Meet Teresa Murphy, Latest Grizzly Ambassador for Justice for BC Grizzlies

2015 09 05_0729

It’s 1996 and my husband and I have been reading Paul St. Pierre’s The Chilcotin Holiday. We love the communities and countryside he describes, so we decide to take our summer holiday there. Driving from Vancouver to Williams Lake, heading west then south, we enter Ts’yl-os Provincial Park in the territory of the Xeni Gwet’in.

We arrive at dusk as the evening meal is being served to a group of European tourists. They describe, with great animation, riding horses through untouched forest to a viewing area near a salmon spawning ground. Using telescopes they had seen a grizzly bear in the far off distance. “Tears were flooding down my face and I knew not to move or make a sound,” said a woman from Germany who had travelled half-way across the world and spent many thousands of dollars to experience those few moments. The next day we ride gentle, well-cared for horses, through the stillness of a wilderness valley. The viewing area is miles downwind of where grizzlies have been seen fishing. In silence we wait. In less than an hour, through a telescope, we see a cocoa coloured grizzly wading. As I watch, I also feel tears streaming down my face and feel the longing in the others to make these moments last forever.

Back at the lodge, we talk about what we can do to end bear hunting, what we can do to preserve wilderness habitat, and what we can do to convince the premier that bears generate more economic benefit to communities through tourism than hunting. We each vow to do something.

Teresa Murphy, Richmond BC

Taken from https://justiceforbcgrizzlies.com/about/grizzly-ambassadors/

The Lens of Choice by Justice for BC Grizzlies

2015 09 05_0774
Posted by justiceforbcgrizzlies on July 13, 2016

Trophy bear hunting is hard to talk about. It evokes really powerful emotions and quite frankly I would avoid it if I could. But I made a promise to the bears that I will take a stand on their behalf. So this is where I stand: Killing bears for the sole purpose of taking body parts to display as “trophy” is a social justice issue that is just plain wrong. It needs to end everywhere in BC and by anyone in BC.

The Liberal government spends a lot of money trying to count bears in each of the province’s 56 Grizzly Bear Population Units (GBPU). It spends a further amount managing the annual hunts. It’s easy to think that numbers, statistics and modeling projections tell the truth; they look so clean and reliable. What isn’t so apparent are the value assumptions that lay beneath the numbers and what those views are saying to citizens of this province.

Bear viewing and bear killing obviously cannot happen in the same locations at the same time. Even more so, they are antithetical because they are grounded in differing views about the way the world is. Generally speaking, people who go bear viewing are in small cooperative groups whose values are grounded in curiosity, wonder, trust, peace and human-animal coexistence. Bear trophy hunting acts on a different set of values. People who kill bears for sport make different assumptions from a worldview of certainty, defense, contest, dominance and human-animal conflict. It’s up to ordinary citizens to decide which way of viewing the world most speaks to how they see themselves and their communities.

Population estimates of grizzlies reveal nothing about bear personalities, which anyone who knows bears is intriqued to study. Like which bears have learned to skillfully fish off the lip of a fast-moving waterfall, or swim underwater, or steal fish from other bears. Numbers say nothing about which bear lost an ear over the winter or which mothers have learned, from painful experience, to raise their cubs to maturity. Government officials and guide outfitters will say that such details have no place in serious, “scientific” discussions about bears. In my view, these very details have an essential place because each bear is a unique individual, in much the same way as each human is a unique individual.

Nobody knows for certain how many grizzlies there are in BC. They can’t be counted. Grizzlies have the slowest reproduction rate of any mammal in North America and mortality rates are thought to be much higher than reported. A female grizzly might replace herself only once in her lifetime. Nobody knows how quickly a bear population is replacing itself year to year, or how low a population can go before its members experience rapid, irreversible decline. Sub-adult cubs remain close to their mother’s range before moving farther afield, so dispersal of bear populations is slow. Male grizzlies need a home range of up to 1700 km2 (~650 sq. miles) of connected habitats in order to forage and find females of breeding readiness. They work hard just to live. Killing the largest bears damages genetic information in the species. Roads being built for human recreation, industry and habitation are constantly fragmenting grizzly home ranges. And once a population is recognized as threatened, recovery efforts move at a glacial pace.

Population estimates don’t tell any authentic stories of Grizzly Bears and no number of bears is high enough to justify killing them for sport. Justice for BC grizzlies means to stop killing them and to support education for understanding bears and living around them safely.

Taken from: https://justiceforbcgrizzlies.com/2016/07/13/bear-viewing-by-boat/

 

Peaceful Coexistence (with Grizzlies) Article posted by Justice for BC Grizzlies

2015 09 05_0558

Photo: Justice for BC Grizzlies photo taken in Knight’s Inlet July’15

A large wooden gift plaque reads “MAN CAVE: VIOLATERS WILL BE MAULED”; a grizzly head, jaws agape, teeth bared, ready to rip someone to shreds. Just a silly sign but it causes me to reflect on how stereotypes of animals become culturally ingrained over time. Children’s books show bears in a more whimsical light, such as the lovable Pooh-bear, or thoughtful Baloo. I personally grew up with Goldilocks and the three bears. Most people have never seen a grizzly in the wild, including politicians who make life-and-death decisions over “bear management”.

The truth about grizzlies is neither as bad as the worst stereotypes nor as harmless as children’s tales. All of us who speak for grizzlies need to raise the calibre of awareness about the intelligence, the sensitivity and the way of being that these bears authentically present in a natural setting. A romanticized notion does them as much disservice as fear-instilling messages do.

When I went bear viewing, I was deeply impressed with the dedication by the guides to keep people safe, but, perhaps even more so, to their commitment to keeping the bears safe. A bear doesn’t get to make mistakes when he/she comes into contact with humans. It’s up to the humans to prevent the conflicts in the first place. The genuine caring of those bear guides rubs off on ecotourists in good ways and makes us want to better understand our fellow “bruins”.

Take a look, for instance, at the experience of Dr. Melanie Clapham, bear researcher, whose video interview with a fellow researcher was interrupted by a curious cub.

A good example of a human community learning to coexist with bears can be found in the report on Meadow Creek bear education and management of 2013-14. The community of Meadow Creek is situated in the valley bottom between the Selkirk and Purcell ranges. It’s prime human and bear habitat both, where bears have typically experienced high mortality rates at the hands of residents. In addition to a wide variety of deterrent strategies, this study shows how a shift in human attitudes toward living with bears is what makes the biggest difference to human-bear coexistance. The author makes the point that bears can be taught what is socially appropriate around human habitation but it’s up to the people to choose non-lethal ways of dealing with bears when they do come in close proximity. The author also points out that sub-adult bears, typically 3-4 years of age and newly independent, may come into conflict through their relative naivety but that this age-group is also easily taught how to behave appropriately around human settlements. I’ve read that the ability of bear cubs to form mental maps, based on what they learn from their mother’s early teachings, is comparable to the ability of a 3-year old human child. Think about how much a child of three has already learned in their short life. It’s incredible. Bears and people can all learn to behave properly.

Bears can be taught to navigate safely around human communities. People can certainly remember to do what they were taught by the age of three: Say you’re sorry and try to make it better. Put an end to hunting bears for sport or profit, learn about their ways and how to behave properly around them and teach others to respect bears as the keystone engineers of healthy ecosystems that they rightfully are, in BC and elsewhere.

For more information about brown bears, go to Dr. Clapham’s Brown Bear Research Network.

Taken from: https://justiceforbcgrizzlies.com/2016/07/07/grizzlies-live-in-peace/

 

Marie-Sue Ambassador

Meet The First Justice for BC Grizzlies’ Ambassadors

Mary-Sue, Grizzly Ambassador, holding a salmon award

As a North Vancouver mother of 3, I love our beautiful natural environment in British Columbia. Our magnificent grizzly bears are an iconic species and tourists from around the world come here for the opportunity to view them in the wild. We in B.C. host some of North America’s last remaining places where large predators and their prey play out their millennia-old roles. Grizzlies are an important “umbrella” species. Landscapes that support healthy Grizzly bear populations will be able to sustain many other species. Grizzly bears play a key role in maintaining healthy ecosystems by distributing salmon nutrients into forests and transporting seeds. They are an important part of the culture of First Nations People living in B.C. I personally love and respect our grizzly bears and the barbaric practice of trophy hunting must end. I was chosen to be an Olympic torchbearer in the 2010 Winter Olympics for my volunteer stewardship of wild salmon and their ecosystems for over 20 years. I am so proud to be a Canadian and a British Columbian. But I, and over 91% of my fellow British Columbians, are not proud of our trophy hunt, are disgusted by it and want it to stop. Now is the time to listen to the public who share my values. I want our children and their children to be able to view majestic grizzlies in the wild. The hunt is not sustainable : economically, socially, environmentally or morally. Please join me and speak for the grizzlies!   Mary-Sue Atkinson, North Vancouver

Jacequeline as Ambassador
Jacqueline, Grizzly Ambassador – Momma Grizzly resting in the Khutzemateen, B.C.

Growing up, my parents had a hobby farm with a variety of farm animals. We loved them all like pets and we did everything possible to make sure they were healthy and safe. I’ve never known anything in my life but to care deeply for animals. Watching the local news one evening in 2013, I learned about the BC trophy hunt and how a hockey player had killed a grizzly bear and then proudly posed for photos with its bloody severed head and paws. I was disgusted and horrified. I thought that trophy hunting was something that was going on somewhere else in the world. I didn’t imagine that in Canada, in my home province of BC, it was actually legal to kill these beautiful animals for no reason other than to have their head or hide. I wanted to help the bears and I made a pact with myself to become active in the effort to end this archaic practice. Over the last several years, I’ve met and aligned myself with many others who also want to see the trophy hunt ended. I’ve signed many petitions, written letters to our leaders, written letters to newspapers, and I talk to everyone I can about this issue in order to bring it to the forefront. I have only ever met one or two people who don’t think trophy killing is wrong, most people agree right away that it is reprehensible and should be ended. I agree and believe that ending it is the morally right thing to do.  Jacqueline Hohmann, Surrey

Craig as Ambassador
Craig is a Grizzly Ambassador

I can imagine a day when there is a parade in front of the Provincial Legislature when the last grizzly bear has been shot and the people demonstrating will in fact be mourning that this keystone species so fundamental to the ecology of the Province’s forests no longer roams the wild areas. People will say, ‘How could that have happened? Why did the government not stop the hunting of these animals when they knew there was no economic, social, environmental or moral reason to sanction their mindless slaughter?’ I can also imagine a parade in front of the Provincial Legislature when the last grizzly bear has been shot and the people will be celebrating because hunting of this apex predator has been stopped. We will cheer that the will of the people has been heard and grizzly bears will continue to honour us with their presence. My name is Craig Smith and I believe we have the power to choose the future of the grizzly bear. Craig Smith, Richmond

Natural Liberty; Grizzlies Deserve the Right to Live…..Blog by Justice for BC Grizzlies

Someone commented to me recently, “Bears haven’t changed one bit. It’s people that have changed. Bears are still doing what bears have done for thousands of years”. It’s so true.

Wild animals are essentially ownerless in their natural settings. But from early days when nobility and settler groups assumed land title, they also laid claim to all that lived upon those lands. This essentially continues today in the form of provincial authority over Crown lands, which lumps wildlife in with oil, gas, trees, minerals; every form of “resource” extraction.

Consider these observations:

The majority of BC residents are opposed to trophy hunting of Grizzly Bears. Yet other than a short, four-month moratorium on grizzly hunting by the NDP government in 2001, trophy hunting has continued in BC. The government is assumed to hold Crown* land “in public trust” for present and future generations but clearly does not have social license to kill grizzlies. It may even be considered a violation of public trust.

* It must be noted that ~ 95% of the land base in BC is unceded territories of First Nations who take issue with the concept of Crown lands.

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Animal law is a field of legal practice that is still young and growing. Few lawyers represent the interests of animals but those who do, do so because they believe that sentient beings deserve their natural liberty and are not property or “chattel”.

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The now famous CREST (The Center for Responsible Travel) report of 2014 assessed bear viewing in the Great Bear Rainforest at 12 times more profitable than bear (trophy) hunting. Grizzlies more than “earn their keep” in the province.

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All of which lines up on the side of leaving grizzlies in peace to do what they have done for thousands of years.

It’s no stretch to call it an evolutionary impulse, this desire to see animals live in peace. And now is the time. A different attitude exists today than in 1888, for instance, when a black bear cub on Stanley Park grounds was chained to a stump and became the first inhabitant of the zoo. That was acceptable then, as was the donation of four Arctic polar bears to the zoo by the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1962. That simply could not be done in BC today without an activist movement opposing it. And that’s how it should be.

In 2016, it’s justice for Grizzly Bears to have their natural liberty; to eat, play, rest and lumber freely on their home ranges.

Taken from https://justiceforbcgrizzlies.com July 7, 2016

Action Alert! Justice for BC Grizzlies MUST Happen! Write to Premier Clark and Minister Thomson!

Grizzly photo by Andrew Wright in the Great Bear Rainforest.

Grizzly photo by Andrew Wright in the Great Bear Rainforest.

Take Action! Justice for BC Grizzlies must happen! Please write BC Premier Christy Clark at premier@gov.bc.ca & Minister Steve Thomson at flnr.minister@gov.bc.ca and cc: justiceforbcgrizzlies@telus.net . Also tweet @christyclarkbc Steve Thomson MLA (short sample letter below) Like and Share our twitter and facebook Pages: Facebook page Open just in British Columbia at this time https://www.facebook.com/JusticeforBCGrizzlies/

Sample Short Letter: “I am a concerned citizen of voting age who is appalled that Grizzly Bears are killed in BC. I want it to stop. It cannot be justified on any basis whatsoever.” (Put your full name and address on email so they will respond).

Pls go to  https:/justiceforbcgrizzlies.com or email Justiceforbcgrizzlies@telus.net  and tell us why you consider yourself a bear friend… we would love to hear from you, especially if you live in British Columbia. Our provincial election is May 9, 2017 and Grizzlies Matter!