Posts Tagged Trophy Hunt

Trophy Hunting – Having Your Say

Despite the pouring rain and high winds, more than 200 people turned up in person  for the “Save B.C. Bears” rally on February 15, 2014 at the Legislature Buildings in Victoria, British Columbia. Supporters of all ages, carrying signs and placards, came to protest against the unsustainable, unethical and immoral trophy hunt in British Columbia. Speakers at the event included  nationally celebrated poetry “power couple” Lorna Crozier and Patrick Lane, MLA Andrew Weaver, eco-tourism operator Eric Boyum, bear guide Neil Shearer, and the legendary environmentalist Vicky Husband.

The aim of the event was to tell B.C.’s elected representatives that the trophy hunting of B.C.’s grizzly bears and black bears must stop, and that grizzly hunting in the Cariboo and Kootenays must not be re-opened this spring.
A recent report published in January 2014 by the Center for Responsible Tourism (CREST) in collaboration with Stanford University highlighted the eco-tourism dollars to be gained in British Columbia from the thousands of tourists who come to view rather than kill wildlife, taking home photographs rather than dead animal parts for display. CREST’s report Economic Impact of Bear Viewing and Bear Hunting in the Great Bear Rainforest of British Columbia, finds that bear viewing generates “12 times more in visitor spending than bear hunting and over 11 times in direct revenue for B.C.’s provincial government.” Furthermore, on a purely employment-related note, bear viewing companies directly employed an estimated 510 persons, compared with the 11 persons employed by guide hunting outfitters in 2012.
Tourists from all over the world flock to our province of Beautiful British Columbia. Take the B.C. ferry between Port Hardy and Prince Rupert during the spring and summer months and you will meet an array of visitors from Europe (many from Germany), Australia, Asia and North America who are excited to be experiencing Canada’s great outdoors, whether they’re here to surf, kayak, or capture wildlife on their cameras. Some lucky ones have arranged to go on a famed spirit bear and grizzly bear guided tour on the central and north coast, an experience of a lifetime! Without a doubt tourism in our province is only on the rise, and bear-viewing is a definite factor in this.

It’s from the grassroots level that we can make our voices heard and continue to keep this topic in the forefront of the media. On the day of the rally we collected 205 signed letters from rally participants. However, it was through the power of social media that those who could not attend added their voice. Through a SayZu Communications/Social Media experiment, people could text and tweet their opinions LIVE. The ripple effect was tremendous! In ONE HOUR,  450 people sent out 1,200 tweets and texts representing a total unique reach of 412,197 twitter feeds. The  hashtag #notrophyhunting even made the Canada twitter trends map!

You can keep the momentum going!

  • Write letters to elected officials and your local and national newspapers. Addresses can be found here. For more background information on the hunt visit Pacific Wild’s Trophy Hunt Action page.
  • Educate those around you by hosting a film screening of Bear Witness, a film by B.C. Coastal First Nations
  • Sign the PETITION
  • Utilize social media #notrophyhunt @ChristyClarkBC.

An Insights West poll from November 2013 finds 9/10 British Columbians are against trophy hunting.  ARE YOU?

Keep us posted on facebook and twitter @pacificwild

Many thanks!

Colette

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The Great Bear Rainforest – Taking the Inside – OUT!

Spring, Summer and Autumn are busy, exciting and often hectic times for ‘happenings’ not only in the field, but also further afield from our base in the Great Bear Rainforest of British Columbia. While my colleagues install hydrophones and field cameras in even more remote locations to monitor cetacean life and capture rare camera footage of wildlife in the wilderness, and work closely with First Nations communities on the No Tankers campaign, I am busy on the outreach side of Pacific Wild.  I firmly believe by using these visual and auditory techniques, we can raise public awareness to pipeline/tanker issues and further threats from industrial logging, LNG, trophy hunting and open net-cage fish farms. This beautiful short video was just released which illustrates the wildlife, underwater ecosystems, and temperate rainforest we are dedicated to protecting.

The spring started off in spectacular fashion at the Solidarity for Salmon event on March 31st in Victoria. Along with 7 other people, including a life-long supporter and great friend of Pacific Wild, Mary Vickers, we proudly pushed M’ia, a 27 foot spawning sockeye salmon puppet, through the streets of Victoria, B.C. to the Legislature buildings. M’ia is a symbol of what films like the insightful yet disturbing Salmon Confidential are opening the general public’s awareness up to.

We got even more ‘hands on’ at the Creatively United Festival in Victoria on April 19-21.  Filling an aquarium with various kinds of kelp and other ocean matter, we dropped in a portable hydrophone to invoke listening to the ‘depths’ off of recordings from the Pacific Wild hydrophone network in the Great Bear Sea. Sharing our tent at the festival was one of my personal heroes, Charlie Russell, the Grizzly Bear Legend. He is a gentleman that I am most in awe of for his life work on bear behaviour and their emotional and physical relationship with humans and human interaction. He is truly a legend. I thank him dearly for watching Pacific Wild remote field camera footage with us and treasure his insight into coastal bear behaviour.

June saw the release of STAND. Without a doubt, the absolute highlight so far of the summer was to be at the screening of STAND in Bella Bella with the young adults from Bella Bella Community School. Featured in the film, these students put such heart, soul, and effort into building their personal paddleboards. Their voices are eloquent and strong in voicing their opinion for an oil-free coast. This award-winning film is a ‘must see’, and is currently being screened across North America.

Throughout the summer, various kids camps have been implementing and incorporating lessons, ideas and learning from The Salmon Bears and The Sea Wolves, books by Ian McAllister and Nicolas Read. It has been a joy to work with children and the instructors in watching remote field camera footage, listening to hydrophones, recreating the GBR in camp forests.  Being involved in youth education and nature outreach programs is a passion of mine. If you, your child’s school, or educational facility would be interested to learn how to incorporate the nature of the Great Bear Rainforest into your classroom, please contact me – colette@pacificwld.org

We would love to see you at upcoming events….

July 31The Fortune Wild premiere at The Imperial (319 Main St. Vancouver). Doors open at 8pm.This event is a fundraiser for Pacific Wild and Haida Gwaii CoAST (Communities Against Super Tankers), featuring live music, an exhibit and silent auction of Ian McAllister’s stunning photography and of course, the first ever public screening of Fortune Wild!

August 23+24 – Join an amazing line-up of musicians, bands, and artists at the first annual Otalith Music Festival in beautiful Ucluelet, B.C. Feauturing Current Swell, The Cave Singers, Jon and Roy, White Buffalo and so much more. Otalith are looking for volunteers!

September – Release of The Great Bear Sea – Exploring the Marine Life of a Pacific Paradise. This new book by Ian McAllister and Nicholas Read explores the intricate relationship between this mysterious underwater ecosystem and the life it supports. Watch an interview with Ian McAllister discussing the book on Global News, July 31, 2013. The book is available to purchase on the website.

September 14 – Salmon Festival – If you find yourself in the Great Bear Rainforest, namely in Bella Bella on this day, join us for this community event – The Wild Gourmet Salmon Cook-Off – Masterchef Style in the great outdoors!

Mark November 21st in your calendars for a Gala night at The Garth Homer Society in Victoria. Featuring a presentation and slideshow by Ian McAllister on underwater photography as well as a gallery opening of themes from the Great Bear Rainforest created by incredibly talented Garth Homer clients.  More details to come on this event.

As you can tell, I love my “Jill-of-all-Trades’ work at Pacific Wild. We are a very close team, and I am motivated by them everyday. Who wouldn’t be? Check out blog posts by staff on their activities in the field. Most recently the sail training internship with SEAS (Supporting Emerging Aboriginal Stewardships) Initiative.

Huge thank you to all the volunteers who help myself, and the Pacific Wild team in making these outreach programs, events and festivals come together. Please contact me at colette@pacificwild.org if you are interested in volunteering, hosting a film event, want to know ways to take action, want to bring the life and nature of the Great Bear Rainforest into your classroom, or just to say hello!

Hope to see you around!

Colette

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A Park for Killing

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This past long weekend I traveled by speedboat up Burke Inlet to the Kwatna River–The Kwatna watershed is a powerhouse in the world of grizzly bear strongholds with its vast sedge-filled estuary and Sitka spruce floodplain forest surrounded by snow-capped granite mountains.

The lower portion of the valley was recently celebrated as one of the newly protected conservancies in the Great Bear Rainforest.  By all accounts it should be the perfect place to view wildlife in a wild setting.

Upon entering the inlet I am met out in the bay by Jason Moody, one of the Nuxalk Bear Patrol Watchmen from Bella Coola.  Son of the late Nuxalk Chief Qwatsinas, Jason is one of a core group of First Nations who are involved in stewardship and monitoring throughout the Great Bear Rainforest.  Jason informs me that two groups of trophy hunters have just been dropped off and as I scan the estuary I can see the fully camouflaged hunters working their way up the river.

Jason’s presence here uncovers what appears to be the illegal transportation of one of the groups of hunters.   It is illegal under the Wildlife Act for resident hunters to pay for transportation from someone without a valid transporting license.   This law ensures that only licensed guide outfitters, or those with a valid transport license, can legally move hunters in BC.

The hunters upriver have just come from the mainland community of Bella Coola and while the remote town has made progress in recent years transitioning from a resource liquidation economy to one that values natural capital I am reminded that it still suffers from the reputation of being the bear killing capital of B.C.

Some things have changed though.  A newly constructed bear viewing platform just upriver of Bella Coola, overlooking the Atnarko river, is offering people a close-up viewing experience of coastal grizzlies as they feed for salmon.  Each year more and more businesses and guides are developing wildlife viewing businesses that contributes millions of dollars to the local economy, and it is estimated to triple in value in the coming years.

Saying goodbye to Jason, I travel with the rising tide up the estuary.   The joy of being in a river system like this in the peak of spring has been replaced by the painful anticipation of rifle shots and dead wildlife.  Scanning the estuary I find two white faces peering out of the dark edge of the rainforest.  They are in a blind with a commanding view of the bears’ favourite sedge meadows.  I can see the stainless barrels and hi-powered scopes poking through the spruce and cedar boughs.    What should be a simple call to the local Conservation Officer Service in Williams Lake reporting poachers in a park turns to frustration.   Because here, in the middle of the Great Bear Rainforest, in a fully legislated Conservancy area (that is meant to be managed as a Class A Provincial park), it is perfectly legal to hunt wolves, bears and other carnivores.

A bear emerges from the estuary between my boat and the hidden hunters.  I am in a good location anchored in the middle of the estuary and I can access almost all parts of it with my flat-bottomed boat.   A mom and her large three-year old cub with heads down, appear to begin grazing on sedge further down from me.   I can see the hunters nervously glancing from me to the bears and I wonder if they would risk a shot with me so close.   Another lone female appears briefly.  It is not illegal to kill a female grizzly bear and although frowned upon by government, it is estimated that over 30% of bears killed on the coast are female.   Another estimate that gets thrown about and should be of concern to anyone traveling in parks where trophy hunting is allowed, is that 20% of bears shot at and hit are never recovered.  This dramatically increases human safety concerns as there is a good chance that a bear in a park may be wounded.

I consider chasing the bears off but I worry that it might put them closer to the rifles instead of further apart.   Daylight slowly fades and I stay anchored in the middle of the estuary for the night.

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First light has two wolves coming from up-river; each one takes a bank of a side channel, hoping for a Sitka black-tailed deer or a sleepy Canada goose.   The human hunters are back in their hidden blind.  Perhaps they never left.  They have the advantage of being downwind of the wolves  I start the engine and move up a side channel to push the wolves to the opposite side of the river.   Their reddish coats contrast against the bright luminescent sedge fields.  Again I see nervous glances coming from the forest edge between the wolves and me.   Wolves, such as these are considered a bonus for trophy hunters, a species that can be killed with no special permit or mandatory reporting requirements.  Basically they are classified as vermin to the B.C. government.  Even a goose, duck or deer hunter has to buy a special permit to kill any of those species, but for wolves no special permits are required.  Today, at least these two wolves will see another sun rise.

Herding wolves and bears away from trophy hunters in a park is absurd and I wonder why it should have to happen at all.   What exactly are these so called “protected areas” actually protecting?   Parks, such as this, are places that the majority of British Columbians and countless people abroad, believe offer a certain basic level of protection for wildlife.

We were told a few years back by the Provincial government that the trophy hunt, even in protected areas, is too important economically to rural economies to shut down.  Even though bear viewing as a growth industry generates more revenue and employs more British Columbians – by far – than bear killing.

Nevertheless we rose to the occasion and the local guide-outfitting license here in the Bella Coola area was purchased and the guide outfitter was fairly compensated and the commercial incentive to continue the hunt was ostensibly taken off the table.  The follow up  meeting with the Minister of Environment to explain that the commercial incentive was now  eliminated (at least for part of the coast) and that a new economy based on wildlife viewing could be actively supported.   But the previous Minister of Environment, Barry Penner didn’t blink when he said that the bear hunt will continue, even in parks, because  it is “scientifically managed”.   No mention of jobs, no mention of where this so called peer-reviewed science to support the hunt came from.  No mention of the ethical considerations of killing animals for sport in parks.  No mention of the opposition to this anachronistic practice by the majority of British Columbians including a significant number of subsistence hunters.

Of course government science in B.C. for the most part, includes tallying the trophy hunter comment cards at the end of each season that apparently indicate how many bears are roaming the wilds of our province.    Like the recent dismantling of the Forest Act and other protective measures that once safeguarded our ancient forests, our forests and wildlife are now managed under a “results-based code.” 

The recently protected conservancies in the Great Bear remain “paper parks” while trophy hunters are allowed to kill bears and other wildlife for sport.

The 2012 coastal trophy hunt continues through June and starts up again in September.   We will continue to witness, document and confront along with the Guardian Watchmen, the Coastal Grizzly Patrol and others.    Please make your voice heard so we can see celebrate the day that coastal wildlife are afforded true sanctuary.

Ian McAllister

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