Monthly Archives: March 2014

Bears Are My Neighbours, And You Wouldn’t Slaughter Your Neighbours by Chelsea Turner, Huffington Post

Watching a spirit bear at age two with my parents Jeff and Sue Turner on Princess Royal Island. (Photo: Charlie Russell)

Watching a spirit bear at age two with my parents Jeff and Sue Turner on Princess Royal Island. (Photo: Charlie Russell)

People ask me a lot why I stepped into the fight against bear trophy hunting (that is, killing bears for pleasure, then taking the head or paws as a “trophy”).

There is a stereotype about the sort of people who care about bears. They are made out to be sensitive city folk who can’t stomach the realities of life in the rest of B.C. “We must save those poor bears!” the Vancouverite exclaims over his $5 soy latte, having never seen a bear in his life, having no comprehension that small town B.C. is simply crawling with bears in need of firm government control.

That’s the stereotype anyway.

My story is not that simple. I live in Vancouver today, only a stones-throw from the urban thoroughfare of Granville Street, but I grew up outside a town of only 200 people, and spent large swaths of my childhood in the remote wilderness.

I’ve seen many hundreds of bears in my life. Grizzly bears grazing in the grassy foothills of the Rocky Mountains, mysterious white spirit bears slipping through the lush mossy trees of the Great Bear Rainforest, and curious black bears wandering across our lawn or climbing trees when spooked by our family’s Jack Russell terrier.

Bears to me are neighbours. They are not to be pitied and cooed over, not to be feared and warped into the hunter’s bogeyman. They are simply forces of nature. To see a grizzly bear in close proximity is to witness something so beautiful, so much a part of the landscape, that you can’t help but think, “This animal belongs here.” They are like the soul of the Earth made animate.

So how did I come to know bears this well?  Continue Reading at   

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Stephen Hume: Grizzly hunt fails test of science, experts say

In 2001, about 50 bears were killed. By 2007, the annual kill was more than 350. The government claims killing up to six per cent of grizzlies a year is sustainable based on its estimate of 15,000 bears, writes Stephen Hume.

In 2001, about 50 bears were killed. By 2007, the annual kill was more than 350. The government claims killing up to six per cent of grizzlies a year is sustainable based on its estimate of 15,000 bears, writes Stephen Hume. March 23, 2014 

Government misrepresents the research used to justify its decisions

Provincial management of the annual trophy hunt that has yielded a 500-per-cent increase in the number of grizzlies killed since the Liberals ended a moratorium in 2001 fails the most basic scientific standards, says a letter from four B.C. scientists to the international journal Science. 

In 2001, about 50 bears were killed. By 2007, the annual kill was more than 350. The government claims killing up to six per cent of grizzlies a year is sustainable based on its estimate of 15,000 bears. But the scientists say such uncertainty surrounds grizzly numbers and they could be as low as 8,000. And even based on the higher population, grizzly kills routinely exceed sustainable mortality.

Ten First Nations worried by numbers banned grizzly trophy hunting in traditional territories in 2012, although they can’t enforce a moratorium. Surveys show almost 90 per cent of the province’s citizens want the hunt stopped. Yet this year government increased grizzly tags issued through its trophy lottery.

“It is alarming that purported scientific management often proceeds without the hallmarks of science — transparency, intelligibility, and rigorous evidence,” write Kyle Artelle, John Reynolds, Paul Paquet and Chris Darimont. The scientists are from Simon Fraser University, the University of Victoria and Raincoast Conservation Foundation.

“We propose that wildlife managers be held to the same level of scrutiny as research scientists through independent oversight similar to the peer-review process,” the scientists write in a letter published Friday under the headline When Science-Based Management Isn’t. “This would incorporate science into management, ensure that the best available evidence is used in management decisions and improved accountability to the public for whom wildlife are ostensibly managed.”

The four scientists recently published research that found that between 2001 and 2011, in half of all the hunted bear populations, human-caused death of grizzlies exceeded mortality rates deemed sustainable by government biologists.

“In addition,” the scientists write, “failure to properly account for uncertainty in estimates of population sizes, poaching rates, and population growth parameters meant that hunting targets might have been too high. Surprisingly, despite the ensuing media attention, the government reopened hunting in previously over-hunted populations.”

They make particular objection to the government’s apparent misrepresentation of actual research findings in publicly justifying its hunting policy.

The scientists say the province “borrowed” the language in their research to justify expanding the hunt although that decision ran counter to the researchers’ conclusions. Furthermore, they say, government claimed that another recent study confirmed the hunting policy’s sustainability when, in fact, the paper made no such claims.

“This decision raises doubts about the rigour of wildlife management and government policy in the region,” the scientists write.

“Such outcomes reflect a wider problem that often arises when scientific evidence exposes flaws in preferred government policies. Governments can make ‘science-based’ claims without being held to the same standard of transparency and scrutiny expected from scientific researchers.”

In the journal Nature, an article about the controversy notes that the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora now bans import of any products from B.C. grizzly hunts.

The ban follows B.C.’s failure to implement a grizzly bear strategy promised in 2003 based on better population assessments, it says.

Nature quotes Paquet, a researcher with the University of Victoria and the Rainforest Conservation Foundation:

“Wildlife management wraps itself in science and presents itself as being scientific, but really, when you examine it, it isn’t true.”

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun 

Who are the REAL Conservationists?


Posted on March 8, 2014 by



Our Wisconsin, Our Wildlife

Killing is not Conservation

For the past century we have heard from hunting groups, their lobbyists, and individual hunters, trappers, and hounders, that they are “conservationists” because it is the money from their licenses, fees, and taxes that pay for the “fish and game departments under their control. While there is little dispute that these agencies are indeed funded through these mechanisms I rarely hear anyone ask why this is generally the only funding tool for these agencies. That can be summed up in one word: control. After market hunting and predator eradication programs nearly eradicated many species during the 19th and early 20th centuries several influential hunters, such as Theodore Roosevelt (when he wasn’t shooting an ostrich sitting on her nest in Africa) and Aldo Leopold, helped spearhead programs to place controls on what was until that time unlimited killing for various purposes. Influence from non-hunter preservationists like John Muir were instrumental as well. These programs included protected national parks and the eventual creation of a wildlife “refuge” system. Noble goals that did indeed bring back many species from the brink of extinction and attempted to correct the greed and destruction wrought by market hunters and trappers. This is where the double-edged sword rears its head. Market and trophy hunters and trappers were responsible for nearly wiping out countless species, yet they also are the first to claim credit for certain species being allowed to rebound into the numbers we see today. Did they do this out of the goodness of their hearts? Of course not. With these people there always has to be a motive and that motive is making sure that money flowed in to pay for the various “fish and game” departments that sprung up through the 20th century. By selling hunting, fishing, and trapping licenses these agencies can continue to fund their agency and protect their employment. To keep the money flowing in there need to be animals that people want to kill and exploit and be willing to pay to do so. This structure has led to many state “fish and game” departments turning their states into what are essentially giant game farms where the numbers of deer, elk, and other “valuable” species are kept at artificially high number to keep the license money flowing while providing almost unlimited targets for hunters, trappers, and hounders.

Hunters, trappers, hounders, and their lobbying groups never miss an opportunity to fly the false flag that states they are the real “conservationists” because they fund the vast majority of “fish and game” departments across the nation. They somehow have deluded the public into believing that killing is conservation and without them no wild animals or wild lands would exist. They like to pretend that “non-consumptive” users refuse to help fund these agencies and lands and they bear the burden of “protecting” wild lands. What they fail to mention is that the last thing they want is to allow non-consumptive users to have a seat at the table that would inevitably come with their increased funding of “fish and game” agencies. Not once have I ever heard non-consumptive user groups or individuals refuse to step up and help fund true conservation. Does anyone for a second think that the hunters, trappers, hounders, and their affiliated groups would give up any piece of their complete and total domination of “conservation” issues? States agencies like the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources constantly complain about a lack of funding due to a decrease of hunters. Instead of reaching out to non-consumptive users and asking them to be partners they instead pushed for legislative action that would create programs to “recruit” more hunters, trappers, hounders, and fishers. Instead of reaching out to real conservation groups and forming partnerships to help reform the funding structures of agencies like the DNR, they instead turned to programs that have the intent of luring more people into the bloodsports that fund their agency. Recent studies have shown that Wisconsin is a major destination for wildlife watching and that brings in billions of dollars in tourism revenue. Instead of making an attempt to tap into those opportunities Wisconsin doubled down on their “recruitment” efforts for hunters, trappers, and hounders. A law passed in 2012 established a program that MANDATED hunting and trapping classes be offered in state public high schools FOR CREDIT. That same law also opened up state parks to hunting, hounding, and trapping. Instead of courting wildlife watchers and other “non-consumptive” users the state of Wisconsin doubled down on their attempt to attract more and more people to the bloodsports. Hikers, birders, and wildlife watchers be damned. Try not to step in a trap while enjoying nature in our state parks. Hope that a stray bullet doesn’t find you when taking a hike in those parks. Also make sure that marauding packs of hound dogs don’t scare away all of the birds and other wildlife that you are attempting to watch.

Who are the real conservationists? Myself and most wildlife advocates that I know would gladly pay taxes and fees on the “non-consumptive” equipment that we use for hiking and wildlife watching. But we want a seat at the table and that is exactly why agencies like the Wisconsin DNR will never push for that type of funding. It is all about control and don’t for a second think that the DNR and their “partners” from the hunting groups and their lobbyists want to relinquish one bit of that control. I know that I am willing to pay whatever is necessary to make sure our wild lands and our wildlife is protected. That means ALL wildlife and not just what hunting groups deem to have “value.” I am perfectly content paying my fair share and just knowing that those lands and species will be protected. I don’t need to TAKE anything away from that other than a piece of mind. Can the same be said for hunters, trappers, hounders, and other fake “conservationists?” It seems to me that they are only willing to pay so that they have a total monopoly on power and to assure there are targets for them to kill when the urge strikes them. They have to TAKE something in order to feel as though their funding is justified. Does anyone think for a second that the vast majority of hunters, trappers, and hounders would give one dime if they couldn’t TAKE something for their effort? Does anyone think that they would give one cent if it didn’t enable them to have complete and total control over wildlife and wild lands? Of course not. It is obvious who the REAL conservationists are and we need to work to change those fake perceptions that hunting groups have perpetrated for the past century plus. The media even buys into this fallacy when they refer to hunting groups as “conservation groups” and call wildlife advocates “animal rights groups.” Hunting groups and “fish and game” departments  use fluffy words like “harvest” to describe killing and “production” and “recruitment” to describe animals being born and growing up to become targets. The media also latches on to these begin words and uses them in stories describing the killing of wildlife because they know words like “suffocation,” “crushing,” “shooting,” and “killing” are far more blunt and descriptive than nice little words like “harvest.”

This takes us back to the original question: Who are the REAL conservationists? Non-consumptive users want wildlife and wild lands preserved so that they are there for viewing and peaceful use. For the most part we take nothing from those lands except for memories and maybe photographs. On the opposite end hunters, trappers, and hounders do nothing but take, take, take. They kill millions of wildlife each year for pleasure, profit, and some for food. Trappers litter the landscape with thousands and thousands of traps that indiscriminately kill millions of animals nationwide each year mostly for profit. In Wisconsin and several other states hounders unleash packs of vicious dogs that are allowed to run rampant through woods and fields targeting bears, coyotes, raccoons, bobcats, and in Wisconsin, wolves. These dogs often illegally engage the wildlife leading to injury and death for both the wildlife and dogs. In Wisconsin hounders, under the guise of “training,” are allowed to let their dogs to run rampant through most of the year. If those dogs happen to come across a wolf or wolves defending their territory bloody fights often ensue leading to the death of the dog. Following the dog being killed by the wolf the Wisconsin DNR then makes sure the hounder receives a nice fat $2500 check for their “beloved” dog. Does it sound like hunters, trappers, and hounders are doing any “conserving” in these descriptions? To me it sure seems like a whole lot of taking, taking, taking and very little if any conserving.

Again, who are the REAL conservationists here? From my perspective it is pretty obvious who the REAL conservationists are and it sure isn’t the takers pretending to hold that role today.


Stephen Hume: ‘Brutish’ Columbia’s trophy bear hunt puts us on display, Vancouver Sun

A study published last winter found that almost a third of the 3,500 grizzlies shot by trophy hunters across British Columbia from 2001 to 2011 were females.

A study published last winter found that almost a third of the 3,500 grizzlies shot by trophy hunters across British Columbia from 2001 to 2011 were females.


In another couple of weeks, from the Kootenays to the coast and the Spatsizi to the Okanagan, the spring bear hunt gets underway.

This opening occurs just as mother bears emerge from winter dens with their recently-born cubs.

Whoa! What better time for sporting types to grab high-powered weapons — non-resident trophy hunters are also required to hire a professional guide to lead them to the unsuspecting victims — and get out into the great outdoors to blast hungry grizzlies as they shake off the torpor of hibernation and start foraging for limited food supplies in easily identified areas.

Government regulators ask hunters to “please avoid harvesting female grizzly bears.” But while pumping bullets into a bear in a family group may be against the rules, blasting momma bear is OK — provided the rest of the family isn’t in the immediate picture.

A study published last winter found that almost a third of the 3,500 grizzlies shot by trophy hunters across British Columbia from 2001 to 2011 were females. Shooting a fertile female is the same as shooting all the cubs she might have borne, of course, which is presumably why the lead scientist on the study likened the practice to playing biological Russian roulette with species survival.

In other places, spring bear hunts are denounced as unethical because of the risk of shooting a mother bear when still-tiny cubs are hiding and can’t be seen, thus condemning them to a lingering death by starvation or, hopefully, a quick death from some other predator.

In 1999, Ontario suspended its spring hunt for black bears when it discovered that a shocking 274 cubs had been orphaned when their mothers were shot by hunters who were too quick on the trigger.

Suggest that this barbarous practice has outlived any economic rationale and government ministers froth cheerily about the $350 million that hunting contributes to the provincial economy every year and how vitally important trophy hunting is in preserving tradition.

That was the line that environment minister Steve Thomson took last September. He was quoted citing that figure by The Canadian Press. But last week, caught in the headlights of a legislative committee examining budget estimates, he sang a different song, one that had a lot fewer zerosin it.

How much direct revenue does the province actually earn from allowing trophy hunters to go out and kill grizzlies for the pleasure of posing with their corpses for photos?

Why, it’s $414,000, not $350 million.

Considered another way, the trophy hunt for grizzlies contributes about half as much to the economy as the government apportions to 19 cabinet ministers and their deputy ministers and assistant deputy ministers as an executive car allowance.

And put even more succinctly, the province’s payback from trophy hunting among vulnerable grizzly bear populations amounts to 0.001 per cent of total provincial revenue.

By way of contrast, another recent study argues that the small and still relatively undeveloped bear-watching sector of nature tourism in the province already generates more than 12 times the revenue in visitor spending and 50 times the number of jobs generated by letting people kill grizzlies for fun.

Simple common sense observes that you only get to kill a bear once for your vanity photo with the corpse. t with a live bear, you can grab vanity selfies year after year for as long as its natural lifespan permits it to return to the viewing platform.

Put the bear at the centre of the economic equation and it’s clear the live animal generates a much greater ratio of jobs and economic activity than the dead one. The dead bear generates one payment and perhaps a couple of jobs — once; the live bear’s value in terms of bear watching is multiplied by the seasons in its lifespan. If the average lifespan of a grizzly in the wild is 25 years, then the multiplier for the live bear is 25 to one for the dead bear.

So whenever government pontificates about sustainable trophy hunting, remember the newspeak in Orwell’s 1984. You know, “war is peace,” “freedom is slavery,” “ignorance is strength” — and using a valuable self-renewing resource once and throwing it away is sustainability.

Most of us, surveys repeatedly confirm, don’t consider slaughtering an iconic species solely for pleasure to be our inviolable provincial heritage. And remember, this isn’t about hunting — most of us have no issue with harvesting wild food — it’s about a narrow niche of vanity hunting.

The polls show this difference of opinion isn’t the urban-rural gulf that trophy hunting ideologues frequently claim. Many rural residents, indeed, many hunters, turn out to be as uncomfortable with the trophy hunting of grizzlies as the city folk who are repelled by the ethical questions the practice raises.

There is a price for the pittance the grizzly hunt earns, of course.

The trophy hunt puts us on display internationally as Brutish Columbia, a benighted, backwards place where democracy is so desensitized that government is empowered to simply ignore the wishes of the 3.8 million citizens who want trophy hunting ended and instead permits the killing to continue to appease 186 trophy hunters and a handful of tiny guiding businesses that employ less than a dozen people.

“What were they thinking?” future generations will ask of us. It will be as fair a question then as it is now.

Ontario’s politically convenient plan to revive spring bear hunt: Walkom

Photo Dreamstime  In 2012, the cash-strapped Liberal government cancelled its only substantive program for handling nuisance bears, something called trap and relocate, writes Thomas Walkom.

Photo Dreamstime
In 2012, the cash-strapped Liberal government cancelled its only substantive program for handling nuisance bears, something called trap and relocate, writes Thomas Walkom.


National Affairs, Published on Fri Mar 07 2014

Pity the bears. It seems they’ll be collateral damage from Ontario’s political wars.

The issue is the spring bear hunt. Premier Kathleen Wynne is proposing to start up this dubious practice again for a two-year trial period

Tim Hudak’s Conservatives want the hunt reinstated, period. Andrea Horwath’s New Democrats walk a delicate line of deliberate obscurity.

But all three parties are running scared — fearful that any opposition to a renewal of the spring hunt could endanger their chances in key northern ridings.

Conversely, if they appear too eager to see bears killed, they might lose southern votes in an election that could come this spring.

There are up to 105,000 black bears in Ontario — virtually all of them in the north. For several weeks each fall, it is perfectly legal to shoot and kill them.

Until 1999, licensed hunters could also shoot and kill bears each spring. Mothers and cubs were supposed to be given a free pass. But in the thrill of the chase, such niceties weren’t always observed.

The preferred method of hunting a bear is to entice the animal into a kill zone by planting bait — and then blast away from the safety of a raised platform.

Not very sporting perhaps. But effective.

Fifteen years ago, to the surprise of the sporting lobby, Conservative premier Mike Harris cancelled the spring hunt.

Continue reading

Dr. Faisal Moola on CKNW w Michael Smyth Opposing the Trophy Killing of Grizzlies in B.C., Listen to the AudioCast Mar,7’14

Listen to an audiocast of Dr. Faisal Moola on CKNW radio station with Michael Smyth discussing the need to protect British Columbia’s Grizzlies. Dr. Moola explains why continuing on with the Trophy Hunt is only threatening the species further and is not a good conservation strategy for the BC government to maintain when up to 90% of B.C. residents are opposed to the trophy hunt.  

Excellent interview and excellent callers …no commercial interruptions:   Bears Matter Sends a Big Bear Hug and Thanks to Dr. Moola for doing this interview on behalf of our bears.

Please share interview on facebook and twitter etc… and consider signing and sharing Bears Matter petition :

 Dr. Faisal Moola,  David Suzuki FoundationHuman-caused mortality is the greatest source of death for grizzly bears and is the primary factor limiting grizzly bear populations. The federal Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada lists grizzly bears as a species of special concern.

Twitter Msg:  NOT ProtectingBCGrizzlies! Fri @faisal_moola w @MikeSmythNews on @billgood980 @christyclarkbc #bcpoli @BCGovNews…  David Suzuki Foundation news release
March 5, 2014

B.C. government gets failing grades in grizzly bear management

The B.C. government’s failure to effectively manage grizzly bears has left nine sub-populations on the verge of extinction and is leading to widespread overkilling of bears, a report (report link) by the David Suzuki Foundation has found.

“The B.C. government gets failing grades for its implementation of the 1995 Grizzly Bear Strategy on almost every measure,” said the foundation’s Faisal Moola.

The peer-reviewed report analyzes whether the B.C. Grizzly Bear Strategy is sustaining bear habitat, preventing overkilling of bears by humans, maintaining the abundance and diversity of bears and increasing public and scientific knowledge of grizzly bears. The strategy has guided grizzly bear management in the province since it was adopted in 1995.

The study includes a report card, which found that although progress has been made in developing more accurate population estimates (grade: C), increasing scientific knowledge about grizzly bears (grade: B) and improving public awareness of the species (grade: C), little has been done to implement the conservation strategy to protect grizzly bear habitat (grade: D-) or prevent overkilling of bears, including in the province’s controversial trophy hunt (grade: D).

“Grizzly bears have suffered from political indifference and inaction for too long,” Moola said. “B.C. is one of the last places on earth where grizzlies feed, breed and roam across our forests and mountains, but we’re abandoning this biological inheritance with management practices that don’t work and, worse, threaten the health of the species.”

The government was given a D grade for its inability to maintain the abundance and diversity of grizzly bears. Although about 15,000 grizzly reside in British Columbia, research shows that abundance and diversity — including genetic diversity — appear to have declined since the strategy began. No recovery plans have been implemented for B.C.’s nine threatened sub-populations, two of which scientists have deemed extinct: the Garibaldi-Pitt and North Cascade grizzlies, which once inhabited the Lower Mainland’s forests and mountains.

Although the B.C. government claims its trophy hunt is well-managed, research cited in the report finds that with the hunt, grizzly bear mortality has not been managed below sustainable thresholds. Grizzly bear deaths at the hands of humans have exceeded government thresholds – often for consecutive years – in some bear populations, including those in the southeast corner of the province. The Cariboo and Kootenay districts have recently reopened for trophy hunting.

The foundation’s report follows findings by the federal government’s Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) that the majority of grizzly bear habitat in the province is “at risk” and that the species should be legally listed and protected under federal endangered species legislation.

Threatened bear populations can rebound if the government moves quickly to protect habitat, develops recovery strategies and puts a moratorium on the trophy hunt, Moola said.