Author Archives: Barb Murray

‘Twyla Roscovich was driven to protect this world’: Activist and friend remembers filmmaker CBC

twyla-roscovich

Note from Barb of Bears Matter: To Donate Click on: A GoFundMe Page   to help secure funds for Twyla’s daughter, Ruby Lynn Ross. https://www.gofundme.com/for-the-future-of-ruby-lynn-ross

Biologist Alexandra Morton says she hopes filmmakers can continue Roscovich’s environmental efforts
CBC News Posted: Sep 18, 2017 10:00 AM PT Last Updated: Sep 18, 2017 10:00 AM PT
A close friend of Twyla Roscovich, the B.C. filmmaker whose body was discovered Friday, says the province has lost an important environmental voice.
Alexandra Morton, an activist and independent scientist, was the subject of Roscovich’s 2013 documentary, Salmon Confidential.
The film follows Morton’s efforts to reveal an industry cover up after she discovered B.C.’s wild salmon had tested positive for dangerous European salmon viruses.
• Body of missing filmmaker Twyla Roscovich found on Vancouver Island
“I think everybody felt the world was a little bit safer because Twyla was on the job,” Morton told host Rick Cluff on CBC’s The Early Edition.
“It wasn’t a job — it was a life for her. They felt that she would help protect everything we love about British Columbia.” Rosvovich vanished on Sept. 7, triggering a widespread search by the RCMP and the coast guard. In a statement, Roscovich’s family said her body was discovered Friday near Fisherman’s Wharf in Campbell River. The family did not release details about her death, but said no foul play was suspected.
Roscovich’s legacy
“I’ve lost one of my closest friends — perhaps my closest friend,” said Morton, who’s known Roscovich for more than 20 years.
Morton said Roscovich was the type of friend who noticed when others weren’t OK and would try to help. “I think that’s why so many of us are so devastated, because we just feel like we should have been there for her at the end. And somehow, none of us were.”
Twyla Roscovich’s family said her body was discovered Friday near Fisherman’s Wharf in Campbell River. (Twyla Roscovich/Facebook)
Friends and family are now raising funds for Roscovich’s four-year-old daughter Ruby.
Roscovich was pregnant during the filming of Salmon Confidential, Morton said, and was so committed that she flew to Norway to interview a scientist at the last possible moment.
Morton said she hopes other filmmakers can continue Roscovich’s legacy.
“She was driven to protect this world,” Morton said.

Click on Link: Listen to Interview to hear full interview on CBC Radio to hear Alexandra Morton

New B.C. government will review “professional reliance” by Briony Penn

Sept 07, 2017 Full Article:  http://www.focusonvictoria.ca/septoct-2017/new-government-will-review-professional-reliance-r11/

The practice may have played a leading role in creating some of BC’s most high-profile environmental blunders.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO, as a reporter for CHUM TV (aka The New VI), I got a call from a professional wildlife biologist in Port Alberni called Mike Stini. He’s an Island guy to the core—understated, drives a pickup, knows the bush like the back of his hand and, more than anything, loves this place and isn’t afraid to share his knowledge.

He was clearly upset. The BC Liberals had changed all the rules on forest management, and suddenly wildlife experts like him, who were hired by government prior to harvest plans to identify the old growth where elk and deer overwintered, or find and map the bear dens and the goshawk nests, were being shoved out the door. His concern wasn’t about losing the work; he could always go back full-time to taxidermy. It was about what was going to happen to his habitat on McLaughlin Ridge, the forested mountains that were about to be levelled by industry.

But the government seemed to reason that biologists like him were dispensable. If what was standing between a company and profit margins was a bear den, an ungulate winter range, or a goshawk nest, then the best thing to do was to get rid of the people who have that knowledge.

My reporting crew travelled all over McLauglin Ridge to do the story, looking at the hard-won designations of old-growth management areas, riparian zones, wildlife trees, and habitat for species at risk. We even crawled right up to one bear den that Stini had been monitoring for years, to check out the condition of the bear who looked out at us in a torpid state from the old-growth tree that served as his home for six months. Stini had data stretching back decades on the bear dens that he had found in the region. Up on the south-facing slopes of the ridge, under the big old Douglas-firs laden with arboreal lichens, he pointed out the signs of the deer and elk that overwintered there, surviving on lichens that blew down from their canopies in each winter storm.

All these areas, under the old designations, were about to be put under the control of logging company biologists—in a system that was referred to as “professional reliance.” The Forest Practices Code had been gutted, and the discretion to manage 45 million hectares of our public forests for the public’s interest, which included the protection of wildlife, water, recreational opportunities, cultural sites, subsistence hunting and so on, was now in the hands of industry.

Under the new regime, there was no legal requirement to have the forest surveyed for ecological or cultural values prior to logging; it was up to the professionals hired by industry to judge. If the public wasn’t happy with “the results” in this “results-based system,” they could take issue. But what use would taking issue be after the fact? And how did one assess results when the evidence for what had been there was gone? Especially when no one had been mandated to collect it.

Stini forecast that all the places that we visited would be logged under the new system. In 2015, I revisited those sites and he was right—everything was levelled, from the bear den to the winter range. Even worse, under the current designation of working forest, there is no chance the forest can even recover. In an industry-led cutting cycle of under 50 years, the trees will never mature long enough to produce a tree with a suitable diameter for a bear den, goshawk nest, or arboreal lichen to grow.

Logging on McLauglin Ridge

As Stini said in 2002 for the TV show, “Basically the wildlife is being punished by changing the rules all of a sudden. We are removing the checks and balances and turning it over to industry that is in the business of making money. All the habitat biologists feel strongly that this is backwards; they need to review the plans prior to logging, because once an area is logged, the habitat is gone forever. The real big danger is we are going to lose so much and no one will know. This legislation is so far-reaching that it will make it difficult for future generations to rebuild wildlife habitat. It is going to be a major problem. This legislation is wrong. It shouldn’t be happening.”

The government extended the practice of relying on resource extractors’ own professionals to evaluate the environmental aspects of mining and other projects.

MLA Sonia Furstenau

“SILENT BUT DEADLY,” is how Green MLA Sonia Furstenau describes professional reliance. “Most people have no idea what it is. It’s only when you encounter it that you recognize it for what it is.”

What is professional reliance for those who haven’t encountered the beast? After 17 years in the media following this slippery, seemingly innocuous monster that couldn’t make a headline if it drove itself off a cliff, I describe professional reliance, at best, as an elegant euphemism for deregulation and privatization. At its most egregious, it is this century’s master weapon for white-collar crime. Those who utilize these weapons—knowingly putting the public interest at risk—are referred to by David O. Friedrichs, a Distinguished Professor of Criminal Justice, as “trusted criminals.” Wendell Berry, land reformer and activist, calls them ” professional vandals” .

How do the proponents of professional reliance define it and defend it? And why is reviewing it one of the top four priorities in the 2017 Confidence and Supply agreement between the BC Green and NDP caucuses? With all the issues they could have picked, why did it push its way to the top?
Mark Haddock, a UVic lawyer with the Environmental Law Centre who did a lengthy 2015 analysis of the failures of the professional reliance “experiment,” says it is a grey term and has multiple interpretations that can easily mislead. His definition is “the substitution of professional opinion from experts inside of government for that of professionals in the employ of the [resource development] proponents.” He suggests renaming it “decision-making reliance.” Furstenau thinks it should be rebranded for what it is—conflict of interest.
British Columbians are not unfamiliar with how deregulation, with a loosening of standards around conflict of interest, can spiral into corporate white-collar crime. The Mount Polley disaster is a case in point of how badly it can go wrong with no third party oversight. The fact that the company, Imperial Metals, can continue to operate with no penalties, after destroying a lake for generations, clearly pushes citizens to the edge. Citizen groups are pursuing private prosecutions, and Premier Horgan has now committed to determine why a deadline was missed by the BC Liberals to lay charges against the company.
Furstenau feels the blame should lie in the failure of government to protect the public interest by handing over the responsibility to industry.

Over the years, corporate spin-doctors have found devious new ways to shed rules and government oversight, but professional reliance was a stroke of pure genius. Many were lulled into thinking that handing the management and oversight of our public lands and interest to a coterie of smiling, reliable professionals, with their reputations and professional associations hovering above to keep them in line, was a grand solution. After all, it was expensive to fund government-hired professionals.

filling an active quarry in the Shawnigan watershed with contaminated soil. She realized that not only could industry legitimately hire people who had a personal stake in that business (as employees, business partners or shareholders) to assess the environmental impacts of their activities, but there was no way to stop harm as long as those people were “up front” about their relationships. If the case hadn’t found a “deliberate concealment” of the discussion of ownership with the company hired to conduct the environmental assessment, South Island Aggregates might still be shovelling dioxins, hydrocarbons and furans onto what an independent hydrogeologist warned was fractured limestone “that provides no natural protection for the established drinking water sources in the region.”

In the last 17 years, virtually every news story about damage to public forests, lakes, rivers and oceans, affecting wildlife, water, air, soil, climate, and First Nations rights, with repercussions on every aspect of our health, can be traced to flaws in professional reliance. The big issues like Mount Polley, the Testalinden Creek landslide, and Shawnigan Lake are what catch the headlines, but they represent a fraction of the damage to our forests, communities and wildlife that Mike Stini predicted.

Citizens’ only recourse is to take the matter into their own hands, which is what they did in Shawnigan Lake. Haddock summarizes this state of affairs this way: “The deregulation takes government out of the picture and leaves health, safety and environmental protection outcomes to the ‘social license’ to operate for a given proponent or industry.”

Removing that “social license” at Shawnigan Lake cost local citizens $2 million in legal fees and thousands of volunteer hours with the very real possibility, still, of a contaminated watershed. As Furstenau says, “I want to be able to live my life without having to monitor and watchdog every aspect of my life from the water I drink, to the bridges I drive over. This is the main reason I got into provincial politics—to build trust in government again to protect its citizens.”

The lack of trust pervades not just government, but the professional associations themselves. As Furstenau points out, it isn’t their job to look after the public interest. And in a deregulated environment, with narrow terms of reference, there are virtually no laws to break, therefore no disciplinary actions to be taken.
The whole thing is a Machiavellian bag of worms. Haddock, along with a recent report by Evidence for Democracy, both revealed the level of concern that many professionals themselves have with provincial decision-making on natural resources. Few professionals are willing to talk openly. But, under protection of anonymity, they told Haddock of the many problems: “expert shopping”; clear conflicts of interest, but no way to address it; lack of checks and balances; loss of expertise in government; lack of confidence in government monitoring; problems with independent monitoring; lack of confidence in the disciplinary process of professional associations; reduced formal public involvement; greater user conflicts; no one out in the field who knows what is going on; filtering of information by proponents; too many grey areas; inexperienced crews operating; cavalier approach to risk…and the list goes on.

With the professional reliance model no longer being tied to the public interest, many professionals found it intolerable to work in an environment in which the term “stewardship” has largely been stripped out of their duties.

And now, at least one has resorted to legal action: Professional forester Martin Watts has accused the Province of blacklisting foresters for raising concerns over the quality of inventory data. Watts is spending his retirement savings to fund a case he might not win, but which will certainly lose him clients.

Furstenau, now overseeing the professional reliance file for the Green caucus, is at the information-gathering stage, helping Minister of Environment and Climate Change George Heyman set out a direction for the review. For her, citizen involvement is essential. It is important to hear from everyone who has been impacted by professional reliance, both within the professions and as citizens who have fought these issues. As she says, “this needs to be a robust review.”

As for predicting the outcome of the review, she can’t speculate, but one thing is certain: She wants an outcome in which she can return to her community and not feel as if all the responsibility for safeguarding the environment is in the hands of volunteers like herself on the Shawnigan Lake issue. It is a powerful motivator, and biologists like Stini will be cheering from the sidelines.

Briony Penn has been reporting on regional environmental issues for over 20 years. In the 2000s, she hosted the TV show “Enviro/Mental” which was nominated one of the top three magazine shows in Canada. She lives on Salt Spring Island.

Read more:http://www.focusonvictoria.ca/septoct-2017/new-government-will-review-professional-reliance-r11/

STOP THE COMMERCIAL HUCKLEBERRY HARVEST! Sign Petition

Commercial harvesting of wild huckleberries is happening on a scale we’ve never before seen in the Kootenays. A thousand pounds per day are crossing the US border at Kingsgate.

Thirty-odd commercial pickers are camped out at Yahk, working with special harvesting rakes, and intend to keep the harvest going until frost—and they aren’t the only crew harvesting berries.

Will the threatened Yahk area grizzly bear population struggle to find the 30-60 pounds of berries they need every day to fatten up for the long winter? Will people picking for their own use be out of luck? Currently in BC, there are no regulations on commercial picking of huckleberries. It’s a free for all.

Please join us to call on BC Forests, Lands and Natural Resources Minister Doug Donaldson to ban the commercial harvest now!

Go to Petition to Send Letter to Minister Donaldson http://wildsight.ca/blog/2017/08/17/commercialhuckleberries/

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culledberries

Mega-buckets-to-be-filled

Wildlife-management reform in British Columbia is long overdue

https://www.raincoast.org/2017/08/wildlife-management-reform-in-british-columbia-is-long-overdue/

Wildlife policies are focused on consumption and control, rather than conservation.

Published on 2017 · 08 · 14 by Chris Genovali & Paul C. Paquet
A grizzly bear on BC Coast stops to face an eagle.
A grizzly bear and an eagle share a stretch of land. Photo by A.S. Wright.

bc-coastal-grizzly-bear-eagle-a.s.wright23

The underpinnings of contemporary wildlife management are political and ideological, largely at the expense of wildlife for the presumed benefit of people.

Unsurprisingly, wildlife management in British Columbia is marked by an outdated mindset that primarily views wild animals as a “resource” to be exploited by recreational hunting or as troublesome creatures that need to be killed because their existence conflicts with human endeavours. Saddled by a myopic adherence to the debunked and inaptly named North American model of wildlife conservation, wildlife policy in B.C. is mired in a philosophically and structurally faulty approach.

Simply, wildlife policies are focused on consumption and control, rather than conservation.

As ethicist Michael Nelson and wildlife ecologists John Vucetich, Paul C. Paquet and Joseph Bump note in their critique, North American Model: What’s Flawed, What’s Missing, What’s Needed, the model’s primary tenet, i.e. recreational hunting being central to wildlife conservation, is based upon an inadequate account of history and an inadequate ethic.

Largely ignoring the biology and intrinsic value of all species, the model reinforces the narrow idea that nature is a commodity — a “resource” — owned and used by humans in pursuit of personal interests. This “management” perspective draws its support from — and sustains — the view that humans exist outside of nature, and that other species, apart from their utility for humans, are of little importance in the larger scheme of things. Human dominion and domination over nature are deemed to be the natural order.

Predominantly driven by a recreational hunting agenda, the North American model is informed largely by values, attitudes and atavistic beliefs entrenched in the self-serving fallacy that killing wild animals for sport and control is essential to wildlife conservation.

Wildlife policies are focused on consumption and control, rather than conservation. Tweet This!
As explained in the critique, the model relies on a misinterpretation of history in which recreational hunting is disproportionately, and inaccurately, seen as the driver of North American wildlife conservation, while downplaying the contributions of monumental figures such as John Muir and Aldo Leopold, who pioneered broad-based approaches to conservation without focusing on hunting as its primary tool.

The province’s recent proposal to privatize wildlife management illustrates the pernicious effect of the North American model on the mindset of government bureaucrats and politicians. In the run-up to the election, the B.C. Liberals announced plans to implement an extra-governmental agency that would be controlled by recreational hunting groups.

This perverse scheme is the culmination of decades of undue influence by the recreational hunting lobby on the B.C. government; it was also inevitable under the model, where science and ethics are ignored in favour of self-perpetuating myth and anecdote.

With its philosophical roots in the model, the grizzly-bear hunt is an egregious and persistent example of how B.C. wildlife management fails to address ecological, economic and ethical considerations. Using the province’s kill data to determine if B.C.’s grizzly management meets its own objectives, Raincoast Conservation Foundation scientists have found that total kills commonly exceed limits determined by provincial policy. Financial analyses have shown that grizzlies are worth far more alive than dead, and poll after poll indicates a clear majority of British Columbians have judged the recreational hunting of these large carnivores an abhorrent activity.

Wildlife policies in BC flow from an outdated paradigm of dominion and domination. Tweet This!
Considering centuries of human privilege over the needs of the environment, what we need to manage is not wildlife but ourselves. Recognizing that many human activities have damaging effects on biodiversity and ecological communities, what should wildlife management in B.C. look like?

Briefly, Raincoast envisions a compassionate conservation policy based on management for wildlife, as opposed to management of wildlife — a policy that takes into account the health and well-being of individuals and populations. Furthermore, we envision substantially more consideration given to maintaining the integrity of ecological systems upon which species depend.

Although species might continue to exist and suffer long after natural ecological relationships have been altered or destroyed, such impoverished conditions are not sustainable and do not typify healthy environments. Finally, wildlife management needs to emerge from the shadows and adopt practices in keeping with modern science, as well as principles regarding the ethical treatment of animals.

Without a significant shift in how we relate to and interact with wildlife, future generations will look back with stunned dismay at how our society could be so divorced from reality and morality. The hopeful news in B.C. is that with a new government there is the opportunity for positive change and a much more ecologically and ethically informed approach to wildlife management.

Chris Genovali is executive director of Raincoast Conservation Foundation. Large-carnivore expert Paul C. Paquet is Raincoast’s senior scientist.

This article was first published on August 11, 2017 at the Times Colonist.

International trophy hunting organization accused of influencing vancouver sun poll on grizzly hunt

Link: https://www.facebook.com/StoptheGrizzlyKilling/

Not satisfied with killing animals around the globe, they’re trying to pressure BC to allow more Grizzlies to be senselessly slaughtered. American trophy killers trying to influence policy in our province. Enough is enough!
Read this article to learn more, and please share this far and wide.
We need people like you to protect BC’s Grizzlies. Please email the following newly elected representatives and let them know that BC residents STRONGLY disagree with Grizzly killing in any part of our province. Packing the meat out is an unacceptable loophole that will be easily exploited, and wealthy trophy killers will continue to slaughter our majestic Grizzly bears for kicks. Despicable!
Adam Olsen – Adam.olsen.MLA@leg.bc.ca
Minister Doug Donaldson – FLNR.Minister@gov.bc.ca
Minister George Heyman – ENV.minister@gov.bc.ca
Premier John Horgan – Premier@gov.bc.ca
Andrew Weaver – Andrew.weaver.mla@leg.bc.ca
Sonia Furstenau (Green MLA) – Sonia.furstenau.MLA@leg.bc

Clayton Stoner

Aug 16, 2017 Vancouver Sun Article by Larry Pynn http://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/international-trophy-hunting-organization-accused-of-influencing-vancouver-sun-poll-on-grizzly-hunt

An international trophy-hunting organization is being criticized for trying to influence a Vancouver Sun online poll on the NDP government ban on the grizzly trophy hunt.
The 50,000-member, U.S.-based Safari Club International (SCI) has posted a tweet designed to rally its supporters, saying: “Your help is needed to support grizzly hunting! Click on this link and vote ‘NO’ at the end of the article!”

SccreenShotSCIAug'17 Screen Shot taken on Twitter by Bears Matter
The Sun’s poll asks: “Are you happy with the B.C. NDP’s plan to ban the grizzly trophy hunt?” It then asks readers to choose between one of two statements: “Yes — Killing bears for sport is senseless;” or “No — A lot of people depend on the hunt to make a living.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, the two positions were running pretty much neck-and-neck, whereas professionally conducted public opinion polls on the issue have shown overwhelming support for ending the hunt.
SCI also issued two news releases this week, arguing that “sustainable management of wildlife in British Columbia was sucker-punched” and accusing the government of “bowing to the bluster of anti-hunters” and ignoring “all sound science that supports a continuation of grizzly bear hunting in that province.”

On Monday, the NDP government made good on a high-profile election promise by announcing a B.C.-wide ban on trophy hunting of grizzly bears, while allowing hunting to continue for meat outside the Great Bear Rainforest.
Trish Boyum, a coastal ecotourism operator and strong advocate of ending the grizzly trophy hunt, urged SCI to butt out of B.C.’s affairs. “We in no way agree with Safari Club being involved in any decision making regarding wildlife in British Columbia,” she said. “This is what happens when we allow these kinds of people to have their way in our province.”

B.C. grizzly hunter calls new provincial ban wasteful, hurtful to local economies
Boyum noted that she is associated with the Facebook page, Stop the Grizzly Killing, boasting 46,000 followers. She isn’t urging them to respond to The Sun’s poll, which she considers poorly worded and unscientific.

 

Stop the Grizzly Killing Facebook BC- Grizzly Hunt starts Aug.15,2017

STGK PostAug15'17                                                              BC to ban the “Trophy Grizzly Bear Really?
No, Grizzly killing season starts today, August 15, 2017                                                Today the government sanctioned grizzly hunt resumes. Bears will still be killed for bragging rights and trophy photos. This abhorrent behavior will soon be justified by re-branding Grizzlies as food, a ridiculous loophole. Shame on you British Columbia. This is just lipstick on a pig.

Please Like and Share this page: https://www.facebook.com/StoptheGrizzlyKilling