Posts Tagged Wolves

Save B.C. Wolves

BC Government Commits to Killing 180 Wolves
– Declining caribou population blamed –

January 15th, 2015

Pacific Wild is condemning today’s announcement by the B.C. government to slaughter over 180 wolves by aerial shooting.

“After decades of destroying critical caribou habitat, dismantling the Forest Practices Code and gutting environmental oversight and protection, the BC government in a final desperate act of cruelty has declared a war on wolves.” said Ian McAllister, Conservation Director for Pacific Wild.  “When will this government learn that killing wolves will not bring endangered caribou back in the absence of habitat protection.” he further stated.

An unprecedented amount of submissions were made in response to the B.C. governments draft Wolf Management Plan in 2013 with the overwhelming majority opposed to government sponsored wolf killing.

Wolves are highly social and intelligent animals and research shows that predator kill programs increase reproductive rates in wolves and destabilizes pack structure causing more predation of livestock and other non-native prey.  It is the view of Pacific Wild that this announcement is scientifically unsound and that wolves are being used as a scapegoat to divert attention from the fundamental problem of ongoing habitat destruction and displacement caused by human encroachment.

“This is not management, it’s a tax-payer funded kill program of one of our most iconic species.” he further stated.   “This is not only a horrific day for wolves in British Columbia but a sad day for public engagement and policy that will surely bring international condemnation to our borders.”

Ian McAllister, Conservation Director – Pacific Wild

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Pacific Wild is a BC based non-profit wildlife conservation organization and a leading advocate for changes to wolf management in British Columbia.   www.pacificwild.org

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Spring in the Rainforest

Spring in the Rainforest – By April Bencze

June 2014

It is difficult to understand a place you have never been before. Pacific Wild introduced me to the ecosystems thriving in the Great Bear Rainforest on British Columbia’s wild coast long before I came here. They have unveiled the behaviours and interactions of wildlife using non-invasive, high-quality camera systems streaming live from remote locations, bringing you a piece of the Rainforest, wherever you may be in the world. Before I ever set foot here, Pacific Wild brought me face to face with wolves, bears and marine life with still images that captivated, inspired and introduced me to the many faces of this place.

I first met the wolves of this coast through Ian McAllister’s photography and conservation efforts. Then I met the bears, followed by the inhabitants of the underwater world. Ian’s images and those from the remote cameras brought me into the heart of a place I had never been, uncovering the lives of creatures I would not have known existed, like the spirit bear. I felt connected and driven to protect the Great Bear Rainforest, and all those who call it home. As a diver and wildlife photographer, I knew my future would be tied to British Columbia’s central coast, due to the strength with which it affected me. So here I am, at Pacific Wild headquarters operating the remote cameras from the Float Lab.

I was born and raised in Campbell River, on the east coast of Vancouver Island in Southern British Columbia. I spent a year scuba diving in Australia and Indonesia, before returning to my home waters to dive my days away. Photography slipped itself into my life through an urge to share the underwater world with the people around me. It quickly became much more and I find myself in the pursuit of a life dedicated to conservation of the natural world through photography. There is a responsibility to the subject after the shutter is pressed and an image is created. It is an obligation to share their story, and unfortunately many of the lives I am photographing are threatened.

This is what brings me to the Great Bear Rainforest, to do what I can to help protect the wildlife from the many threats they are facing. Pacific Wild has been an inspiration and I am thrilled to be volunteering my time to aid in their conservation efforts. Three weeks ago, I loaded up my touring bicycle with my camping equipment, camera gear and a cooler of food. Six days of riding from Campbell River brought me to Port Hardy, where I jumped on a short flight to Bella Bella.

I am blown away by the diverse habitats and life seen in my short time exploring this coast. I have traveled to many corners of the world, yet nothing can compare to the natural beauty I have witnessed in my time here. After the past few weeks of listening to whale song on the hydrophones and observing the wildlife in the Great Bear Rainforest, I am beginning to understand just how devastating supertankers in these waters would be. It would be destructive for the people, the land, the wild and marine life of the most untouched place I have ever seen. I’m incredibly thankful to the First Nations people and conservation groups who are working, and will continue to work, tirelessly to stand up for our coast.

Yesterday, Ian and I left Pacific Wild headquarters to do some camera maintenance. We headed out by boat during calm seas. As we passed numerous small, rocky islands, it was apparent that it was June in the Great Bear Rainforest. Harbour seals with newborn pups dotted the shorelines, sea otters bobbed in the kelp, and Oystercatchers trilled from their nests. New life was buzzing all around us as we cleaned the camera housings and completed some electrical maintenance.

The remote camera systems are proving to be a powerful tool in telling the story of this coast. Right now, one of the cameras is trained on a Steller sea lion rookery on the outer coast. It is capturing the birthing and nursing of this year’s pups on the live feed and distributing it to the world. I am in awe recording the intimate daily behaviors of the sea lions, in a way I have never been able to when out photographing them in the field. Please watch a compilation of sea lion and bird footage I pieced together in the weeks I have been here. The stories of the numerous species of wildlife continue to unfold before my eyes with these cameras. I hope you are watching the live cameras and meeting the local wildlife who call this coast home as well!

April

Follow Pacific Wild on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @pacificwild

Help support our Digital Technitian Geoff Campbell and his friend Mikhayla’s “Ride for the Wild” Indiegogo campaign. Geoff and Mikhayla are undertaking a A2,500km bike expedition down the Pacific Coast to raise money to fight pipeline development & increased tanker traffic in British Columbia.

 

 

 

 

 

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From D.C. to B.C. Part V: Launch of the Indiegogo Campaign!

By Loren Clark-Moe

This is the post that I have been oh so excited to write from the moment I got here and I cannot believe that I get to be part of this effort! In my very first post I mentioned a video that we were working on. I also promised that there would be more on that in a bit. Well, here it is!

My first visit to the Great Bear Rainforest was in September, where I was introduced to the region’s stunning beauty and incredible wildlife. On the second day up here, I went kayaking and our group spotted a pack of wolves on the shore. We spent the next few hours following this wolfpack, as they ran around their territory and met up with more members of their pack. It was an amazing, magical introduction to the Great Bear Rainforest that left me totally enamored.

That same night, I learned of Pacific Wild’s Great Bear LIVE program that brings the world of the Great Bear Rainforest straight to us online. I was fascinated to hear Ian and Karen’s amazing stories about being able to document wolves, sea lions, sea otters, whales, and anything else that comes into view in a non-invasive way. A few weeks later, I learned that Pacific Wild was moving forward to expand this program and create even more ways to capture this world on camera for the world’s viewing pleasure.

And so, without further ado, I am beyond pleased to help announce Pacific Wild’s Indiegogo fundraising campaign to expand the Great Bear LIVE program!

Hopefully you are signed up for Pacific Wild’s Great Bear LIVE Alerts that let everyone know when the wolves are out fishing. That camera feed is part of the Great Bear LIVE program, and lets us watch a very active part of the rainforest all day long. What it currently cannot do, however, is capture the nighttime and underwater aspects of this world, and this is what Pacific Wild wants to give us all access to.

The campaign is asking for everyone’s help to raise money to purchase a night vision camera and an underwater camera so that Pacific Wild can bring the world a comprehensive view of this amazing ecosystem. If the campaign is successful, Pacific Wild will be able to install a night vision camera along with the current daytime camera in the estuary, providing 24/7 coverage of this very active part of the rainforest. Pacific Wild will also be able to place underwater camera in different waterways, to capture everything going on beneath the water’s surface.

What I love about this campaign is that this is something that every single person with an internet connection will be able to use and enjoy. You will quite literally see the result of your contribution in action as you watch even more of this amazing world come to life. Oh, and in terms of incentives to contribute, did I mention that (in addition to other great giveaways) anyone who contributes will be entered into a raffle for a chance to control the cameras once they’ve been installed?! Don’t worry, I’ve tried it a bit up here and its pretty easy to get the hang of.

Here’s the video for the campaign, where Pacific Wild team member Max explains everything about the campaign and why it’s so important!

So please go check out the campaign and spread the word that the Great Bear LIVE program is expanding to bring us even more of the wolves, sea lions, eagles, sea otters and whales that we love to watch! With our support, Pacific Wild will be able to give us a front row seat to images from the nocturnal and underwater worlds of the Great Bear, so let’s make it happen!

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From D.C. to B.C. Part III

by Loren Clark-Moe

Hi everyone! October in the Great Bear Rainforest continues to be amazing!

One of the first things I heard about Pacific Wild was their Great Bear LIVE program, and in particular, their camera along a riverbed where we can watch live footage of wolves and their pups feeding on salmon. It’s amazing footage, but this camera has a unique challenge: just like their domesticated distant cousins, wolf pups love finding things to chew on, and they keep finding the cable that runs from the Great Bear LIVE camera to the power supply. The cable can’t hurt the wolf pups, but the wolf pups can definitely cut out the camera feed!

We awoke on Wednesday to find that the pups had once again found the cable, so Rob and I took the boat out to the riverbed to make some repairs. Rob knows everything about cables and wiring, but it’s slightly different when the cable you want to work on has been knawed through in the middle of a river. So, while standing in knee-deep water, I held all the wires out of the water while Rob meticulously wound and sealed them all back together. We checked the systems and the camera was back up, so all we needed now was for the wolves to come visit again!

Loren investigating the cable that connects the remote camera to its' power supply.  It turns out that wolf pups had gnawed right through the cable!

Loren investigating the cable that connects the remote camera to its’ power supply. It turns out that wolf pups had gnawed right through the cable!

On Thursday morning, I heard a happy yell from Diana, announcing that the wolves were back on camera! We spent the morning watching 5 wolves lounging, eating and playing together; I hope you got to see it too! If you haven’t yet, be sure to sign up for Pacific Wild’s Great Bear LIVE Alerts so you’ll know when we’ve caught something on camera. We were all really happy to be able to watch these beautiful animals for such a long time; even Diana’s puppy Clay was excited!

Clay the dog, intently watching a pack of wolf pups on the live camera feed.

Clay the dog, intently watching a pack of wolf pups on the live camera feed.

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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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