Top international biologists and planners call for an end to elephants in captivity

By Don Pinnock• 10 September 2019

Photo: Unsplash/ Timothy K
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An international conference of elephant experts has condemned the capture and confinement of elephants and has called on zoos to release and reintegrate them into the wild or relocate them to sanctuaries where they can live a more normal life.

Holding elephants in captivity causes them enormous stress and constitutes cruelty. Capturing wild elephants and removing them from their families is unacceptable. Captivity is simply unsuitable for elephants.

This was the overall agreement at a conference in Hermanus on 6 September 2019 attended by elephant specialists from Kenya, Zimbabwe, the United States, Great Britain, the Netherlands and South Africa. They were seeking to work out a framework and policy guidelines for dealing with elephants in captivity.

The conference, Taking the Elephant out of the Room, was organised by the EMS Foundation and followed the historic ruling by the United Nations wildlife trade organisation, CITES, prohibiting wild-caught elephants from being held in captive facilities.

The conference was opened by Chief Steven Fritz of the Khoi Council.

“Elephants are sacred to the Khoisan First Nation people,” Fritz told delegates. “What you do to them you do to us. If you enslave elephants you enslave the Khoisan nation. Like us, they are First Nations. They’re our rainmakers and have been with us from before memory. For this reason my people have resolved to unite to protect them from cruelty and killing.”

For Kenyan elephant ethologist and conservation biologist Dr Joyce Poole, who has conducted groundbreaking elephant research in Amboseli National Park, confinement even in the best facility constituted extreme cruelty.

“In a single day, an elephant may socialise with hundreds of individuals. Relationships radiate out from a mother-offspring bond through families, clans, subpopulations. Independent males form long-term friendships.

“Elephants communicate through more than 300 gestures, complex speech and glandular secretions. They contemplate, negotiate, collaborate, plan and are aware of death. They care about their lives and are more like us than we realise.

“What happens when we remove all intellectual stimulation? In confinement, without companions, an elephant has no purpose. Captive elephants lack the very foundation of elephant life. It is utterly wrong to confine them.”

Biologist Dr Keith Lindsay, whose conservation work began in Amboseli in 1977, outlined the centrality of elephants in ecosystem health.

“They’re a keystone species, essential components in an ecosystem. If you take the keystone out of an arch it collapses. They’re ecological engineers upon which many other species depend. They bring down trees to browse level, they open paths in the forest, they find salt licks, they open space for grazers and disperse seeds. The wild is where they belong.”
Pictures of African elephants taken at Karachi Safari Park in Pakistan in January 2019. Photo: Ban Animal Trading

Advocate Jim Karani of WildlifeDirect in Kenya said the important question is not “can animals reason or talk, but can they suffer?”. Our confinement of elephants shows they can and do.

“There’s a body of research that proves there’s no conservation-education value to the use of elephants in zoos,” he said.
“They are miserable and tell us nothing. Their only use is to take a selfie and walk away.

“The law has a duty to protect all sentient beings and in zoos there are serious welfare concerns about the treatment of non-human persons. An animal has a right of protection against needless pain and suffering.

“Confining and isolating an elephant is not the way to treat a sentient being. They’re not merely property. They should be granted rights as legal non-human persons, as corporations are.”

Marion Garai of the Elephant Specialist Advisory Group provided the statistics. There are presently 1,770 elephants worldwide in captive facilities, of which 1,491 are in zoos. Most of these are in the United States, followed by China, Germany and Japan. Just under 100 facilities hold a single, lonely elephant.

Several speakers detailed the extreme stress caused to elephants by capture and confinement.

Audrey Delsink of Humane Society International-Africa said capturing baby elephants – as Zimbabwe continues to do – causes post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that can last decades. This was confirmed by Dr Gay Bradshaw of the Kerulus Centre for Nonviolence in the United States, whose work has led to the field of trans-species psychology.
Pictures of African elephants taken at Karachi Safari Park in Pakistan in January 2019. Photo: Ban Animal Trading

“There is an epidemic of PTSD among elephants in captivity,” she said.
“Elephants share with humans the same brain, same consciousness and the same vulnerability to trauma. They can experience psychological and social breakdown. Trauma spreads from parent to child, neighbour to neighbour.

“If we ‘save’ elephants from extinction by confining them, they will be elephants in body only but psychologically extinct. We have to end killing and captivity and restore ancestral habitats. That holds true for all wildlife on every continent and in every ocean.”

Wildlife management specialist Dr Yolanda Pretorius explained the negative effect humans have on elephants, from fencing, manipulation and noise to capture, confinement and cruel training.

“All this causes trauma and impacts on their welfare. The less people have to do with elephants the better it is for elephants. But there’s almost no place left on Earth for this to happen.

“In captivity elephants are less aware, they move slowly, they seem to droop. If you’ve worked with elephants you can see their depression, their sadness. So we have to work out our future relationship with elephants very carefully.”

Lynn James of SPCA Zimbabwe and environmental lawyer Lenin Chisaira outlined the traumatic impact of the live capture of baby elephants in Zimbabwe. Adults are driven off by helicopter and the exhausted babies grabbed and bundled into trucks for export, mainly to Dubai and China.
They showed heartbreaking undercover footage of terrified youngsters being pushed and kicked to “move up” while loading into trucks.

Professor David Bilchitz of Animal Law Reform SA explored the legal perspective of South Africa’s engagement with elephants. He noted that the way sustainable use of wildlife was used in South Africa was to focus on the species as a whole and allow for the sacrifice of many individuals. This allows individuals to be objectified and exploited rather than respected and well stewarded.

An integrative approach, on the other hand, he said, would focus on the individual and the species: showing respect for both the individual and the survival of the species.

“Trophy hunters, for example, would say it works to the benefit of the whole by bringing in revenue to conserve the species. However, can we justify serious harm for the individual animal for the greater good?

“An integrative approach would reject the view that this advances conservation. It would argue that respect for individuals advances their conservation.

“I would adopt this position as this is the only approach that ensures the long-term goals of both positions. Only our respect for animals will ensure their long-term survival.”

Elephant researcher Antoinette van de Water has been working on the value of elephants in society and searching for the narratives needed to make them more important in order to change exploitative practices.

“We have to find goals that are good for both humans and elephants. What are the drivers of peaceful coexistence? In this, cultural values are important and we must work with affected communities whose problems get heard. Putting a price tag on elephants is not the way.”

Kahindi Lekalhaile of the African Network for Animal Welfare insisted that captivity of elephants was not a method of conservation. Captivity isn’t just about space, he said. It denies them social interaction and that is a great injustice.

“Because elephants in zoos do not live long, however, there is a constant demand for replacements from the wild. This is a threat to wild populations.

“Worldwide, most captive elephants are still wild-caught. We can look into artificial insemination,” he said. “But capturing young elephants for export to zoos should never happen. There should be no international movement of elephants.

“But what do we actually do about elephants who are already in captivity? We should think deeply about releasing them into the wild.
Where are these wilds? They are diminishing. And should we be releasing traumatised elephants? Let’s keep them in natural sanctuaries.”

Brett Mitchell of the Elephant Reintegration Trust outlined the steps necessary to integrate captive elephants into the wild, a process, he said, that can take many years. For a few deeply traumatised elephants it may not be possible. But he mentioned a group of elephants which were released from a holding boma into the wild that never went back, not once.

In concluding discussions it was unanimously agreed that no new elephants should be placed in captivity and that elephants currently in captivity should be placed in as free and natural environments as possible and not penned for human pleasure.

A policy framework will be developed from the conference inputs and discussion. DM

The conference was live-streamed and can be viewed here:

Reward for info on shooting of pelicans along Montana river

Montana wildlife officials are offering a $1,000 reward for information in the shooting of possibly dozens of pelicans along the Bighorn River. Photo: NBC Montana

Montana wildlife officials are offering a $1,000 reward for information in the shooting of possibly dozens of pelicans along the Bighorn River.

State game wardens have reported retrieving about a dozen dead pelicans along a stretch of the river downstream of Yellowtail Dam. The river in that area is popular among fly fishers.

Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesman Robert Gibson says the birds are being killed with a shotgun.

Officials believe dozens more may have been shot and killed this summer in the same area. Gibson says that estimate is based on dead birds seen but not retrieved by wardens and reports they’ve received.

Pelicans are a protected under federal law as migratory birds.

The reward is offered for information that leads to the conviction of those responsible. Call 1-800-TIP-MONT.

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

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

Delta Optimist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Shift to a More Plant-Based Diet, Without the Guilt

Kathy Freston is a New York Times bestselling author four times over. Her books on healthy eating and conscious living include The LeanVeganist and Quantum Wellness. She considers herself a wellness activist and has appeared frequently on national television.

All this, and yet, she’s not strident or bossy. She wouldn’t dream of making me feel bad if I sprinkled parmesan on my pasta. She somehow understands that I can’t seem to give up my cow’s milk lattes.

“I’m a big believer in progress, not perfection,” says Freston. She offers easy, manageable ways to ease into a more plant-based diet. Freston takes a compassionate, no-guilt and shame-free approach to omnivores who try to reduce their meat consumption but who are maybe not on board the vegan train.

Leslie Crawford: You take an unusually gentle approach with people who aren’t vegetarians or vegans. Is this really an effective approach?

Kathy Freston: I realized that if someone lectured or shamed me, I’d probably reject the message and not have developed any of my own insights, whereas when I talk to people who are nonjudgmental, I’m an open receiver. So, I decided to share the message the way I like it to have done with me.

Your dog was instrumental in your conversion to becoming a vegetarian and then a vegan. Tell us about your “ah-ha!” moment.

I had received a pamphlet in the mail from some animal organization depicting a cow being dragged to slaughter. It hit me hard, and I didn’t know what to do with that. Later, I was playing with my dog Lhotse, and she was lying on her back and looking up at me. When I looked back at her, [I] suddenly imagined her being lined up for slaughter and considered how she’d feel. I thought, If I don’t want my dog to go to slaughter, why would I want any animal to go to slaughter? As you know, a dog is no better or worse than any animal.

You talk about how becoming vegan is a process. I think some people think it’s just too hard because they have to entirely change the way they eat in order to become one.

It’s a process for several reasons. One is that our culture has effectively numbed us to what’s happening to animals. We are told it’s normal, natural and necessary. From early childhood, we’ve been indoctrinated with the idea that it doesn’t matter how we treat farm animals. It takes a while to get over that indoctrination.

The second thing is that we like to eat what we like to eat. Certain habits and traditions are ingrained in us. For anyone who has a habit, it’s very hard to break it.

Finally, it’s about being resourceful. It takes a while to find your footing: what to make for dinner, how to shop, how to please your kids. All those things work in tandem. If you give yourself time and space to figure this out, anyone can do it.

I’m getting there, and this may sound silly, but I’m having trouble giving up cow’s milk lattes.

Try the 21-day rule. It’s easy to change a habit in that amount of time. So for 21 days, try soy milk or oat milk — whatever it is you want to use as a replacement. It might not be great the second or third day, but once you get in the habit of something, you can change.

We talked about how shaming people for eating meat doesn’t work. I’ve found that meat-eaters also try to shame vegetarians and vegans. Have you experienced this?

That happens all the time. I remember a dinner party with some VIP people. The host was serving meat and cheese, and I just quietly said, “No thank you. I’m good with what I have.” I’d already told the host I’m a vegan, so not to worry about getting an extra steak or fish. When I said “no thank you” to the third thing she offered, she told me, “You’re so boring!” I was so humiliated. The last thing I want to do is make a spectacle of myself.

That was a while ago. Now I just think, “Oh my goodness,” but I don’t get upset. I don’t like to get into arguments.

Any other tips for moving over to a more plant-based diet?

This is a movement about kindness. If you come from that place, the changes stick. But if you force yourself and hate it, it won’t stick. We are looking for long-term change.

Once you take the pressure off, you can lean into changing. My intention was to become someone who no longer eats animals. I knew it wouldn’t be easy. I grew up eating meat three times a day. But I allowed myself to become curious and went to see what I could find at the grocery store. All of this creates momentum, and I just leaned into it.

Plus, nowadays, there are so many plant-based meats — so many great products to choose from.

Many parents, including me, struggle with trying to raise kids vegetarian or vegan. Advice?

Find what a child actually likes rather than forcing something. Sometimes it’s Gardein chicken fingers or a vegan burger or [vegan] cheese. I’m a big lover of smoothies, and you do want to get good nutrition. You can put in frozen broccoli, blueberries, protein powder. But don’t worry about being uber-healthy right away. Start by finding some things they like and build from there.

Consider taking them to a farm animal sanctuary. There are great books to have on hand: Dr. Joel Fuhrman wrote one called Disease-Proof Your Child: Feeding Kids Right. Your books Sprig the Rescue Pig and Gwen the Rescue Henare wonderful. Brava! I can’t wait to see them in every kid’s hands.


Here’s further advice from Freston taken from her own writings:

Practice tolerance: That’s how you can change hearts and minds, and how you can change your own eating habits, too.

Lean into plant-based eating: Take it a step at a time. For example, you could start by abstaining from eating small animals such as chickens and fish, then cutting all large animals (cows and pigs) from your diet.

It’s also okay to be vegan-ish: So you eat cheese now and then, but you have cut out all other animal products. Allow yourself these small things, and applaud what you’ve already done.

Eat consciously: Conscious eating is being aware of where your food came from. Consider the 9.47 billion land animals who suffered and were killed for food in 2017. Think: 10 steps before it got to me, what did this single animal experience? It helps to think small as well because the vast number of animals slaughtered for our food can be so unfathomable. Think of that one chicken, that one animal. What did that creature experience on her way to my dinner plate? Am I all right with that just so I can have my chicken sandwich?

Letter on The reality of trapping

A suggestion for recreational trappers to help people understand their sport: have interactive activities this Saturday at the Wild N.H. event in Concord.

Set up a demo area (fallen log, etc.) where kids can suggest where to put a trap and bait. Say for a fox or coyote. Then let a dog loose near the trap and see if the setup works. If the dog steps on the trap, its screams of pain and fear would bring people running – instant audience.

The trappers could then show the kids how to bludgeon the dog to death without damaging its coat. Or, at this family event, show how today’s traps allow the release of a trapped animal with little injury. Let the dog go, and point out: no broken bones, no blood, just a slight limp. No need to mention the dog’s broken teeth from its frantic biting at the trap.

No one should cause this much pain to animals as recreation. Some trapping is necessary – usually targeted at individuals. And set for a quick kill, not for hours in a trap. Manage predator populations? Not unless you measure population size and increase trapping when numbers are high, decrease it when low.

Note: What I describe above is not going to happen at Wild N.H. Day. There will be many fun and interesting exhibits. Come and bring the kids. But know that the table of beautiful furs set up by the trappers rests on a dark, cruel reality.


Cormorant Hunt Is the Single Worst Wild Game Management Decision in Canadian History



Barry Kent MacKay,
December 2018

This move is a response to lobbying by the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH), who must now abandon any pretense that hunting isn’t cruel and wasteful.

Pair of cormorants in flight. Drawing by Barry Kent MacKay / Born Free USA. See more of Barry’s art – Art by Barry Kent MacKay.

To oppose this monstrous legislation, GO HERE TO LEAVE A COMMENT.
Deadline for comment is January 3, 2019.

Ontario’s newly elected premier, Doug Ford, in many ways as Trumpian as the Donald himself, has just proposed what is, I believe, the worst single wild game management decision in Canadian history. Did I say “game”? “Gamey” barely describes the essentially inedible double-crested cormorant, a species that was twice nearly wiped out in Ontario, and is not “game” by any traditional definition. And yet, so it is to be called, except that for the first time since game laws came into being, it will be legal to leave the carcasses of birds who have been shot as “game” to rot. The bag limit is 50 per day with no limit to possession. The season will be from March 15, the start of the cornmorant nesting season, to December 31, when all but a few stragglers have migrated south.

Ford’s government is a majority (which is like having control of both the House and Senate in U.S. politics), so there can be no effective opposition, and Ford’s term is four years. I doubt he’ll be re-elected, but it will take further years to undo damage he’s doing in this and other similarly Draconian legislation. I hate to think what’s to come.

This move is a response to lobbying by the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH), who must now abandon any pretense that hunting isn’t cruel and wasteful. “Hunting” has to be redefined, literally, with the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act being amended so hunters can allow the meat of “game” to spoil. The birds are easily shot and highly vulnerable. There is no “fair chase” or “sustainable use” involved.

Cormorant chicks
Born unfeathered, so ugly only a mother can love them, which she, and dad, do, protecting them from the elements. Drawing by Barry Kent MacKay / Born Free USA. See more of Barry’s art – Art by Barry Kent MacKay.

Cormorants nest in colonies of mixed bird species. Both parents need to tend the young, born naked. Would it not be deemed cruel to put a baby bird in the oven, turn the temperature to 90 or more Fahrenheit and leave it to die? That degree of abuse will be the fate of who knows how many hundreds, or thousands of baby cormorants, whose parents tend them with such great care – feeding them, shading them, warming them, and even bringing them water to cool them in the heat of the day.
Ford (brother to Toronto’s late crack-smoking Mayor Rob Ford) is not the sharpest knife in the drawer and probably bought into the much-debunked belief that fish consumed by cormorants would otherwise be available to commercial and sport fishing interests. A search of peer-reviewed scientific literature by ornithologists showed otherwise, but facts don’t matter to authoritarian right-wingers. Natural predation is usually “compensatory,” taking individual prey that would otherwise not survive, and only under exceptional circumstances is predation “additive,” meaning that it is above the number needed for the prey species numbers to continue. If this were not the case, all predators would wipe out their prey and go extinct. As The Department of Natural Resources for Minnesota puts it, compensatory mortality “…is common in all animal populations and this type of mortality [by cormorants] does not decrease fish populations.”

This is all too technical for Ford and OFAH, but even if they did understand such basic ecology, I doubt they would care. Numbers of hunters are in freefall decline, if “hunting” is defined in terms of science-based regulation, “fair chase” and utilization. The term has shifted to simply mean killing. The fact that cormorant guano, rich in nutriments, can kill off trees, plus the absurd belief that fish eaten by cormorants would otherwise wind up on hooks, in nets and creels, or glued to wooden plaques hung on walls, is all the excuses needed. With slob hunters now legitimized by Mr. Ford, watch, too, for killing of loons and other birds that dare to eat fish and are easily mistaken for cormorants.

To oppose this monstrous legislation, GO HERE TO LEAVE A COMMENT.
Deadline for comment is January 3, 2019.

Grande Cache animal lover ‘devastated’ after bear cub euthanized by provincial officials

Groot, a grizzly bear cub discovered by a highway near Grande Cache, was destroyed after a local animal advocate turned it over to provincial wildlife officials. ORG XMIT: nkDgueFEGHZbedIRnR4d EDMONTON


A Grande Cache animal advocate is distraught after an abandoned grizzly bear cub she nursed back to health was destroyed by provincial wildlife officials.

“I was absolutely devastated,” said Brandy Gienger of the Grande Cache Animal Society. “I was heartbroken when I passed him over to the fish and game officers because I knew that he was going to be euthanized.

“I knew that (they) were just telling me what I wanted to hear so they didn’t have to create a scene with someone.”

On May 3, a work crew informed Gienger of an abandoned bear cub along Highway 40 near the Sheep Creek Bridge. The animal society called Alberta Fish and Wildlife, who told Gienger to leave the animal because its mother was probably out hunting.

The bear was still there among the rocks three days later. On the fourth day, the cub was gone, so Gienger assumed it had been picked up by its mother or fish and wildlife.

One day later though, someone called to say the bear was still in the same area by the highway. That evening, they went to collect the cub, who they decided to call Groot.

An Alberta wildlife rescue organization said it would work to rehabilitate the starving animal, and instructed Gienger how to care for him. Gienger kept him in a dark kennel to keep him from becoming habituated to humans, and fed him goat’s milk, which the famished bear cub loved.

Groot, a grizzly bear cub discovered by a highway near Grande Cache, was destroyed after a local animal advocate turned it over to provincial wildlife officials.  EDMONTON

By Thursday, they were ready to send the bear to the rescue centre when they got a call that conservation officers were on their way to collect him.

Gienger said she was reluctant because the bear was hours away from heading to a rescue. But she was assured the officials would “take the best interests” of the bear cub and take care of it.

On Friday morning, an apologetic provincial official told Gienger that the bear had been destroyed because he was severely dehydrated and his organs had stopped functioning properly. That ran counter to what Gienger had seen.

In a statement, Alberta Environment and Parks officials said steps were taken to find a facility that would accept a grizzly bear for permanent care, such as a zoo. However, they were unsuccessful, and said they had no choice to euthanize the “emaciated, dehydrated, lethargic” bear which was “near death.”

“This was a very sad situation, but unfortunately, officials felt the most humane thing to do was to limit the animal’s suffering,” the statement reads. “The decision to humanely euthanize this grizzly bear cub was not made lightly.”

Alberta recently approved a rehabilitation protocol for orphaned black bears, the statement added. However, the “rehabilitation requirements for grizzly bears are different, often requiring specialized care for a longer period of time.”

Alberta Fish and Wildlife officers kill grizzly bear cub near Grande Cache

A rescued grizzly bear cub is seen in this undated handout photo. Concerns are being raised about Alberta’s new policy on rehabilitating bears after a grizzly cub was killed by Fish and Wildlife officers this week. Two women rescued a grizzly bear cub near Grande Cache this week after watching it for five days to see if its mother would return for it. KYLA WOOLLARD / THE CANADIAN PRESS


GRANDE CACHE, Alta. — Concerns are being raised about Alberta’s new policy on rehabilitating orphaned bears after a grizzly cub was killed by wildlife officers this week.

The province lifted a ban on private rehabilitation of cubs last month, but it only applies to black bears.

Two women rescued a grizzly bear cub near Grande Cache this week after watching it for five days to see if its mother would return for it. They went down to the area on Wednesday to check on the bear and found it emaciated, weak and starving.

“We brought it home and fed it some goat’s milk,” said Brandy Gienger, who’s with the Grande Cache Animal Society.

They had two rehabilitation facilities that were willing to take the bear, which they named Grout, but provincial wildlife officers showed up Thursday and took the cub away.

Woollard said they were told Friday that the bear has been put down by the officers.

“They just destroyed him,” said Gienger. “I’m devastated. I am absolutely disgusted with this.”

“They didn’t give him a chance at all.”

Officials with the province said in a statement that they tried to find a zoo that would accept the bear under permanent care, but they weren’t able to find one.

“The bear was emaciated, dehydrated, lethargic, and near death and specialists did not believe it would survive,” said the email. “To limit the bear’s suffering, the bear was euthanized.”

Gienger said the bear was responding well after being fed the goat’s milk.

Her friend, Kyla Woollard, said they’ve heard from the province and hope officials can change the orphaned bear policy to include grizzlies.

“I’m still upset at the fact that something that was so innocent had to lose its life,” she said. “When they passed the law to rehabilitate black bears, I feel like they should have made a law to rehabilitate all animals.”

The province recently approved the orphaned black bear protocol, but they said in their statement that every animal is different.

“The rehabilitation requirements for grizzly bears are different, often requiring specialized care for a longer period of time,” they said in the statement.

Grizzly bears were listed as threatened in Alberta in 2010 when it was determined there were only about 700 left. The numbers led to a recovery strategy aimed at reducing the number of deaths caused by people.

–By Colette Derworiz in Edmonton

Howard man ordered pay $13,000 for trapping, killing migratory birds


A Howard man has been ordered to pay more than $13,000 in restitution for trapping migratory birds in steel traps in Minter County last year.

Armand Joseph Dornbusch, 63, was sentenced this week to pay $13,662.57 by U.S. Magistrate Judge Veronica Duffy, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He also lost his hunting privileges for three years.

Miner County authorities found 21 steel-jawed leg-hold metal traps on wooden fence posts in August 2017. Twelve birds were found, including four hawks and one great horned owl, and four were still alive.

Three of the live birds were raptors and underwent surgery at the Great Plains Zoo to amputate “severely damaged digits” on their feet, according to the release. They were released back into the wild.


March 1 marked the beginning of the annual coyote challenge. For the 2nd year in a row the state is sponsoring the co…

Posted: Mar. 7, 2018 11:10 AM
Updated: Mar. 7, 2018 11:41 AM

March 1 marked the beginning of the annual coyote challenge. For the 2nd year in a row the state is sponsoring the competition to allow the hunter who brings in the most coyotes to be entered into drawings for a chance to win a lifetime hunting license or prize of similar value.

Trapper Jason Chapman is among this year’s participants.

“This is our trapping pack basket, it’s got all of our equipment, it’s got our traps ready to go,” said Chapman is also with Predator Control Services, a company that provides wildlife removal for a wide range of animals. That day Chapman was once again in search of what he calls nuisance coyotes. “The population has just exploded in the last five years even in these urban environments and that’s just not good to have,” added Chapman.

The wooded area behind homeowner Kim Waldrop property is the focus of Chapman’s trapping expedition. The property is sandwiched between a school and a residential neighborhood and Waldrop says it isn’t uncommon to see a coyote roaming the area. “Just three or four nights ago we saw them cut across the back area in front of our storage area and into that wooded lot right there. They just trotted right around like obviously this is his home as much as it is ours, but it’s just not.

State of Georgia also recognizes the problem and say the Coyote Challenge is an effort to control the coyote population. As part of the effort citizens throughout the state can trap and kill coyotes, then send a picture of their kill to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to be entered into the drawings that will take place every two months between March and August. Champion, has already submitted a coyote to the competition and he’s hoping his latest trapping efforts will add to his submissions.

“We use live catch foot restrains which hold the animals in place, the best way to describe it is think of it as handcuffs for a coyote, it hold them until we can come remove them, it’s the safest for the animal and it’s the most humane way to handle them,” added Champion.

But not everyone is in support of the effort, “The Georgia Coyote Challenge is something that our organization has been very outspoken against, we do not agree with” said Dr. Chris Mowry a biologist from Berry College.

Mowry is also the Founder of the Atlanta Coyote Project and he says we need to find a way to co-exist with the coyotes because killing them will only have an adverse effect. “Killing coyotes often times leads to unintended consequences and that is more coyotes. It may knock the population down for a little while but what happens, is you will free up individuals to breed who weren’t breeding before.”

Mowry says as the new coyotes breed their population will soar. In addition, he adds coyotes are helping to balance the ecosystem by controlling the rodent population. But, beyond that Mowry says the process is just inhumane. He also pointed out the timing of the challenge coincides with breading season, he says in many cases parent coyotes are killed and their cubs are left to roam the area in search of food, a process that once again increases the possibility of human contact. But, for Waldrop who hire Chapman to remove the coyotes because her family is already having negative interactions with the animals and she says something has to be done. “I’m very nervous because they are just so active and all over the place .

Sentiments Chapman echoed, “There are way too many coyotes out there right now the population has just sky rocketed and when I’m pulling 10 or 15 out of a small subdivision we know we have a problem.

As of Tuesday only 17 coyote entries had been turned into the challenge.