundreds of miles, the pigs crowded into trucks for as long as 36 hours with no food, water, or rest. Krajnc is there to “bear witness,” that they might go to their deaths having encountered at least one human face that wasn’t glaring indifferently at them, felt one touch of human kindness. Viewing the woman as incorrigible, Van Boeckel decided this was his chance to put an end to it. Meanwhile, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, representing hog farmers, informs members that “our coordinated action plan has been established” in case the controversy gets out of hand. “Developments in the case and associated actions by interested parties are being monitored very closely,” and “we sincerely hope the court continues to focus on the specific issue at hand.” They are understandably wary of any inquiry extending beyond the property-interference question, wishing to steer as far clear as possible of a public moral debate, to say nothing of a religious debate, about the mistreatment of farm animals in general and about Krajnc’s last-hour benefactions in particular. Allow the spirit of the Comforter and Good Shepherd at the end of the creatures’ lives, and attentive men and women will start to wonder where it was all along. Not good for business when people get too unearthly about these things. Save your prayers for grace over the meal. For her part, the dumb frickin’ broad with the water says that she was “just following the Golden Rule,” understood as applying wherever human empathy can reach. She explained in court that she prefers the word “intervening” to “interfering,” since whatever the law says about Van Boekel’s property, she was simply living out her Christian obligation of compassion for animals, thereby serving the public good. It was an act of mercy, and in what kind of enterprise is it forbidden to be merciful? I was thirsty and you gave me drink. Nothing in the ring of those words to encourage help for an afflicted fellow creature? Do humans alone know thirst? The reputations of revered saints instruct us in gentleness toward animals, along with firm admonitions in Scripture and felony-level penalties recognizing, toward some creatures, anyway, an obligation of justice. So to Krajnc’s supporters it seems unfair that she should be the one compelled to explain herself, facing imprisonment for being merciful, while Van Boekel, who shows nothing of that quality, steps into court like some aggrieved pillar of the community. Change.org, petitioning for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s attention to the case before a verdict comes next month, frames the matter this way: “What is wrong with our legal system, when attempting to alleviate the suffering of another being is seen as criminal, and those who are inflicting the pain and cruelty are left unchallenged?” A satisfactory answer from the prime minister would top his viral-video performance back in April, when he explained quantum computing to a dazzled audience of reporters and academics. Merely addressing the problem of factory farming at all would show a truly searching mind at work. How often do liberals who lay blame for the world’s ills on the greed of other people, or conservatives on the weak will of other people, ever question their own habits and appetites, or consider how a change in these might help to avoid vast animal suffering? In neither case do we see the moral idealism of serious people at their best, and liberals in particular receive far more credit than is merited for thinking and caring about animal causes. So it would be nice if Canada’s progressive prime minister set a helpful example. Should he answer the question put to him by Change.org, it is a challenge of mental prowess less theoretical than quantum theory, and the test of truth is consistency. For instance, it was pointed out in Krajnc’s trial that if the court had the same basic set of facts, replacing only the word “pig” with “dog,” the weight of law would shift instantly in favor of the defendant, even though dogs also fall rather uneasily into the category of legal property. A conscientious person, seeing a trapped, desperate, overheated dog, would be expected to offer relief, and in some places, parts of Canada included, the law encourages exactly that. What would we do? And why should we care in the least what the owner thinks, when the creature is clearly suffering from deliberate or reckless neglect? Social norms basically say that dogs are awesome and pigs are worthless. Provably, however, pigs are every bit the equals of dogs in their intelligence, emotional depth, and capacities for suffering and happiness alike. Though badly maligned, pigs are really quite impressive and endearing when they are not being tortured, terrified, scalded alive (as often happens), and dismembered amid the bedlam of places like Van Boekel’s factory farm and Fearmans’s abattoir. In countries where dogs are mostly appreciated, admired, and loved, while unseen pigs are killed by the hundreds of thousands every day, people need to pretend there’s some subtle yet all-important moral difference between abusing one and abusing the other, or eating one and eating the other. And it falls to guileless souls like Anita Krajnc to remind them it’s all just made up. Charge her with a lack of sophistication, being too naïve to play along with convenient cultural distinctions that have no basis in reality. Indeed, we can easily imagine a Chinese or Korean version of the story, a “thirsty dogs case” in which some Golden Rule do-gooder dares to offer a merciful bit of water to one of the millions of dogs ensnared in the canine meat trade — complete with a driver shouting “These are not humans! Hello!” and a seller insisting that she take her damn hands off his food animals. Dogs in China, South Korea, and elsewhere are subjected to devilish torments; as with our farm animals, thirst is the least of their miseries. Call up a few pictures on the Internet if you can bear reminding of how utterly depraved some people are toward animals. And then try explaining why that meat trade is needless, selfish, and hard-hearted but ours is not. If anything, the dog butchers and their customers may be credited with greater consistency, being unselective in their inhumanity toward animals. Wait on the day when all such scenes are in our past, finally left behind in what Wayne Pacelle calls the “humane economy” (in a powerful book by that name). For every product of human cruelty, human creativity will offer something better, as it does already with an abundance of far healthier substitutes for meat. We will need no witnesses like Anita Krajnc to gentler, saner ways, because the slaughterhouses will be gone. The little acts of mercy will lead to great ones; the ruthless instead of the kindly will be counted disturbers of the peace. You can take that on the authority, as well, of Charles Krauthammer, a man educated in Canada, who observed recently on Fox News that “in a hundred years people are going to judge us as a civilization that killed wantonly and ate animals. There’s going to be a time when we’re not going to need to do that. And they’re going to end up judging their ancestors, meaning us, harshly for having been that wanton and that cruel.” Or, you can take it from Anita, this gracious person whose real offense is to see what we are not supposed to notice, and to say what the world both dismisses as foolish and knows to be true. “When someone is suffering,” she told the Post, “it’s actually wrong to look away. We all have a duty to be present and try to help. In the history of the world, that’s how social movements progress.” – Mr. Scully, a former literary editor of National Review and senior speechwriter to President George W. Bush, is the author of Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy. Read more at: https://www.nationalreview.com/magazine/2016-11-07-0000/

Read more at: https://www.nationalreview.com/magazine/2016-11-07-0000/