(SUBMITTED TO TMTV.NET) – New Denver, BC – Thirty-eight environmental and animal welfare organizations, along with wildlife-based businesses and prominent activists, have signed an Open Letter to the BC Government…
opposing the continuation of grizzly bear hunting for meat. “The BC government is planning to end trophy hunting of grizzly bears, but will allow them to be hunted for meat across most of the province, except for part of the Great Bear Rainforest,” says Ian McAllister of Pacific Wild. “We are asking for a complete ban on hunting grizzly bears all over BC.”
The Open Letter says there has never been significant hunting of grizzly bears for meat in BC. “Previously grizzly bears were classified by BC Fish & Wildlife with non-game animals such as wolverines, wolves and cougars,” says Alan Burger of BC Nature. “Hunters were specifically allowed under law to leave the meat on the ground and take only the trophy parts. Many British Columbians are appalled that the government has now invented a grizzly bear meat hunt.”
“People don’t travel hundreds or thousands of kilometres, pay tens of thousands of dollars, and risk their lives shooting at grizzly bears to put meat on the table,” the Open Letter states. “They largely do it only for trophies and sport. Even if they have to leave the head, hide and claws behind, they take away trophy videos, photographs and bragging rights. The bears will still be killed for sport”.
The Open Letter disputes the BC government’s claim that hunting grizzly bears is sustainable. “Grizzly bears are a species at risk,” says Wayne McCrory, a bear biologist and Valhalla Wilderness Society director. “For years independent scientists have warned the government that BC may have far fewer grizzly bears than we think”.
“We have thriving grizzly bear viewing and photography businesses in the Interior, just like on the coast,” says famed Kootenay wildlife photographer, Jim Lawrence. “People are thrilled to see these magnificent animals alive and in photographs.
“Stop the Grizzly Killing Society receives comments from many hundreds of people,” says Trish Boyum, who has campaigned tirelessly to protect grizzlies. “It is clear that British Columbians want a total ban on killing grizzly bears across BC, except where they would be hunted by some First Nations People for sustenance and ceremonial purposes.”
“Collectively, our organizations, which represent the majority of British Columbians, urge the BC government not to authorize any further grizzly bear hunting until it has done a full review of public input and the soon-to-be released Auditor General’s report. This is a very critical conservation issue in our province and we have an opportunity to do it right.,” says Dr. Sara Dubois, Chief Scientific Officer of the BC SPCA.
The open letter can be downloaded at: http://bearmatters.com/lettertocgovtopposinghuntinggrizzlybearsformeat/
• Animal Advocates of BC
• Animal Alliance of Canada
• Animal Justice
• Animal Protection Party
• Applied Conservation GIS
• BC Nature
• BC SPCA
• Bears Matter
• Canadians for Bears
• Clayoquot Action
• Craighead Institute
• David Suzuki Foundation
• DeerSafe Victoria
• First Nations Environmental Network
• Friends of the Lardeau River
• Friends of Nemaiah Valley
• George Rammell Grizzly bear activist
• Great Bear Chalet
• Humane Society International/Canada
• Justice for B.C. Grizzlies
• Kootenay Reflections Photography
• Kwiakah First Nation
• West Coast Wild Art Co.
• Lifeforce Foundation
• Ocean Adventures Charter Co.
• Ocean Light II Adventures
• Pacific Rainforest Adventure Tours
• Pacific Wild
• Purcell Alliance for Wilderness
• Save the Cedar League
• Steve Williamson Photography
• Stop the Grizzly Killing Society
• The Furbearers
• Tourists Against Trophy Hunting
• Valhalla Wilderness Society
• Wildlife Defence League
• Wolf Awareness Incorporated
• Zoocheck Canada
OPEN LETTER TO THE BC GOVERNMENT OPPOSING
THE CONTINUATION OF HUNTING GRIZZLY BEARS FOR MEAT
We, the undersigned environmental and animal welfare organzations, and wildlife-based businesses, are pleased that the current BC government is committed to end the trophy hunt of grizzly bears. However we strongly oppose the government’s plans to allow continued grizzly bear hunting, under the pretext of hunting for meat, except for a jointly-regulated First Nations ceremonial/sustenance hunt. Part of the Great Bear Rainforest would have a total ban on hunting, but that’s only a very small part of grizzly bear habitat in BC. We oppose the meat hunt for the following reasons:
1. Grizzly bears are a species at risk. They are blue-listed in BC, and threatened by poaching, human conflicts, habitat destruction and hunting. They have disappeared from 18% of their range in BC. (1) Out of 56 grizzly bear subpopulations in BC, 9 are classified as “threatened” by British Columbia.
2. We expect to see much trophy hunting continued under the guise of “meat” hunting. In the past, virtually all grizzly bear hunting has been trophy hunting, except for First Nations ceremonial / sustenance hunting (which we do not oppose). Many hunters find the meat unpalatable. Grizzly bears were previously included by BC Fish & Wildlife with non-game animals such as wolverines, wolves and cougars. In the past, BC hunting regulations have had a provision allowing hunters to leave the meat on the ground and take only the trophy parts. People do not travel hundreds or thousands of kilometres, pay tens of thousands of dollars, and risk their lives shooting at grizzly bears to put meat on the table. The proposed new regulations for meat hunting will simply disguise trophy hunting as meat hunting. Even if the head, hide and claws are left on the ground, or given to a conservation officer, the hunter will take away trophy videos, photographs and bragging rights. The bears will still be killed for sport.
The BC government is considering various options to distinguish trophy hunting from meat hunting, but they only increase our conviction that this division is unenforceable. For many years BC has been unable to control substantial poaching of bears, how will it account for every trophy part of every bear shot by hunters?
3. The government has claimed the grizzly hunt is sustainable. However, independent biologists have been saying for years that this is not true. We do not even know with certainty how many grizzly bears there are in BC, or how many can be killed without reducing the population. Peer-reviewed studies by scientists have found numerous cases of too many bears being killed (by all causes), even according to the government’s own population numbers. Studies have proven that hunters often kill too many female bears. The European Union investigated BC’s grizzly bear hunt, ruled it environmentally unsustainable, and banned the import of trophies.
4. Closing the meat hunt in a limited area will concentrate hunting in other areas. While the government proposes to stop all grizzly bear hunting in a 230,000-hectare area of the Great Bear Rainforest, this is only a small part of grizzly bear habitat across BC. Grizzly bear hunting in this area will simply move to other coastal and interior areas of the province.
In addition, the undersigned object to the following aspects of the public consultation process for the new grizzly bear hunting regulations.
1. The process only considers how to manage the meat hunt, not whether there should even be a meat hunt. Participants are forced to accept the meat hunt as fait accompli.
2. Poor public access to information. Only those who sign confidentiality agreements can have access to some important information. Only those willing to sign the confidentiality agreements can be “stakeholders”, which receive priority consultation. The government has not released a complete list of stakeholders. The process was not advertised until recently, when it had already been running about a month, unbeknownst to many undersigned organizations. The confidentiality agreements represent muzzling of public organizations and suppressing information.
In June of this year, 23 organizations concerned with the welfare of wildlife sent a letter to the BC government that stated: “The wildlife of the province belongs to all British Columbians, and has by law been held by the government in trust.” The letter came about because the provincial government had been giving hunting organizations and related businesses priority access to consultation on matters related to wildlife, resulting in glaring policy bias.
Today the undersigned organizations and businesses are seeking increased recognition by the government that BC wildlife belongs to all Canadians, who have an equal stake in how it is managed, and an equal right to relevant information. We expect proportionate representation in all provincial wildlife matters. BC has over 1,500 species at risk. Recognizing the worldwide biodiversity crisis, the management of our wildlife must shift away from maximizing how many animals hunters can kill, to the practice of conservation biology to ensure the survival of species at risk.
We hold that the upcoming Auditor General’s report on the grizzly bear hunt — which was due to be released in September — is critical information for all parties to have before making decisions on this issue. Rushing to change the hunting regulations before the report is released wastes the tax dollars that have been spent to better inform decision-making. We urge the BC government not to authorize any further grizzly bear hunting until it has done a full review of public input and the soon-to-be released Auditor General’s report.
1. COSEWIC assessment and update status report on the Grizzly Bear of Canada, https://www.registrelep-sararegistry.gc.ca/default.asp?lang=En&n=A32186C4-1&offset=9
2. Artelle, K. A., Anderson, S. C., Cooper, A. B., Paquet, P. C., Reynolds, J. D., Darimont, C. T., “Confronting Uncertainty in Wildlife Management: Performance of Grizzly Bear Management,” PLOS ONE, Nov. 2013, Vol. 8, http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article/file?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0078041&type=printable=
Wildsight statement on Teck’s $1.4M Fisheries Act fine
Teck pleaded guilty and was fined $1.4M under the Fisheries Act for releasing pollution from their Line Creek water treatment facility in 2014. The three releases of contaminated water killed at least 74 bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout.
“The fish populations in the Elk and Kootenay watersheds are world-renowned. A central principle of good management is that polluters should pay, but this failure points to much larger, longer-term water pollution issues in the Elk Valley and the Kootenay River,” says Robyn Duncan, Wildsight’s Executive Director.
Teck’s Line Creek facility is the first of many planned water treatment facilities designed to remove selenium, which causes birth defects and reproductive failure in fish, amphibians and other aquatic species, from water flowing into the Elk River watershed and then into the Kootenay River. Beyond the 2014 incident, there are ongoing issues with the treatment plant technology. Selenium-containing waste rock, expected to leach the pollutant for centuries, continues to pile up at Teck’s five Elk Valley coal mines.
“While much effort has gone into tackling the issue of dangerous selenium contamination running off from waste rock dumps at the Elk Valley coal mines, the problem is still far from solved,” says Duncan. “This 2014 failure and other ongoing issues at the Line Creek water treatment plant show that the selenium problem needs much more attention.”
“Wildsight supports the trans-boundary Ktunaxa Nation’s call for a binational commission with the US to address selenium and other water quality issues that flow from the Elk Valley into the US. Our rivers deserve the best possible protection and the status quo simply isn’t good enough,” adds Duncan.