Saskatoon zoo opening research facility to study orphaned grizzly bears

Bears Mistaya and Koda will help shed light on those in the wild

By Alex Soloducha, CBC News Posted: Apr 25, 2017 4:12 PM CT

The Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park and Zoo is beginning a new partnership with the Foothills Research Institute to start a grizzly bear research program in the city.

The five-year agreement between the two organizations will allow Foothills scientists to use Saskatoon zoo facilities to take part in conservation research on a variety of animals of different species currently housed there, starting with two orphaned grizzly bears.

The Saskatoon Zoo acquired two young grizzly bears in 2006. Mistaya and Koda were both orphaned in Alberta, paired at the Calgary Zoo and later transferred to their permanent home in Saskatoon.

Manager of the Saskatoon zoo, Tim Sinclair-Smith, said the organization is working to make research and conservation a priority.

“We shouldn’t have them here at all if we’re just going to display them,” he said.

Foothills researchers have been working on long-term conservation of grizzly bears in Alberta since 1999.

Their primary objective is to understand how the health of individual grizzly bears is influenced by human activities and changing environmental conditions. The second goal is to examine how that health affects the growth, stability and resilience of grizzly bear populations.

This year, during the bears’ hibernation, management at the zoo was working on making a connection with Foothills.

The City of Saskatoon will pool in-kind resources to create a Wildlife Health Centre, consisting of a laboratory for Foothills researchers. No changes will be done to the structure of the facilities, which are being outfitted with necessary lab equipment.

“For them to build a facility … you’re talking millions and millions of dollars,” Sinclair-Smith said. “This was a great opportunity for them to be able to utilize the data they can gather from these guys and use them for a baseline for all the research that they’re doing with the bears in the wild.”

The Foothills scientists will test samples of hair, feathers and scales picked up through non-invasive sample gathering.

Their research findings will often be communicated directly with zoo visitors.

With files from Charles Hamilton

87% of B.C. Grizzly Deaths Due to Trophy Hunting

Grizzly bear trophy hunt

Eighty-seven per cent of known, human-caused grizzly bear deaths in B.C. are attributable to trophy hunters, who have killed 12,026 grizzly bears since the government began keeping records in 1975, according to data obtained by David Suzuki Foundation.*

In 2016, 274 grizzlies were killed by humans — the vast majority of which (235) were killed by trophy hunters.

B.C. currently sanctions a legal trophy hunt by both resident and foreign hunters. Non-resident hunters killed almost 30 per cent of the grizzlies in the 2016 hunt.

The trophy hunt has become a hot election issue with the NDP and Green Party vowing to end the hunt if elected. An Insights West survey conducted in the fall of 2016 found 91 percent of British Columbians are opposed to trophy hunting.

Meantime, Tweet: The @BCLiberals are the party of choice for international #trophyhunters #bcpoli #bcelxn17 #grizzlyhunt #BanBigMoneythe B.C. Liberals are the party of choice for international trophy hunters — who donated $60,000 to the Guide Outfitters Association of B.C. to help prevent an NDP win.

The Canadian chapter of Safari Club International posted to Facebook: “NDP have vowed to end the Grizzly hunt in BC if elected. SCI chapters from CANADA and the USA banded together donating $60000.00 [sic].”

The Guide Outfitters lobby to continue trophy hunting, which attracts wealthy customers from around the world who pay as much as $20,000 for a hunt. The annual spring bear hunt began April 1.

Source: David Suzuki Foundation

B.C. Premier Christy Clark is a vocal supporter of the trophy hunting industry and a past winner of the Guide Outfitter association’s President’s Award.

B.C. has some of the weakest political donations rules in Canada, which allows anyone (including foreign corporations) to donate unlimited amounts of cash.

The New York Times recently called B.C. the ‘wild west’ of political cash and a Globe and Mail investigation revealed that lobbyists are routinely making political donations under their own names while being reimbursed by corporations — something that is illegal.

The B.C. NDP and B.C. Green Party have vowed to ban corporate and union donations if elected while the B.C. Liberals have promised to appoint a panel to review campaign finance rules if re-elected.

* Article updated to clarify data is based on known, human-caused grizzly bear deaths and does not include natural mortality (most of which is unknown).

TV hunting personality Chris David guilty of breaking Sask. wildlife laws

Jason David, also known as Chris David, had his unlawful kill aired on Wild TV

CBC News Posted: Apr 11, 2017 11:39 AM CT Last Updated: Apr 11, 2017 11:39 AM CT

Former hunting television personality Jason David, also known as Chris David, was recently fined after being found guilty of breaking Saskatchewan wildlife laws.

Former hunting television personality Jason David, also known as Chris David, was recently fined after being found guilty of breaking Saskatchewan wildlife laws. (Facebook)

A television celebrity from Alberta has been fined and suspended for unlawful hunting after a trip to Saskatchewan that aired as an episode on Wild TV.

Jason David, 43, also known as Chris David on shows like The Hunting Chronicles and No Limits TV, came to the Grenfell, Sask., area to shoot white-tailed deer in 2011.

But the visit ended up playing out in the courts after an investigation by wildlife officials.

They found that the deer had been shot in the wrong wildlife management zone and was then unlawfully taken back to Alberta.

David was recently fined $5,600 after a Broadview, Sask., provincial court judge found him guilty on several charges under the Saskatchewan Wildlife Act.

He also received a one-year hunting suspension.

The TV shows also pulled the plug on David’s appearances.

Chris David kill

David, shown here after a successful hunt in northern Alberta in 2010, has been banned from hunting for one year. (Facebook )

Polar bear shot by wildlife officers after being deemed public safety risk

Polar bear shot by wildlife officers near Catalina after being deemed public
safety risk

By Geoff Bartlett,
CBC News
Posted: Apr 10, 2017

.. Newfoundland and Labrador’s Department of
Fisheries and Land Resources says its officers shot and killed a polar on
the Bonavista Peninsula this weekend as a last resort.

The animal was being tracked near the shoreline of Catalina throughout the
day Saturday, after first being spotted earlier in the morning.

The department said officers immediately started following its polar bear
control management policy, which outlines the steps for containing a polar
bear in a community.

The policy puts a priority on capturing the polar bear alive if possible,
and suggests killing the animal only if it is deemed a public safety risk.

Last course of action

According to the department, conservation officers had originally planned to
use a helicopter and tranquillizers to capture the bear alive, but the
helicopter was unable to fly all day due to foggy and windy weather

As they continued to monitor the bear, the animal gradually moved closer to
shore. Officers also set up a baited live trap, and used sirens and noise
repellant to try to scare the bear back out on the sea ice.

After those techniques failed – and the bear continued to move towards
nearby homes and people – officers determined the bear was a public safety
risk and decided to go with the lethal option.

“This decision is the very last course of action to take after all other
options are exhausted and only taken when public safety is immediately at
risk,” the department wrote in a statement.


CBC received several complaints from people upset that the bear was shot.
There was also some debate on social media as to whether the decision to
kill the animal was justified.

Burin bear

Meanwhile, the Department of Fisheries and Land Resources also had to deal
with a report of polar bear sighting on the Burin Peninsula this weekend.

Officers were able to tranquillize the bear in the Parker’s Cove area Sunday
evening, before successfully capturing and relocating it, according to the

Amid some public outrage, conservation officers say killing a polar bear on
the Bonavista Peninsula this weekend was a last resort.

Man charged with selling bear paws, gall bladders in Cache Creek area

November 15, 2016 – 8:00 PM

KAMLOOPS – Nine charges have been laid against a man who is accused of trafficking parts of a dead bear in B.C.’s Interior and Cariboo regions.

Hong Hui Xie, who’s in his 40s, faces charges including trafficking in bear gall bladders, trafficking in bear paws and unlawful possession of dead wildlife.

“Nine counts have… been laid against a 100 Mile House resident for alleged offences that occurred in 100 Mile House and Cache Creek between October 2015 and September 2016,” the B.C. Conservation Officer Service says on its Facebook page.

Court documents show from Oct. 27, 2015 to Jan. 21, 2016, Xie allegedly trafficked in a bear gall bladder, trafficked in bear paws separate from the carcass and trafficked in deer meat while in the 100 Mile House area.

On Sept. 7, 2016, Xie allegedly trafficked in bear paws and gall bladders while in the Cache Creek area.

Xie is not being held in custody and his first court appearance is expected to be in Kamloops Provincial Court later this month.

High cost of big game hunting

Of the couple hundred big game hunts I have embarked upon on this fortunate continent, only about 15 were guided, and most of those were hunts where a guide was required by law (i.e., grizzly bears in British Columbia, Dall and Stone sheep in B.C., the Yukon and Northwest Territories.)

I have nothing against guided hunting trips. However, the current cost of most North American hunting trips has become almost unaffordable. Some hunts almost cause me to swallow my cigar in disbelief!

How about a Stone sheep-hunt? In northern B.C. it runs $43,000. Any additional animals taken require extra costs. For example, a Stone sheep hunt in the Yukon costs $41,500. Add mountain caribou for $6,500, grizzly bear for $8,500, moose for $11,500. That’s $68,000 and you haven’t even bought your plane ticket, bush plane flight, license or paid any tips. I daresay a fellow could spend a month or six weeks in Africa and shoot a dozen animals for about the same cost.

The cheapest Dall sheep hunt I was able to uncover was a 10-day hunt in the Brooks Range of northern Alaska for $16,500. Bear in mind that you have to fly commercially all the way to Anaktuvuk Pass before paying for a bush plane flight into the Brooks Range.

Alaska Range horseback Dall sheep hunts run about $19,000. Go to the Yukon for Dall sheep and the price is $20,500 to $23,500. One outfitter charges an extra $6,000 for a helicopter charter.

I hunted caribou in Alaska four times, only one of those was a guided trip and that cost about $2,000 plus air charter. I shot three good barren ground caribou on those four trips. Today a seven-day guided caribou hunt, two hunters per guide, costs about $7,000. That is for one caribou — not two—as it was when I last hunted caribou in Alaska in 1998.

I went on my one and only mountain goat hunt in B.C. in 1972 and it cost $1,000. Today the price runs from $10,000 to $13,500.

My last northern moose hunt was in Alaska in 2001. I hunted unguided with three partners and managed to shoot a respectable 55-inch bull. One of my partners used his frequent flier miles to buy me a commercial plane ticket. So the hunt cost me little more than my share of the bush plane flight, hunting license and groceries. I don’t think I spent much more than $1,000. Today, a guided moose hunt in Alaska starts at around $18,500. Again, that is just the outfitter’s fee.

My only guided grizzly bear hunt took place in B.C. in 1973. It cost $750. Today grizzly bear hunts run $15,000 to $17,000. Coastal brown bear hunts in Alaska cost $20,000 to $25,000. (I hunted Alaska brown bears three times in the mid-1980s as a resident, and never spent $500 on any single trip.)

One might think that deer and elk hunts in the West might be a comparative bargain. Not so. A guided mule deer hunt in Montana, for example, runs in the $5,000 to $7,000 range. Hunt in Utah with a landowner’s permit (no drawing required) and you are looking at $8,000.

A guided six-day elk hunt in Montana sells for $7,000 to $8,000. A five-day elk hunt in Colorado costs $4,800. Add two days to the hunt and the possibility of taking a mule deer buck, and the charge goes to $7,500.

Guided elk hunts in New Mexico and Utah, utilizing landowner tags, run $9,000 to $13,000 and more.

So you can see that guided hunting for big game in North America has become a high-cost activity. I wish it were not so, and that we could go back to the day when a working man had the ability to save his money and hunt anything in North America. It occurs to me that I did some hunting that a younger man could never do, unless he is making $150,000 a year.

I am glad I was not born any later.

Stone Sheep Photo Coyright Jim Robertson



CBC News Posted: Mar 31, 2017 4:08 PM CT Last Updated: Mar 31, 2017

A South Carolina man has been found guilty of illegally killing a grizzly bear while hunting in Manitoba.

The province’s Sustainable Development Department said the U.S. citizen was ordered Wednesday to pay $10,000 in fines plus $2,000 in court costs.

The grizzly bear was killed in June 2015 in northern Manitoba. DNA testing later confirmed the bear was a grizzly, an animal protected under Manitoba’s Endangered Species and Ecosystems Act.

Conservation investigators were tipped off about the grizzly killing by a member of the public, Sustainable Development said.

Until the late 1800s, grizzly bears roamed across the Prairies, including in Manitoba’s Red River Valley.

The animals have long been considered extinct in the province, but officials say they are slowly making a return in the northern region of the province.

Researchers in Manitoba’s Wapusk National Park have observed grizzlies entering into traditional polar bear habitat.

Parks Canada estimates about 20,000 grizzly bears remain in western Alberta, Yukon, the Northwest Territories and British Columbia.

Grizzly No. 122, ‘The Boss’ of Banff, wakes up from winter hibernation 

By Daniel Katz, Bow Valley Crag & Canyon

The biggest, baddest grizzly in Banff, No. 122, also known as ‘The Boss’, was spotted Wednesday morning wandering the railway tracks near Castle Junction, the first confirmed sighting of a bear in the mountain national parks so far this year.

No. 122 was first seen by a member of the public, who called in the sighting to Parks Canada.

“He’s just in the Castle Junction area, and is feeding on grain along the railway tracks there,” said Steve Michel, human-wildlife conflict specialist with Banff National Park, stating Parks staff verified the sighting after receiving the report.

Mid-March is the time when large male grizzlies come out of their winter hibernation and begin to be active on the landscape in search of their first meals in months.

Believed to be approximately 16 years old, No. 122 is considered to be one of the largest, most dominant grizzlies on the landscape.

Sporting a thick coat of fur grown over the winter, Michel said No. 122’s weight is estimated to be between 400 and 500 pounds currently.

He was last collared from 2012 to 2013, and wildlife officials found that his range covered more than 2,500 square kilometres in Banff, Yoho and Kootenay parks, mostly along highways and railways. Despite being hit by a train many years ago, he continues to use habitats heavily developed by humans to exploit food resources there.

“Because the Bow Valley is a very busy place and there are a lot of humans that occupy this landscape, he’s well-adjusted to humans and human facilities, and he seems to be relatively indifferent to our presence,” said Michel.

Michel added that snow on the ground will likely cause No. 122 to stay close to railway tracks in order to find food sources.

“We expect to see that he will continue with that behaviour for the next few weeks, and then as additional foraging opportunities become available, such as the first green grass starts to emerge, and dandelions and digging roots, any of these vegetation options he will take advantage of,” said Michel. “He certainly will take advantage of any opportunity he can to find carcasses on the landscape, animals that haven’t survived the harsh winter.”

Starting in May No. 122 is expected to roam the landscape in search of females as we get into the spring breeding season, which will dictate most of movements through May and June.

“Because of his size, he is certainly one of the more dominant grizzly bears that we have in the Bow Valley, and he certainly travels through the landscape with a significant amount of confidence,” said Michel.

Since ‘The Boss’ is not currently radio-collared, it is unknown when he first emerged from his den this season.

He has fathered a number of other high-profile bears in the area, based on a limited DNA analysis of five cubs from two different females. That study revealed he was the father of all those five offspring, and it is possible he may have sired many others, says Michel.

He bred with No. 72, a well-known female from the Lake Louise area, which resulted in two offspring, No. 142 and No. 143.

He also sired three cubs with female grizzly No. 64, a high-profile bear from the Banff area. The litter of that coupling resulted in bears No. 144, 148 and 160.

Grizzly No. 144 was the male who was destroyed by Alberta fish and wildlife officers in 2015 for killing sheep and llamas on a farm near Sundre, and No. 148, a female, has been seen on numerous occasions touring between Canmore and Banff. Last summer, a section of the Legacy Trail outside the Banff east gates closed due to No. 148 travelling close to the bike path.

Over the weekend, fresh grizzly tracks were seen on Kananaskis Country Golf Course, indicating bears were starting to wake up in the region.

John Paczkowski, ecologist with Alberta Environment and Parks, says they do not yet have GPS collar data showing that bears are active.

Parks Canada officials in Waterton and Jasper national parks stated that as of Wednesday they have not received reports of any bears on the landscape.

Sows and cubs usually come out of their dens in middle to late May, depending on the weather, because mothers are still nursing their young and spring is a difficult season to find food.

“Typically, it’s the adult males who come out first, and then the females with cubs are last, so it would be over the next month or even more we’ll see them come out depending on the sex and the reproductive status,” said Paczkowski.

With the arrival of warmer weather, Michel says people need start being aware of the fact that bears are waking up.

“People should now be thinking about bears, and they should be thinking about bears around their homes and campsites with respect to managing attractants … garbage, recycling, bird feeders, barbecues, pet food — all that stuff needs to be really secure,” he said. “When people are out enjoying the landscape, whether it’s hiking or snowshoeing or skiing, they need to be thinking about travelling in a group, being bear aware, carrying bear spray with them and making sure their dogs are kept on a leash.”


FISH-NL calls on federal government to reopen seal hunt

March 21, 2017


A sealing vessel moves along the edge of an icefield in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

©TC Media file photo

Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) president Ryan Cleary says there’s no reason why the seal hunt shouldn’t be up and running again by this weekend.

In a news release on Monday evening, FISH-NL called on Ottawa to reopen the harp and hood seal hunt to all harvesters and all fleets in Newfoundland and Labrador by March 25.

The federal government closed the hunt on March 15 to allow time for seal whelping and nursing.

Sealers want to harvest the older seals for their meat and high fat content, but as more times passes, the animals lose their weight, according to the FISH-NL release.

“Word has it that the feds want to wait until after April 10 to reopen the hunt, but that means the sealers — many of whom are fish harvesters — will miss out on precious income, especially with so many fisheries on the downturn,” Cleary said.

Brad Rideout, owner of Phucolax International, a seal operation in Fleur de Lys with dozens of employees, said his business is looking for up to 5,000 animals immediately after March 25.

“Adult seals will still be in great shape then with the best meat and fat content,” Rideout said.

Seal oil is currently selling for $257 a barrel.

A reopening date was not given when the seal hunt was closed on March 15.

Chased by wolf pack while out on dogsled, Labrador man returns to hunt

From prey to predator, Guido Rich hunts down wolves that chased him

By Garrett Barry, CBC News <> Posted: Mar 03, 2017

Guido Rich was chased into town by a pack of wolves while he was out on dogsled this week. He returned with a gun to hunt the animals down. (Submitted by Sherri Wolfrey)

A Labrador man turned from prey to predator this week, when he tracked down and killed a group of wolves that chased him on his dogsled.

Guido Rich hunted the four animals — two on Wednesday night, and two more on Thursday morning — after they chased him back into Rigolet.

‘I don’t think my dogs would have had a chance against four or five wolves.’ – Guido Rich

Rich says he was about 10 kilometres away from town with his dogsled Wednesday night, when he realized what he originally thought was nearby snowmobiles was actually a pack of wolves — and they were headed in his direction.

“I was there bawling at my dogs and trying to get them running fast to get back to town,” he told CBC Radio’s Labrador Morning.

He outran the wolfpack into Rigolet, and went and picked up his friend and their gun. Rich and his friend returned to the trail, and found the pack close to the community.

Wolves hunted

The first two wolves were killed on Wednesday night, after Rich escaped from the pack. (Submitted by Sherri Wolfrey)

That’s when Rich started firing, killing two of the animals and pushing the others into the woods.

The next morning, Rich went out to the trail again to look for the surviving animals, who came too close to his home for comfort.

“I said it’s just as well try to get them instead of running into an encounter with them again,” he explained. “Either drive them away or get them, I figured.”

On Thursday morning, Rich found two more of the animals and killed them.

Lessons learned

The experience gave him a bit of a fright, Rich said. Being alone with his dog sled, and without a gun, he said he worried for what was going to happen to his dogs.

“I don’t think my dogs would have had a chance against four or five wolves,” he said. “I was more afraid for the dogs than myself.”

Rich said he never had a wolf encounter like this before, but now promises he won’t leave town without his gun again.

“I guess it was pretty close to fighting for my life,” he said. “I should have had my gun then, but I wasn’t thinking about wolves.”

With files from Labrador Morning