Keep Grizzlies Protected: A New Film About Why Grizzlies Still Need Federal Protectio

December 19, 2016

|Louisa Willcox

http://www.keepgrizzliesprotected.com/

http://www.grizzlytimes.org/single-post/2016/12/19/Keep-Grizzlies-Protected-A-New-Film-About-Why-Grizzlies-Still-Need-Federal-Protection

Today marks the release of a film entitled Keep Grizzlies Protected (http://www.keepgrizzliesprotected.com/) by noted filmmakers Anthony Birkholz and Marni Walsh. The film features leading scientists who speak out about threats to the future of the grizzly bear, and raise concerns about the federal government’s stated intention to strip federal protections from grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem early next year.

 

Delisting would expose the threatened population to trophy hunting. World-renowned scientists, as well as leading scientific societies, have expressed deep concern about the risk that state-sponsored sport hunting and other harmful policies will pose to grizzly bears. The grizzly bear is especially vulnerable because of its low reproductive rates, and much-diminished numbers since European settlers arrived.  Even with federal protections, grizzly bears still number just 3% of what they once were in the lower 48 states. An unprecedented number of citizens share these concerns about the future of the grizzly in and around the Nation’s first park.

 

The film features a cast of the “who’s who” of experts on large carnivores, endangered species and climate change. Scientists include Dr. Jane Goodall, Dr. David Mattson, Dr. Rob Wielgus, Dr. Jesse Logan, Dr. Diana Six, Dr. Brad Bergstrom and Dr. Jeremy Bruskotter.  Yvon Chouinard, world-famous climber, founder of Patagonia, and conservationist, also spoke in an interview about one of his passions: climate change.

 

I felt compelled to take on producing this film after reading the inspired comments of these and other experts submitted last spring to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in response to a draft delisting proposal. I have read countless comment letters to the government in my 30 plus years as a conservationist in the Northern Rockies. But in its most recent delisting plan, the FWS so overstepped the bounds of commonsense and scientific integrity as to unleash a stunning backlash by experts. Rarely have I seen such a sweeping condemnation by independent scientists of a government grizzly bear management proposal.

 

What the Experts Say About Delisting and Trophy Hunting

In its draft delisting proposal, some of the FWS’s claims were “ludicrous”, according to retired Forest Service ecologist Dr. Jesse Logan. Logan was referring here to FWS’ bald-faced assertion that climate change has not had and would never have adverse impacts on grizzlies. In fact, “climate change is affecting everything that the grizzlies use for food and habitat,” said Dr. Diana Six, Forest Pathologist at the University of Montana.

 

Dr. Jane Goodall, primatologist and ethologist, observed: “Two of the bear’s major foods have been all but wiped out due to climate change, disease, and invasive species.”

 

In the interviews, a number of the scientists focused on the threat of renewing trophy hunting after 40 years of federal endangered species protections. Dr. Rob Wielgus, Director of Washington State University’s Large Carnivore Lab said: “The largest obstacles for recovery of the Yellowstone and Grand Teton bears is human-caused mortality and the greatest potential future obstacle is even greater human-caused mortality as per the proposed hunting seasons in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana.”

 

Dr. Jane Goodall offered: “I was really shocked to hear about this. Actually, I found it hard to believe, because they face so many threats to their survival. If the grizzlies are delisted, and states open a hunting season, I think many hearts would break. I know mine would.”

 

Many scientists cited the problem of the grizzly bear’s long isolation from other populations. “Grizzly bear recovery really comes down to whether we can connect the Yellowstone population with populations of grizzly bears elsewhere,” said Dr. David Mattson, retired biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. “If we can’t, the ecosystem continues to unravel, densities continue to decline, they’re going to be that much more vulnerable potentially to extirpation.”

 

Experts challenged the recovery targets as being too low to ensure the long-term health of the population. Dr. Jesse Logan noted that: “Fish and Wildlife contends that we have a viable population with 700 bears. Analysis by the American Society of Mammalogists says no, the effective breeding population is going to require over twice that many bears, so we have to allow enough habitat for bears to expand into –– and it exists here, it’s just that they’re not allowed to do it.”

 

Dr. Brad Bergstrom, Conservation Biologist and Professor at Valdosta State University, put the grizzly delisting decision in the context of a deeper problem inherent in FWS’ approach to endangered species recovery: “The whole idea of recovery planning and recovery goals, they (FWS) seem to be stuck in this outmoded philosophy of picking a magic number. We’re going to set a target and 20 or 30 years later we’re going to come back to that target that we set… and we’re going to just be faithful to that target number… without regarding any of the scientific advances made within those last 20 to 30 years. Now that, to me, does not honor the letter of the Endangered Species Act, which says that their decision should be based on the best currently available science. The science changes. But their quotas, their goals, their magic numbers, they don’t change.”

 

Unprecedented Public Outcry Over Delisting, Sport Hunting

The film comes at a time when people across the country have expressed unprecedented and passionate opposition to the proposed removal of Endangered Species Act protections, along with clear support for vigorous recovery measures. Over 800,000 people recently signed petitions to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Department of the Interior, asking for continued protection of Yellowstone grizzlies, rather than devolution of management to the states of Wyoming, Idaho and Montana, which are notoriously hostile to carnivores (link).

 

Dr. Jeremy Bruskotter, a social scientist with The Ohio State University said: “We have really good public data that suggests that while people are generally supportive of hunting, they are not supportive of trophy hunting. I don’t want to say no one, but let’s just say very few people are going out to hunt grizzly bears that are going to hunt them for food. Right? They’re hunting them for the purpose of trophy for self-gratification, and that from a public standpoint is very, very controversial. It’s something that the data show that clearly the public just does not support.”

 

Over 50 Indian Tribes have also formally opposed sport hunting the Great Bear, an animal they have long viewed as sacred (http://www.goaltribal.org/).

 

The Solution: Connect Populations, Improve Coexistence Practices, Keep Grizzlies Protected

In the film, scientists’ offer simple and clear recommendations: keep bears protected, redouble recovery efforts to connect the long-isolated Yellowstone grizzlies to neighboring sub-populations, allow bears to expand into suitable habitat, and improve practices that allow humans to coexist with bears. These measures will also improve the ability of bears to adapt to a changing climate.

 

Such steps are also consistent with widely shared public attitudes. Dr. Jeremy Bruskotter noted that: “Public opinion polling suggests that people generally want bears to be listed. They want to see further recovery efforts. We can glean some information from the public comments that were filed on behalf or in response to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services proposal to delist bears that suggest that people would like to see more grizzly bears in more places, and would like to see those populations protected.”

 

The Endangered Species Act matters for another important reason. According to Dr. David Mattson, “the ESA is one of the few laws that unambiguously gives all the American public a voice in management of wildlife. Otherwise, management of virtually all wildlife is in the hands of state wildlife management agencies, which is a problem. The American public should have a voice under other circumstances than just jeopardy. For example, with Yellowstone’s grizzly bears, regardless of whether you think they are endangered or not, here we have a population of a species that is of national interest. And the national public deserves a voice in their management, not only now but in perpetuity.”

 

The film concludes by asking viewers to request that President Obama respond to public opinion and withdraw the proposed rule to remove federal Endangered Species Act protections from the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem’s grizzly bears, and employ the best available science to promote the long overdue recovery of this iconic species.

NDP pledge to end grizzly hunt brings debate out of hibernation

By Ezra Black

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

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

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

They’ll be armed with votes and not rifles.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://www.thefreepress.ca/news/405699036.html

Students put pressure on premier to ban trophy hunting of grizzlies

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– Victoria News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spike in Yellowstone grizzly deaths tied to conflicts with humans

By Laura Zuckerman | SALMON, IDAHO Dec. 1

U.S. wildlife managers at Yellowstone National Park are reporting an unusually high number of grizzly bear deaths, 55, linked to humans this year in a trend believed tied to a growing number of the bruins harming livestock or challenging hunters over freshly killed game.

The uptick in bear deaths comes as the Obama administration says the population of roughly 690 bears in and around Yellowstone has come back from the brink of extinction and should be stripped of U.S. Endangered Species Act protections.

The plan, proposed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service earlier this year, opens the way for hunting in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, the Northern Rocky Mountain states that border the park.

The measure is strongly opposed by conservationists and Native American tribes but supported by sportsmen and ranchers who claim the number of conflicts will diminish by targeting bears that bounce hunters off freshly shot game or which harm livestock.

The carcasses of at least 55 Yellowstone area bears have been found so far this year, with most dying from human-related activities, according to figures compiled by the U.S. Geological Survey. Nearly half the grizzlies were killed by government bear managers for preying on cattle, sheep and the like.

Wildlife advocates fear that the final tally for 2016 will exceed the 61 bears known or believed to have died in the Yellowstone area last year, a high in the decades since such moralities have been tracked.

That compares to 28 grizzlies known or likely dead in 2014 and 29 in 2013, according to government records.

Gregg Losinksi, member of a federal and state team that oversees Yellowstone grizzlies, said some bears running into conflicts are seeking to expand their range into areas already occupied by humans or other grizzlies.

“As far as we’re concerned, the population is maxed out based on the available habitat and we’re seeing more and more deaths because of this density,” he said.

Conservationists say they are alarmed by the number of Yellowstone area bears that have died in 2016, the third year the overall population has fallen.

“The mortalities keep escalating and the population keeps dropping. We don’t think now is the time to remove Endangered Species Act protections; we need more time to study these trends,” said the Sierra Club’s Bonnie Rice.

(Reporting by Laura Zuckerman; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Sandra Maler)

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

by MARK HUME

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

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

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

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

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

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

But he said regulations could make such abuse unlikely.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“It’s good,” he said of bear meat.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, All Rights Reserved

Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, All Rights Reserved

Bear Viewing 12 Times More Beneficial For Economy Than Hunting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Calgary man banned from hunting, fined for importing Alaskan brown bear carcass

The Canadian Press

A Calgary man has been banned from hunting anywhere in the world for a year and fined thousands of dollars for illegally importing the carcass of an Alaskan brown bear.

READ MORE: Video of hunter killing Alberta bear with spear draws death threats, provincial ban coming

 Environment Canada says Jason John Clemett was found guilty in June and was ordered to pay $13,500 for violating the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act.
Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Will no politicians stand up for grizzlies?

by Judith Lavoie

  • November 7

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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by David Suzuki on March 10th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wolf And Coyote Traps Are Killing Grizzly Bears

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Coauthored by: Dwight Rodtka ­ Predator Control Specialist, Alberta Agriculture (retired) and
Sadie Parr ­ Executive Director Wolf Awareness Inc.

In Alberta, the grizzly bear has been listed as a Threatened species under Alberta’s Wildlife Act since 2010, and the provincial government has implementedmanagement measures to increase its numbers.

Hunting of grizzly bears is no longer allowed, and education promoting conflict prevention and coexistence among humans has been put into action.

However, there remains one important source of bear mortality which the government recognizes but has done little to eliminate: baited killing snares set for the capture of wolves and coyotes. Grizzlies are extremely susceptible to being caught in wolf or coyote killing snares. Although there are designated areas and seasons to protect grizzlies from falling victim to snares, these are quite ineffective in protecting bears.

As per the current Alberta Guide to Trapping Regulations, trappers are allowed to set out bait piles, usually including hunter kill scraps and road-killed animals. Snares set around bait stations are neither selective nor humane, and they kill or cripple whatever may be attracted to the bait pile. Snares are also commonly set on game trails with disastrous results.

“Non-target” catches are common, and often referred to as “by-catch”. Last winter, inSundre, Alberta, a minimum of fifteen cougars, several deer, a horse, and two eagles were accidentally caught in snares set for wolves and coyotes.

In another incident investigated by Dwight Rodtka, a retired Predator Control Specialist of 38 years for Alberta Agriculture, 12-15 wolf snares set in the Rocky Mountain House area, Alberta, captured and killed, within one week: a wolf pup, a deer, an adult black bear, and an adult grizzly bear.

Current legislation does not even require the reporting of nontarget species. Unfortunately, when bears are seeking the highest amount of calories in fall to ensure survival through the winter, a stage called hyperphagia, finding a bait pile is like hitting the jackpot. When snares are set, however, finding a bait pile also means death.

Snaring wolves is considered a recreational pursuit (i.e., trophy hunting) for trappers today and a source of income. Since 2007, the Alberta Wild Sheep Foundation and other private groups have funded bounties of $300 $350 per dead wolf.

Hundreds upon hundreds of wolves are killed every year for this bounty that also causes the by-catch death of grizzly bears and countless other animals. In this new millennium, Canada has returned to the old adage of “shoot, shovel, and shut up.”

Not only is the province intentionally allowing the squander of wolves and coyotes, both of which have important roles in maintaining balance and diversity in nature, but it is also blatantly allowing harm and death to threatened grizzly bears.

Alberta’s trapping regulations have established “seasonal snaring restrictions” in an effort to “reduce the potential for accidental harvest [KILLING] of grizzly bears”.

Unfortunately for the grizzlies, Alberta’s Trapping Regulations do not seem to take in account nor know about grizzly bear behavior, as snaring is allowed in many Wildlife Management Units when bears are still active.

Many units along the Eastern Slopes, Rocky Mountain Foothills, National Parks, and farmland are open for snaring from October 1 March 31. However, grizzlies commonly den in December and are often out on the landscape again in March. In other words, snaring occurs when bears may be at risk of being captured.

Dwight Rodtka lives in Wildlife Management Unit 324 where grizzlies are common. Each year, Rodtka sees 2-7 different grizzlies on his property, usually from March 19 to December 9. Clearly, grizzlies are exposed to killing snares for no reason other than the government’s desire to kill as many wolves and coyotes as possible.

Snaring wolves and coyotes in these wildlife management units where grizzly bears are active results in the loss of animals and the further endangerment of the species.