6,000 grizzly bears left–End the Transport of Canadian Animal Hunting ‘Trophies’

Petitioning Calin Rovinescu, Gregg Saretsky

End the Transport of Canadian Animal Hunting ‘Trophies’

Petition by Pacific Wild

 Air Canada and WestJet have banned the transport of big game out of Africa, but continue to allow the transport of Canadian animal ‘trophies’, such as black bears, grizzly bears, polar bears and wolves.

Sign and share this petition to tell Air Canada and WestJet they should be taking a stand against trophy hunting in their own backyard.

On August 4, Air Canada and WestJet banned the shipment of big game trophies after the brutal killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe in early July drew international attention and sparked a media outcry.

What about in our own backyard?

British Columbia is one of the last refuges of the grizzly bear, which once roamed widely across North America. Though listed as a species of special concern by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, the province still allows a Limited Entry Hunt for grizzly bear trophy hunters twice a year.

Despite a recognized need for protection, independent biologists indicate B.C.’s grizzly population has fallen from 35,000 bears in 1915 to as low as 6,000 today. Still, trophy hunters shoot between 300 and 400 grizzlies each year, and Air Canada and West Jet kindly ship the trophies home.

In 2004, the European Union banned imports of all B.C. grizzly parts into member countries after its analysis found the BC grizzly bear hunt to be unsustainable.

A recent study by the Centre for Responsible Travel finds bear viewing in B.C.’s Great Bear Rainforest generates far more economic value than bear hunting. According to this study, visitors spent 12 times more on bear viewing than on bear hunting in British Columbia.

Ironically, the very businesses that benefit from tourist travel are undermining it!

Beyond the evidence, 90% of British Columbians simply do not support the trophy hunt including all Coastal First Nations.

In the absence of provincial leadership, we are all doing what we can to stop the trophy hunt. It’s time for Air Canada and West Jet to do their part at home.

Join us in:

a) acknowledging Air Canada CEO, Calin Rovinescu and WestJet CEO, Gregg Saretsky for taking these important first steps to oppose the trophy hunt; and

b) calling on them to take a stand against this brutal and inhumane ‘sport’ in their own backyard by refusing to transport grizzly, black bears, and wolves from their natural habitat.

Until the provincial government of British Columbia bans trophy hunting, it’s up to us to make it as difficult as possible.

Please sign and share this message to help #banthetrophy hunt, one step at a time.

Opinion: Cecil the lion and compassionate conservation



The senseless killing of Cecil the lion has catalyzed a worldwide discussion about the gratuitous trophy hunting of large carnivores.

In Western Canada, countless Cecils are killed in an equally senseless manner each year for the amusement, pleasure, and excitement of recreational hunters.

From the unrestrained killing of wolves in British Columbia and Alberta to the persistence of the insupportable B.C. grizzly bear hunt, large carnivores are persecuted in Western Canada by way of an anachronistic approach to wildlife management that relies on suffering and death as its primary tool. The chief purveyors and ideological proponents of this faulty and antiquated model are government ministries responsible for wildlife management and trophy hunting special interest groups. Moreover, they are rapidly falling out of favour with much of society as their excesses and biases steadily become more widely known. Clearly, the time has come for a different way of managing wildlife.

Dr. Marc Bekoff, one of the foremost proponents and thinkers in the evolving field of compassionate conservation, writes that “Compassionate conservation — in which the guiding principle ‘First do no harm’ stresses the importance of individual nonhuman animals — is gaining increasing global attention because most animals need considerably more protection than they are currently receiving and many people can no longer justify or stomach harming and killing animals in the name of conservation.”

Too often conservation and wildlife management primarily focus on the maintenance of population numbers. We forget wild populations are formed by of individuals that can suffer stress and pain, which we deem unacceptable for companion animals that share our homes and those we farm to eat. Although suffering is a feature of a wild life, the human-induced suffering caused by sport hunting and lethal predator control, such as the B.C. and Alberta wolf culls, is not.

In Western Canada, thousands of large carnivores are killed annually under the guise of conservation and wildlife management. The recreational hunting of wolves, grizzly bears, black bears, and cougars is done for the most trivial of motivations such as “bagging a trophy.” In addition, hundreds more of these animals are tyrannized every year in the name of predator control, as large carnivores become scapegoats for the decline of other animals from marmots to mountain caribou.

Humans intrude, degrade, and destroy large carnivore habitat, including restricting access to or depleting their food, in our relentless pursuit of resource development, economic gain, and even recreational activity. In doing so, top predators are deprived of the requisites they need to survive, and then are slain when they become “problem” animals as a result of their search for sustenance.

Large carnivores are demonized in books, films, and television programs, as our society clings to malevolent myths that have no basis in reality, but are instead phantasmagoric products of our own deep-seated fears and paranoia about the “other.”

We diminish the lives of large carnivores by relegating them to the status of unthinking and unfeeling beasts, fostering our bloated sense of entitlement and misguided belief in human exceptionalism. We hold the balance of power in our relationship with wildlife and typically wield that power with downright ruthlessness, motivated by a parsimonious self-interest that continues to be informed by superstition, hubris, and indulgence.

Bekoff summarizes the goals of compassionate conservation and the challenges we face in fundamentally changing our current relationship with wildlife thusly: “Striving to live peacefully with other animals with whom we share space, and into whose homes we’ve moved, is part of the process of re-wilding our hearts, and coming to appreciate other animals for whom they are and for what they want and need in our troubled world, to live in peace and safety.”

Ultimately, how we relate to wolves, bears, lions, and other carnivores is determined by the social values and mores of the culture we inhabit. Increasingly, we are realizing our treatment of large predators is a test of how likely we are to achieve co-existence with the natural elements that sustain us.

It is encouraging that growing public sensitivity to the trophy hunting of large predators is exposing blood-sport adherents to intense scrutiny. Much of society is beginning to identify the wanton killing of wildlife for fun and entertainment as an unacceptable deviancy by which so-called trophy animals are sacrificed for the perverse gratification of trophy hunters.

Perhaps there will come a day when the stubborn allegiance of many trophy hunters, government biologists, and opportunistic politicians to lethal exploitation and management is understood to tell us less about the exigencies of wildlife conservation and more about the psychological pathology of people.

Chris Genovali is executive director for Raincoast Conservation Foundation. Dr. Paul Paquet is Raincoast’s senior scientist.

Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2015. All Rights Reserved

Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2015. All Rights Reserved

Arctic Drilling Is Not Just Wrong—It’s Crazy!


Saturday we participated in a Sea Shepherd volunteer garbage clean-up at Cannon Beach, a stretch of the Oregon coast noted for its nesting pelagic birds on scenic Haystack Rock. Haystack is one of the few sites on Earth where you can see fledgling murres, pigeon guillemots, puffins and cormorants, etc. take their first flights without intruding on some remote, fragile location like the arctic

Being the birthplace of so many vast flocks of seabirds, the arctic is supposed to be remote, but now, because of climate change, the Arctic Ocean is becoming more and more accessible to people most of whom have nothing but bad intent, like those at Shell Oil, who’s planning to drill for oil in the Arctic’s Chukchi Sea in a matter of days. In 1980, before most scientists even understood about global warming, Canadian naturalist John Livingston wrote a book, Arctic Oil: the Destruction of the North? about the risks to wildlife and nature inherent in drilling for oil in such an environment.

From Arctic Oil, “In winter, vast flocks of murres from the arctic islands drift south on prevailing currents to waters off Newfoundland, where they find themselves on or adjacent to major shipping lanes between North America and Europe. The concentration of murres often coincides with the concentration of oil. If a bird’s wings are oiled, they cannot fly, and if food is not immediately available, it will starve. Or, if its body is even slightly oiled, its feathers will lose their insulating properties and the bird will succumb to exposure in icy waters. Some birds, on the other hand, do make it to shore, where they attempt to preen their feathers clean. These will often die of starvation before they can take to the air again, or will perish from the toxicity of the oil swallowed during the preening process.

“It is impossible to know how many murres, eider ducks and other sea birds have been destroyed in this way over the years.”

In one spill off the British coastline, “160 kilometers had been oiled; it was estimated later that 25,000 sea birds died. It was a good ten years before the local biological system appeared to have healed.

“The record of accidental spills is cause not for mere concern but for raw fear. Oil tankers have become very large and numerous. At more or less regular intervals one of them cracks up.

“There seems no option but to expect that there will be more such events as super-tanker traffic intensifies on the high seas of the world. Year-round shipping, under all conditions, is being seriously proposed for the Northwest Passage. Accidents are wholly unpredictable as to timing and location, but entirely predictable in a sense of probability.

And on drilling Livingston writes, “In the high arctic islands, unfortunately, and in the Beaufort Sea and the Mackenzie Delta there are zones of ‘abnormally high’ geostatic pressure, which of course heightens the possibility of accident…The first such event in the Canadian arctic…took two weeks to shut off the gushing gas [natural—mostly methane.] A month later the well blew out of control again; this time it could not beDeepwater-Horizon-CDVIDS shut down until more than a year after the initial explosion. During that time it lost gas at the rate of 85,000 cubic meters per day. Five months after the Drake Point well blew out, another Pan Arctic well, this time on King Christian Island, went out. This one lost gas at about 2.8 million cubic meters per day, and, unlike the Drake Point gas jet, this one was on fire. The gigantic flame was finally extinguished three months later.

“Leaving to one side for the moment the sheer mechanical difficulty of dealing with a blow-out under the ice, or on the sea floor, or on the permafrost, the possible consequences for wildlife such as sea birds, even on the open arctic water, are hair-raising. (Of course a blow-out of Campeche massiveness would not be required; a much lesser spill, or even the accumulated effect of ‘normal’ leakage, could create havoc in the high arctic waters.)

“The critical question seems to be this: in certain knowledge of the undeniable risk, is the risk worth taking?”

Drilling for oil in the arctic is not just dead wrong, as Al Gore recently stated, “It’s crazy!” And he wasn’t even talking about global warming at the time.


B.C. cub case is unbearably stupid

Naomi Lakritz, Calgary Herald
More from Naomi Lakritz, Calgary Herald

July 10, 2015 | Last Updated: July 10, 2015 3:00 AM MDT

Black bear cubs Athena and Jordan look on from their enclosure at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Association in Errington, B.C. CHAD HIPOLITO / THE CANADIAN PRESS

How strange to be a conservation officer and then risk getting punished for doing your job and conserving things.

B.C. conservation officer Bryce Casavant has been suspended with pay pending an investigation into why he let a couple of black bear cubs live. The eight-week-old cubs lost their mother, who was killed because she’d repeatedly been foraging in a freezer of fish and meat at a Port Hardy mobile home.

Casavant refused to kill the cubs, who were in a tree at the site, calling for their mother. Instead, he tranquillized them, and took them to a veterinarian, from where they were sent to a wildlife recovery centre.

Casavant did the right thing. He should be reinstated immediately. The argument that at eight weeks, these babies were already habituated to human food, and thus likely to grow up to be problem bears, is nonsense, based on studies of how bear cubs develop.

According to bearrehabilitation.org: “Sally Maughan, founder of Idaho Black Bear Rehab, Inc. has recorded extensive notes on cub development over her rehabilitation career. In general, the infant stage ranges from birth to eight weeks old. In that time, the eyes and ears open, teeth erupt, and exploration and wobble walking begin. Between eight to 12 weeks, cubs seem to pass through the bear equivalent of the terrible twos. There are swift emotional changes from calm to biting, attacking, scratching, and crying tantrums. At four to seven months old cubs are at the age of destruction and social learning as they roughhouse with siblings and other orphans. From eight months to dispersion, peace breaks out as the cubs mature and ceaselessly learn about their environment.”

In other words, the B.C. cubs didn’t have a clue what their mother was doing and they shouldn’t be punished with death for simply tagging along. It’s not like mom could get a babysitter for them while she went grocery shopping.

As Angelika Langen, co-founder of the Smithers-based Northern Lights Wildlife Society, told the media: “It’s just ridiculous. There is absolutely no scientific proof that cubs that follow their mothers for (human) food at this age have learned anything. When they’re little like this, they’re just following mom; they’re not learning yet. When they’re more than one year, it’s a totally different story.”

Chris Doyle, acting deputy chief of the Conservation Officer Service, told the media in Victoria that the Port Hardy cubs “had some level of habituation and food conditioning.” Doyle should know better than that. Casavant certainly did.

Thousands of people have signed a petition online lauding Casavant and insisting he be reinstated. I don’t think it’s just because bear cubs are cute and fuzzy. I think it’s because, as in the case of the cougar that was fatally shot last year as it peacefully sunned itself on the lawn of Calgary’s South Health Campus, people are sick and tired of the senseless and unnecessary deaths of wildlife.

A lot of people didn’t buy the official explanation that cleared the cougar shooting as a matter of public safety after some initial bumbling with tranquillizer guns. The cougar was bothering no one.

Of such incidents that make the news, one of the few that was handled properly — that is, no animal was needlessly killed — was the case of the Scenic Acres moose. When a mother moose and her twin calves turned up in a ravine in the northwest Calgary community in May, and failed to leave after a few weeks, officials tranquillized the mother, rounded up the calves, and moved the family far away out of the city.

Casavant should go back to work — he is obviously a highly competent, caring and humane individual — and the cubs should be cared for at the rehab centre until they can be released into the wild. The focus should always be on finding ways to let wildlife live, rather than killing them.

Naomi Lakritz is a Herald columnist.


Petitioning Ministry of Environment, Canada

Petitioning Ministry of Environment Mary Polak

Reinstate conservation officer Bryce Casavant


Conservation Officer Bryce Casavant has been suspended without pay pending a performance investigation after he refused to put down two bear cubs this weekend.

These baby bears, a brother and sister, were orphaned after their mother had to be destroyed after she had, at least twice, broken into a freezer of salmon and deer meat inside a mobile home on Hardy Bay Road, “through no fault of the owner.” “Although it is unlikely the mother was in town due to the fire, it is hard to know,” said Casavant.

On July 5, Casavant and members of the Port Hardy Fire Department literally pulled out all stops to rescue the babies who had come back to the property and were up a tree calling for their mother.

“They (firefighters) had their high-angle rescue specialist scale the tree and rappel down on top of the bears to lower them to me. I then tranquilized them by hand,” said Casavant.

The babies were estimated to be about eight weeks and weigh 20 to 25 pounds, are healthy and still nursing.

Please sign this petition to show your support to have Bryce Casavant reinstated as conservation officer to the North Island.

Letter to
Ministry of Environment Mary Polak
Reinstate conservation officer Bryce Casavant


 Wednesday, July 8, 2015 8:00PM PDT

A B.C. conservation officer suspended without pay for not euthanizing two five-month-old bear cubs is back on the payroll following widespread public outrage.

The province’s Government and Service Employees’ Union confirmed Wednesday that Bryce Casavant is being paid once again, but the officer remains suspended pending the outcome of a government investigation into the incident.

The reversal came after a petition supporting Casavant started circulating online, gathering nearly 50,000 signatures. Actor Ricky Gervais also brought the incident into the international spotlight with a tweet Tuesday evening.

“Bryce Casavant, conservation officer, suspended for refusing to kill bear cubs,” wrote Gervais, who has more than 9 million followers. “Reinstate this honourable man.”

Casavant was suspended for his response to an incident on Vancouver Island over the weekend, when the cubs’ mother was caught eating salmon from a freezer at a property near Port Hardy.

The sow was destroyed, but Casavant refused an order to euthanize its young cubs.

On Wednesday, the Conservation Officer Service held a press conference to stress that the decision to euthanize wildlife is never taken lightly.

“It’s always a very difficult situation. It’s a situation that no conservation officer wants to be in,” said Chris Doyle, acting deputy for provincial operations.

“Obviously the preference is to keep the bears alive and wild and to prevent conflicts from happening in the first place.”

Doyle said senior Ministry of Environment staff, biologists and wildlife veterinarians together determine how to deal with orphan cubs using a number of assessment tools, including the animals’ health, the level of habituation, and the level of food conditioning.

Doyle said he couldn’t provide any details on Casavant’s suspension, including who was responsible or what the reasons were, but said there were concerns the bears he saved could have been a problem.

“The initial information is that the bears were exposed to conflict, they had some level of habituation and food conditioning,” he said.

“We’re investigating the circumstances of that situation and all the actions that took place and I’m not going to comment further on the personnel issue.”

Rather than kill the cubs, Casavant brought them to the North Island Wildlife Recovery Association, a rehabilitation facility that regularly takes in bears and releases them back into the wild.

On Tuesday, the facility’s founder Robin Campbell defended Casavant and called his suspension “unbelievable.”

“He’s a family guy and they suspend him without pay,” he said.

The rescued cubs show no apparent signs of habituation and could be released next summer, Campbell added.

Doyle said the public can help prevent conservation officers from having to kill bears and other wildlife by being responsible and managing the garbage and other attractants on their properties.

For more information on reducing conflict being humans and wildlife, visit the Wild Safe B.C. website.

B.C. conservation officer suspended for refusing to put down bear cubs

Bryce Casavant, a Vancouver Island conservation officer has been suspended without pay, pending a performance investigation for refusing to put down a pair of bear cubs near Port Hardy last weekend.


A B.C. Conservation officer has been suspended without pay after he reportedly refused an order to put down two bear cubs last weekend.

The cubs were orphaned after their mother was killed for breaking into a meat freezer inside a mobile home in Port Hardy on Vancouver Island.

After tranquilizing the cubs, Bryce Casavant brought them to a vet to be checked out and then to the North Island Wildlife Recovery Association operated by Robin Campbell.

Campbell says the bears, believed to be around eight weeks old, were at the home only because they were looking for their mother.

An online petition has been launched by the association calling on B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak to reinstate Casavant.

The petition had collected well over 17,000 names by early Wednesday.

North Island Wildlife Awareness

Conservation Officer Bryce Casavant has been suspended without pay pending a performance investigation after he refused to put down two bear cubs this weekend.
These baby bears, a brother and sister, were orphaned after their mother had to be destroyed after she had, at least twice, broken into a freezer of salmon and deer meat inside a mobile home on Hardy Bay Road, “through no fault of the owner.”
“Although it is unlikely the mother was in town due to the fire, it is hard to know,” said Casavant.
On July 5, Casavant and members of the Port Hardy Fire Department literally pulled out all stops to rescue the babies who had come back to the property and were up a tree calling for their mother.
“They (firefighters) had their high-angle rescue specialist scale the tree and rappel down on top of the bears to lower them to me. I then tranquilized them by hand,” said Casavant.
The babies were estimated to be about eight weeks and weigh 20 to 25 pounds, are healthy and still nursing.

They did nothing wrong and the order to destroy them came came in even before we had the little things out of the tree. I’m not sure how a decision can be made so quickly based on so little information from so far away. -Justin Reusch Port Hardy Fire Department.

Please sign this petition to show your support to have Bryce Casavant reinstated as conservation officer to the North Island.

Hunting Show Too ‘Politically Incorrect’ For Canadian TV


Ammoland recently published a story on the Beaseley brothers’ hunting show Canada in the Rough, which airs in 27 countries but can’t find a television station or broadcaster willing to air it in Canada.

According to Ammoland, Canada In The Rough “ran on Global TV for eight years until the day Keith Beasley received a telephone call from a Global network executive telling him that the network would no longer sell him airtime for Canada in the Rough.”

And Keith Beasley claims the reason behind the cancellation is simple: “Canada in the Rough shows hunting and firearms ownership in a positive light.”

The Beasley brothers said:

It had nothing to do with ratings, and it had nothing to do with what we were. It had everything to do with our content. Our content was guns and hunting. And just like that, the Canadian hunting landscape changed on a dime, and we’ve never recovered from it.

Ammoland paraphrased the Global TV rationale: “Hunting is politically incorrect [and the network no longer] had the courage to continue televising this Canadian outdoor heritage activity.”

So, programs that show hunting as a conservation and subsistence practice, which are the things hunting ultimately boils down to, cannot be shown, even in a country where people travel from all over the world to hunt.

Why? Because political correctness dictates it.

As ice melts, Polar bears could find last refuge in Canada’s High Arctic


Canada’s High Arctic could become the last stable refuge for polar bears as climate change melts away their hunting grounds, a U.S. government report says.

Populations elsewhere — in Alaska, Russia, Norway and around Hudson Bay, northern Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador — are likely to decrease or greatly decrease by the year 2050 as global temperatures rise, the report projects.

But under a moderate scenario for greenhouse gas emissions, with enough reductions worldwide to keep the average global temperature hike to no more than two degrees, the polar bear population in northern Nunavut is most likely to remain stable and even has a decent chance of increasing, researchers say.

The 124-page research report comes from the U.S. Geological Survey, an entity of the U.S. Department of the Interior, and was published this week.

It looks at polar bear populations in four “eco regions,” including an area known as the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, home to perhaps 5,000 or more of the animals — about a quarter of the global total.

The archipelago has the best “potential to serve as a long-term refugium” for polar bears, the authors say.

But even then, if countries continue with “business as usual” and nothing is done to curb the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, the long-term viability of polar bears would be in doubt.

Sea ice essential

Polar bear populations are thought to be sensitive to global warming mainly because the animals spend the winter and spring on sea ice hunting for fatty seals as well as mating and giving birth.

When the ice retreats in the summer, the bears are forced onto land. But land-based food can’t satisfy their dietary needs.

“The terrestrial resources are just not sufficient. It’s the difference between eating fat and eating a few berries,” said Andrew Derocher, a polar bear expert and professor at the University of Alberta, who wasn’t involved in the U.S. government report.

Polar bear with dead seal

A polar bear drags a seal along a floe in Baffin Bay, above the Arctic Circle in Canada’s North. The bears need sea ice to hunt seals, their main source of food. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

“The whole fate of polar bears depends on how fast the sea ice disappears.”

Scientists have warned for years that climate change threatens polar bear populations. The U.S. Geological Survey study compares that risk against others like oil and gas shipping through the North, pollution and hunting of the bears, which is legal in Canada, the U.S. and Greenland.

It concludes that sea ice loss is the greatest menace to their survival, by a significant margin.

And it says about a third of the world’s polar bears — those in Alaska, Russia and Norway — could be in imminent danger from greenhouse gas emissions in as soon as a decade. Those areas of the Arctic have suffered some of the most dramatic declines in sea ice.

The scientists saw no rebound in overall population numbers in the projections that stretched to the year 2100 under either of the two scenarios they looked at: one in which greenhouse gas emissions stabilized, and the other in which they continued unabated.

“Polar bears are in big trouble,” said Rebecca Noblin, Alaska director for the Center for Biological Diversity. “There are other steps we can take to slow the decline of polar bears, but in the long run, the only way to save polar bears in the Arctic is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Other marine animals at risk

Polar bears aren’t the only marine species at risk from climate change.

In separate research released this week, an international team of scientists looked at the effects on sea creatures, concluding that under the “business as usual” scenario of unchecked greenhouse gas emissions, “most marine organisms evaluated will have very high risk of impacts.”

The effects will be felt “across all latitudes,” the authors write, “making this a global concern beyond the north/south divide.”

As more greenhouse gases enter the atmosphere, oceans will warm and become more acidic, says the study, published in the journal Science.

Fish will have to find new habitats in cooler waters. Warm-water corals and sea grasses at mid-latitudes are already being affected.

Even if the world commits and sticks to the most stringent of the proposed emissions targets, creatures like mussels, oysters, clams and scallops “will be at high risk” by the year 2100, the scientists say.

“All the species and services we get from the ocean will be impacted and everyone, including Canadians, who benefit from these goods and services are vulnerable,” said William Cheung, a co-author of the paper and an associate professor at the University of British Columbia’s fisheries centre.

With files from The Associated Press

Canada, Aphrodisiacs, and Seals: Is There No Shame?


Canadian Blog

by Barry Kent MacKay,
Senior Program Associate

Born Free USA’s Canadian Representative

Barry is an artist, both with words and with paint. He has been associated with our organization for nearly three decades and is our go-to guy for any wildlife question. He knows his animals — especially birds — and the issues that affect them. His blogs will give you just the tip of his wildlife-knowledge iceberg, so be sure to stay and delve deeper into his Canadian Project articles. If you like wildlife and reading, Barry’s your man. (And we’re happy to have him as part of our team, too!)

Canada, Aphrodisiacs, and Seals: Is There No Shame?

Published 06/10/15

Grey Seals

The Fur Institute of Canada has reached what could be a new low. According to recent news reports, last year, it presented the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) with a plan to sell penises of grey seals to be used by predominantly Asian buyers as aphrodisiacs.

According to news reports, the DFO is thinking about it.

Why am I not surprised? Disgusted, yes—but not surprised.

The current government of Canada, under the authoritarian rule of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, is the worst I can recall. I believe this is certainly the most divisive, secretive, and downright destructive government in this country’s once positive and respected image within the international community.

Some background: The species of seal targeted is the grey seal, found on both sides of the north Atlantic, on our side from northern Labrador south into the New England states.

The grey seal was once so rare that it was thought to have been extirpated from Canadian waters. But, its numbers have recovered.

No, it’s not a fish—but DFO also manages marine mammals. Its management of fish, under well-documented political pressure trumping science from a time well predating Mr. Harper, has led to some disastrous collapses in various fisheries.

And seals, being consummate consumers of seafood, are scapegoated for human greed and ineptitude. The simplistic view of DFO is that the fish seals eat would otherwise be available for commercial fisheries.

To see what we’re up against, read this account of a seal biologist trying to explain basic seal and fish ecology to a federal Senate committee charged with recommending what to do about grey seals. Or, if that’s too long or technical, check this out.

The bottom line is that there is no true science behind the contention that grey seals are responsible for the catastrophic decline in certain fisheries, especially the northern cod—and no consideration is given to the positive role seals could be playing in the slow recovery of cod stocks. Grey seals were at their most abundant when cod were, as well.

But, none of the destructive forces want to admit culpability when there are seals (or other fish-eating wildlife) to be blamed and killed. Both the industry and the government want to kill them in large numbers.

But, to do so with any hope of making a significant decline in grey seals would cost too much… unless, of course, they could be sold.

However, there is no market for grey seals. For the last several decades, the federal government has tried to placate East Coast voters by developing markets for seal products, including meat, leather, fur, heart valves for human surgery patients, oils, and, yes—genitals.

But now, the harp seals are not to be killed until they are about two weeks old (no longer “babies” in the eyes of the government and industry) and even then, most former markets have rejected the product and the major buyer has stopped buying.

The very different grey seal has never been marketable, however. And, of a quota of 60,000 last year, DFO admits that only 82 were killed.
They all know, of course, that the product does not work. Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop those desperate to try whatever holds the promise of enhanced virility.

And, apparently that’s just fine with Mr. Harper, his government, and the Fur Institute of Canada—the latter having made the proposal, in the interest of killing 140,000 grey seals over a five year period in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The plan, secretly tabled in March 2014, promotes use of “every part” of the dead seal. “The penises of juvenile and adult animals may be dried and sold as sexual enhance products, particularly to Asian buyers,” says the institute, according to reporters who obtained the report.
“Asian consumers, particularly athletes, also consume a beverage called Dalishen Oral Liquid that is made from seal penis and testicles, which they believe to be energizing and performance enhancing.” They aren’t, of course, but honesty is not a hallmark of the fur industry.

The sad fact is that trade in animal products used for various medicinal properties they either lack, or that are available from other sources, are driving many wildlife species toward extinction. Encouraging such nonsense is clearly antithetical to protecting endangered species, making a mockery of the fur industry’s claim that it is concerned about conservation.

It’s not a new idea. There was a market for the long-established and very commercially driven slaughter of harp and hooded seal pups, mostly, and some adults for many years, and it did include seal penises sold for hundreds of dollars each. But, the widespread use of male aphrodisiacs, such as Viagra, pretty well destroyed demand. The Fur Institute is suggesting sending out five boats and 40 hunters to use nine mm. semi-automatic rifles with silencers, currently banned in Canada, at an investment cost of around $9 million Canadian (currently about $7.4 million U.S.).

That the DFO would even consider all of this is a sad commentary on a country poorly served by its government. I am ashamed of what’s being done with my country’s once stellar reputation, but live in hope that, come the fall federal election, we can start a new chapter with a government that cares about conservation.

Keep Wildlife in the Wild,


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