Tag Archives: Chris Genovali

Times Colonist, Comment: Wildlife-Management Reform is Long Overdue

2015 09 05_0729

TIMES COLONIST AUGUST 11, 2017 http://www.timescolonist.com/opinion/op-ed/comment-wildlife-management-reform-is-long-overdue-1.21795751

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Unsurprisingly, wildlife management in British Columbia is marked by an outdated mindset that primarily views wild animals as a “resource” to be exploited by recreational hunting or as troublesome creatures that need to be killed because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.

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.

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. https://www.raincoast.org
© Copyright Times Colonist

 

Opinion: B.C. government wants grizzly bears dead

Province could buy out hunting tenures and create world’s largest reserve

By Chris Genovali, Special to the Vancouver Sun April 14, 2014
A grizzly bear feeds along a river in Tweedsmuir Provincial Park near Bella Coola.  Photograph by: Jonathan Hayward , THE CANADIAN PRESS

A grizzly bear feeds along a river in Tweedsmuir Provincial Park near Bella Coola. Photograph by: Jonathan Hayward , THE CANADIAN PRESS

We want these bears dead. This is the message the B.C. government’s “reallocation policy” sends to the Raincoast Conservation Foundation, to British Columbians, and to the world.

This policy also prevents the implementation of an innovative solution to end the commercial trophy hunting of grizzlies and other large carnivores throughout the Great Bear Rainforest.

With the mismanaged, and some would say depraved, B.C. grizzly bear hunt having commenced this month, the controversy surrounding the recreational killing of these iconic animals is spiking once again.

A hard-won Raincoast-led moratorium on grizzly hunting in B.C. was overturned in 2001 by Gordon Campbell’s newly elected Liberal government with no justification other than serving as an obvious sop to the trophy hunting lobby. So, what was supposed to be a three-year provincewide ban was revoked after one spring hunting season. Raincoast, recognizing the then-new premier’s mulish intractability on this issue, decided to take a different approach.

Raincoast raised $1.3 million in 2005 to purchase the commercial trophy hunting rights across 24,700 square kilometres of the Great Bear Rainforest. Raincoast purchased an additional 3,500 square kilometres in 2012, including nearly all the habitat of the spirit bear (despite a restriction on killing spirit bears, trophy hunting of black bears that carry the recessive gene that causes the white coat is allowed). The sellers of these hunting tenures received a fair price, bears were safeguarded, and ecotourism prospered, including within coastal First Nations communities.

The province has countered by instituting a so-called reallocation policy (a.k.a. the Raincoast policy), whereby unused (not killed) grizzly bear “quota” would be stripped from Raincoast’s commercial tenures and allocated to resident hunters (B.C. residents who do not require a licensed hunting guide by law).

Bereft of any legitimate argument to justify the recreational killing of grizzlies, provincial wildlife managers stand naked in front of an increasingly disgusted and disapproving public, their blatant cronyism on behalf of the trophy hunting lobby exposed for all to see.

The ecological argument is clear: killing bears for “management” purposes is unnecessary and scientifically unsound. Although attempts are made to dress the province’s motivations in the trappings of proverbial “sound science,” they are clearly driven by an anachronistic ideology that is disconcertingly fixated on killing as a legitimate and necessary tool of wildlife management.

Dr. Paul Paquet, senior scientist at Raincoast and co-author of a recently published peer-reviewed paper on B.C. bear management, states: “We analyzed only some of the uncertainty associated with grizzly management and found it was likely contributing to widespread overkills. I’m not sure how the government defines sound science, but an approach that carelessly leads to widespread overkills is less than scientifically credible.”

The ethical argument is clear: gratuitous killing for recreation and amusement is unacceptable and immoral. Polling shows that nine of 10 British Columbians agree, from rural residents (including many hunters) to city dwellers. In their 2009 publication, The Ethics of Hunting, Drs. Michael Nelson and Kelly Millenbah state if wildlife managers began “to take philosophy and ethics more seriously, both as a realm of expertise that can be acquired and as a critical dimension of wildlife conservation, many elements of wildlife conservation and management would look different.”

The economic argument is clear. Recent research by Stanford University identifies that bear-viewing supports 10 times more employment, tourist spending, and government revenue than trophy hunting within the Great Bear Rainforest. Notably, the Stanford study suggests the revenue generated by fees and licences affiliated with the trophy killing of grizzlies fails to cover the cost of the province’s management of the hunt. As a result, B.C. taxpayers, most of whom oppose the hunt according to poll after poll, are in essence forced to subsidize the trophy killing of grizzlies.

What remains unknown is why the B.C. government so desperately wants these bears dead.

Raincoast stands ready to raise the funds to acquire the remaining commercial hunting tenures in the Great Bear Rainforest, a mutually beneficial solution that guide outfitters have indicated they will not oppose. Although the province, at its political peril, has failed to recognize it, Coastal First Nations have banned trophy hunting under their laws throughout their unceded territories, and the public is overwhelmingly supportive.

Buying out the remaining hunting tenures in the Great Bear Rainforest, coupled with the administrative closure of resident hunting in the region, would create the largest grizzly bear reserve in the world and a model for sustainable economic activity.

Chris Genovali is executive director of Raincoast Conservation Foundation.