Category Archives: Letter to Editor

Bryce Casavant Replies to BC Wildlife Federation’s Alan Martin

http://vancouversun.com/opinion/op-ed/opinion-finding-our-bearings-a-gentle-yet-grizzly-rebuttal

I recognize that this is a difficult time for trophy hunters in B.C. Change is never easy. However, this does not mean we invent alternative facts to support rhetoric. In his opinion piece published in The Vancouver Sun on Dec. 27, Alan Martin has made multiple factually incorrect assertions to support the continuance of grizzly bear hunting. In an effort to correct misinformation, I would like to point out the following:

First, a B.C.-based independent polling company (Insights West) conducted a public survey in 2015 which found that 91 per cent of British Columbians opposed the trophy hunting of grizzly bears.

Second, following the 2017 provincial election, the new government conducted a public consultation process between September and October. The purpose was to solicit comments from all British Columbians regarding the management of grizzly bears. Over 4,000 responses were recorded. Of these responses received by government, over 78 per cent opposed the continued hunting of grizzly bears.

Therefore, a factually correct presentation would be to state: “A public survey found that 91 per cent of British Columbians oppose the trophy hunting of grizzly bears. Additionally, following a public consultation process, some 4,000 comments were received by the government of B.C., of which over 78 per cent opposed the hunting of grizzly bears.”

From these two points, a general argument is made that the hunting of grizzly bears is no longer socially acceptable by broader B.C. society.

Third, the B.C. Auditor-General never stated that hunting was not a threat to grizzly bear sustainability. Although the AG recognized that habitat loss was the most critical factor affecting grizzly bear populations, in no way is that meant to infer that hunting grizzly bears is a sustainable practice. To infer such a contention is to gravely misrepresent the findings of the review. Overall, the Auditor-General found that serious improvements to grizzly bear management were required.

Martin cites a dictionary to define the term “populist” and argues that the new NDP government is simply siding with the flavour of the day in order to gain votes and political support. Respectfully, I disagree. What I would suggest instead is that we are witnessing a change in societal values. I further argue that this change has led the new government to consider social values, scientific arguments, and the recommendations made by the B.C. Auditor-General — that the most appropriate dictionary word to describe the recent policy decision is not “populist” but rather “responsible” and most certainly “rational”.

Environmental management should be governed by the values of our society. And to be sure, these values will change over time. While we use science, experience, history and knowledge to inform government policy direction, ultimately, it is the values of the society we live in that progress over time and changes the manner in which we are governed. Call it democracy.

Having said all this, I must admit, I agree with Martin on one point: Inclusive of urban expansion, habitat loss, rail and highway mortalities, dwindling salmon stocks, and conflicts with humans, the plight of B.C.’s grizzly bears is far from restricted to the actions of hunting alone. However, where we differ is that I see hunting as a cumulative effect to a species that is already under immense pressure to find a new home and food. We can control the cumulative effect of hunting with the simple action of not pulling the trigger — if we do shoot, use a camera and kill only time. Our trophies should be memories and pictures. The only thing left behind in the bush should be our footprints in the sand, not a bloody, skinless and headless carcass.

Bryce Casavant is a former B.C. Conservation Officer who made international headlines in 2015 when he refused to kill two bear cubs. He is currently a doctoral candidate at Royal Roads University, studying public trust and wildlife co-existence in B.C.

link to Letter in Vancouver Sun by Alan Martin of the B.C. Wildlife Federation

Opinion: Populism and grizzly bears

Auditor General’s Report Reveals Grizzly Bear Management Under FLNR Has Failed, by VWS Society

October 30, 2017 TMTVNews.com

by VWS.org

http://bctvkootenays.com/2017/10/30/auditor-generals-report-reveals-grizzly-bear-management-under-the-ministry-of-forests-has-failed/

Recently BC’s Auditor General (AG) reported a plethora of problems in the management of BC’s grizzly bears.
(Submitted by the Valhalla Wilderness Society) The report says the problems were caused by a shift of wildlife management responsibilities from the Ministry of Environment (MOE) to the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources (FLNRO) that occurred in 2011. According to the Auditor General’s report, “MFLNRO has most of the authority to make decisions that impact grizzly bear populations and habitat, leaving MOE with limited powers to carry out its mandate to manage and protect.”

“This was a gross betrayal of grizzly bears and all BC wildlife”, says VWS biologist Wayne McCrory, a former member of the past government Grizzly Bear Scientific Advisory Committee. “It is an apparent conflict of interest for FLNRO, which destroys habitat for grizzly bears by maintaining high rates of logging, pushing logging roads into wilderness areas, and degrading fish streams.”
Long before this transfer of power in 2011, the Ministry of Environment began to be stripped of much of its staff and funding. The findings of the Auditor General include a 1995 Grizzly Bear Conservation Strategy that has never had a management plan attached to it, and thus, has no definitive procedures for implementation. A strategy for conducting population inventories and monitoring is touted on the internet, but is not used and has no funding.

FLNRO determines the number of grizzly bears that can be killed by hunters each year, yet the audit found a number of problems with the way this is calculated. The auditors at least expected that MFLNRO would be monitoring and evaluating forest development plans for their impacts on grizzly bears, but it wasn’t doing that either. Grizzly bears tend to disappear from roaded areas due to hunter access and increased human conflicts, as well as poaching. There are 600,000 kilometres of resource roads in the province, expanding by approximately 10,000 km a year, often without the necessary grizzly bear population figures or habitat inventory.
The 2017 audit notes that BC has failed to implement some recommendations of a 2010 audit on biodiversity. The 2010 report stated: “it was apparent that the conservation of biodiversity will become more at risk in the future due to the inadequate connectivity of parks and protected areas.” According to the recent report: “there has been little effort to address the issue of connectivity for grizzly bears….”

“The worst impact on wildlife was the past government’s almost 20-year failure to create large, fully protected, permanent parks, other than in the Great Bear Rainforest,” says Craig Pettitt, a director of VWS. “In the interior, the Valhalla Wilderness Society’s Selkirk Mountain Caribou Park Proposal would protect connectivity corridors between three existing parks. It contains prime grizzly bear habitat, grizzly bear viewing businesses and 29 severely endangered mountain caribou; it has had the benefit of numerous scientific studies, and has minimal resource conflicts.
Reversing the damage done by years of mismanagement of wildlife will require the new government to restore full responsibility for the Ministry of Environment Act and the Wildlife Act to the Ministry of Environment, with sufficient resources to do the job well. Secondly, BC urgently needs a dramatic increase in the percentage of fully protected areas.

Grizzly Bear Hunt Should be an Election Issue, Times Colonist July 3,2016

http://www.timescolonist.com/news/search-results-7.2864?q=grizzly+hunt+should+be+election+issue

Letter to the Editor: Grizzly bear hunt should be an election issue by Val Murray and Barb Murray  July 3, 2017

The trophy killing of grizzly bears is an embarrassment to B.C. It hurts us all, environmentally, morally and economically. It should be stopped.

Thousands of tourists are drawn to grizzly bear-viewing that is now worth up to 10 times more than grizzly hunting in the province. The Commercial Bear Viewing Association reports more than 60 bear-viewing operations in B.C. that are at, or close to, capacity because of their inability to expand into hunted populations.

Increasingly, international travel agents will not send clients to B.C. lodges where grizzly hunting is also supported, and ecotourists are often dismayed that B.C. grizzlies can still legally be killed twice a year. This mixed message can’t help but tarnish B.C.’s branding as a natural wilderness destination, and it jeopardizes millions of dollars in bear-viewing income.

Grizzlies that are hunted become wary and fearful, thus more difficult to view in their natural settings. And the truth is, all grizzly hunting is really trophy hunting.

The consensus is that grizzly meat is unhealthy with bacteria, is distasteful and is only good for heavily spiced jerky, sausage or pepperoni. Bears are generally hunted for their heads, paws and hides, leaving behind an eerily humanoid carcass; a travesty.

The auditor general’s investigation into B.C.’s approach to grizzly-bear management is timely. Estimates of grizzly bear populations are speculative at best, ranging from 6,000 (conservation science) to 15,000 (government science). That’s a huge gap in number models.

B.C. does not have a stand-alone law to protect species and ecosystems at risk. Grizzly bears are already blue-listed in B.C. and are, according to the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, a species of special concern, due to their extreme sensitivity to human intrusion. These bears are wide-ranging omnivores that require widely varied habitats and clear movement corridors in order to forage and find suitable mates.

Habitat loss and fragmentation pose large threats to their viability, but it is human hunting, poaching and conflict kills that are major causes of mortality. Female bears are mistakenly killed at least 30 per cent of the time and a female bear killed in the spring hunt might leave tiny cubs to perish. True bear mortality rates might be much higher than reported.

Grizzly bears are a keystone species that entire ecosystems depend upon for spreading seeds and nutrients throughout their entire range. They have one of the lowest reproductive rates of all North American land mammals, and populations are slow to recover when numbers fall. They have been eliminated from about half of their historical range since the mid-1800s and their largest population now is here in B.C.

Yet each year, the B.C. government sells about 1,800 trophy-hunting licences, and each year, about 300 grizzlies are killed within this system.

The government states that bear viewing and bear killing can co-exist because there are “enough” grizzlies to go around. It’s just not so. For one thing, grizzly viewing has to shut down in locations where grizzly killing is occurring.

In the past 10 years, research into the behaviour and biology of this remarkable species has proliferated through the dedicated efforts of conservation and First Nations groups. This highly intelligent, individualistic bear is believed by some biologists to have an intelligence on par with primates. What value system could possibly justify killing them, based on any numbers, even if those numbers were accurate?

The developed world is becoming savvy to ecological justice — killing bears for sport is an anachronism.

Why does the B.C. government continue to approve the trophy hunt of grizzly bears when it is less economically viable than viewing, violates First Nations law, is contrary to the values of most B.C. citizens and is an unethical action toward a sentient creature?

The answer is elusive: vested interests, lobbying influence, a frontier outlook on human-animal relations or an emotionally charged issue that politicians, and some citizens, might be loath to wade into.

Grizzly killing happens out of view for most of us, but we should all care.

We pledge to do everything we can to raise the grizzly hunt high on political platforms leading up to the 2017 provincial election.

Val Murray of Victoria and Barb Murray of Nanoose Bay, both retired from educational roles, are full-time bear advocates. For more information, go to justiceforbcgrizzlies.com.

Join our letter-writing campaign …

Letters from concerned citizens to politicians, editors or other stakeholders really do get noticed. They can be emailed, so there are lots of them clogging inboxes, or they can be sent surface mail. You can keep it short, e.g.:

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.

If you want to add more to your letter, feel free to draw on this Op-ed piece written by Val and Barb, printed in the Times Colonist, Victoria, July 3/16.

** PLEASE CC justiceforbcgrizzlies@telus.net on each letter that you email or send so that we can track our “concerned citizens” and their actions. All information will be kept strictly confidential. Thank you so much! **

~~ We will stay in touch and keep you informed ~~

Some addresses and emails for politicians below:

Honourable Christy Clark, Premier
West Annex – Parliament Buildings
Victoria, BC
V8V 1X4
premier@gov.bc.ca

Mr. John Horgan
Leader, New Democrat Official Opposition
Room 201 – Parliament Buildings
Victoria, BC
V8V 1X4
john.horgan.MLA@leg.bc.ca

Honourable Shirley Bond
Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training
Room 138 – Parliament Buildings
Victoria, BC
V8V 1X4
shirley.bond.MLA@leg.bc.ca

Honourable Steve Thomson
Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources Operations
Room 248 – Parliament Buildings
Victoria, BC
V8V 1X4
steve.thomson.MLA@leg.bc.ca

Andrew Weaver, MLA
219 – 3930 Shelbourne St.
Victoria, BC
V8P 5P6
andrew.weaver.MLA@leg.bc.ca

 

 

Disgraceful Photo and Practise of Killing Grizzlies for just their heads and photo op!

Bears Matter added: Poster fr BC Guide Outfitters materials in 2013!

Letter copied to Bears Matter and reproduced with permission:

Subject: Super, Natural British Columbia and trophy hunting
Date: March 25, 2016 at 11:14:55 AM PDT
To: shirley.bond.mla@leg.bc.ca
Cc: premier@gov.bc.ca

Dear Minister Bond,
I’ve lived and worked in British Columbia all my life and every day am grateful to have been born here. The recently launched Destination B.C. materials showcase our province’s people, the animals, the communities and pristine wild spaces and I think “yes, this is what my home looks like”.

But there is a glaring disconnect between what the material portrays of B.C. wildlife and the continued legal practice of trophy hunting in this province. It’s a serious schism. Killing wild animals for sport or trophy is a violent, disrespectful practice that certainly wouldn’t be included in tourism materials. This highlights a glaring misalignment of attitudes toward our wild species that needs to be remedied.

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B.C. Has its Own Version of Cecil the Lion by Julius Strauss and Kevin Smith

Banff Bear Sighting 20140318

Grizzly bear viewing is a growing tourism business that brings in millions of dollars to the B.C. economy. PHOTO: Jonathan Hayward/CP

While the world has been gripped by the sad fate of Cecil the Lion, shot earlier this week by an American trophy hunter on the plains of Africa and left to die, British Columbia has many of its very own Cecils quietly bringing millions of dollars into the provincial economy.

Over the last two decades, grizzly bear viewing in B.C. has grown from a tiny niche business to one estimated be worth $30 million in direct revenue to the economy in 2012, according to the Centre for Responsible Travel’s study conducted with Stanford University.

This is more than 10 times as much as the industry of killing bears for sport.

And yet, this industry is under pressure from trophy hunting.

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Times Colonist Editorial: Bear Killings are a Moral Issue

When he refused to kill two orphaned bear cubs, B.C. conservation officer Bryce Casavant put his career on the line. But he also sparked a needed debate about the morality of killing “problem” animals.

The incident that triggered this controversy occurred near Port Hardy three weeks ago, after the mother of the cubs was shot for raiding a freezer. Despite being ordered to destroy the eight-week-olds, Casavant took them to a local animal shelter for treatment.

For this act of human decency, Casavant was suspended. He remains at home while the Environment Ministry, where he works, conducts an assessment of his actions.

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