co-authored by Tommy Knowles, Wildlife Defence League
For most Canadians, the end of the Harper era brought hope for the return of reason to environmental policy in this country. Not so on the West Coast, where B.C. premier Christy Clark has assumed the Harper mantle of industrialization over conservation and declared her own war against wildlife.
Recently proposed changes to hunting regulations show Clark has saved her most violent contempt for two of our most majestic species -- wolves and grizzlies.
For wolves, the changes mean lifting the limitations on the number of wolves hunters can kill in the Peace Region. Hunters will also be able to kill wolves year-round.
Under current limits, hunters can only kill three wolves each year in the Peace Region, between August 15 and June 15. Even with these "bag limits," recreational and trophy hunters already kill close to 1.000 wolves annually in B.C.
This new attack on wolves is in addition to the controversial wolf cull, in which 200 wolves per year will be shot by taxpayer-funded hunters in helicopters operating in the Peace and Selkirk regions of the province. The excuse, widely discredited by scientists, is that killing wolves is necessary to save endangered caribou.
For grizzlies, however, the Clark government has no justification -- not even unscientific -- for the proposed three-fold increase in bears to be killed in the Peace Region. That is almost certainly because there is none. That is, unless you count donations totaling over $73,000 to the B.C. Liberals by guide outfitter organizations, who clearly profit from the 300 to 400 grizzlies shot each year in the province.
On the other hand, the reasons to end the killing of wolves and bears in B.C., whether through culls or hunters, are many. Below are just a few of the reasons why Christy Clark's war on wolves and grizzles must be stopped. Signal your opposition to the increased killing by signing this petition.
1. Killing wolves won't save caribou
Caribou are in trouble because their habitat has increasingly been cut up and taken over by industry. The prestigious scientific journal Nature agrees that the wolf cull is futile and habitat protection is the only real answer.
2. Wolf cull linked to forest industry
As reported in the Globe and Mail, there's evidence that the wolf cull is more in the interests of forest companies than caribou. In initiating the wolf cull, the B.C. environment minister was taking advice from the forest industry, who were concerned about habitat protections for caribou.
3. Killing wolves doesn't protect livestock
Despite claims, wolves aren't a significant predator of livestock to begin with. But culling wolves actually increases their predation on cattle. Disrupting the family structure of wolf packs leads to more hungry wolves looking for a quick meal.
4. The hunt is inhumane
A video posted by the Wildlife Defense League last September showed the true suffering involved in the trophy hunt for grizzlies. Wolves also suffer when they find themselves in a hunter's sights. Aerial gunning is even less likely to kill swiftly -- this is what it looks like when wolves are shot from helicopters or airplanes (includes graphic scenes).
5. The wolf cull is now targeting families
As if shooting wolves from helicopters isn't cruel enough, they'll now be using airplanes to track "Judas" wolves -- wolves tagged with radio collars the previous year. Following them right to their dens, snipers will be able to target whole families and extended families of wolves.
6. The grizzly trophy hunt is unsustainable
While the government claims there are 15,000 grizzlies in B.C., conservation biologists universally pan the government's numbers as pure speculation. Many argue that the hunt is unsustainable and threaten the grizzly's survival. The European Union agrees - they banned imports of all B.C. grizzly parts after their analysis found the trophy hunt to be unsustainable.
7. Hunting limits are routinely exceeded
The trophy hunt was approved before the government had estimates of bear numbers in all regions of the province. And not only are the government's grizzly population numbers much more uncertain than they let on, it is well-known that hunters routinely kill more than the government limits.
8. Wildlife viewing is better for the economy than hunting
Among the findings of the Center for Responsible Travel's 2014 study was that tourists engaged in bear viewing spend 12 times what resident and non-resident hunters spend combined. They also found that bear viewing generates 11 times more revenue for the B.C. government than the trophy hunt.
9. Coastal First Nations oppose the grizzly hunt
Coastal First Nations have banned grizzly bear hunting in the Great Bear Rainforest and groups like the Coastal Guardians Watchmen are actively working to ensure that their traditional laws are being upheld. But grizzly hunt licenses granted by the B.C. government means that despite these efforts, bears continue to be taken as trophies.
10. 90 per cent of British Columbians oppose the trophy hunt
There is perhaps no other issue in British Columbia where such an overwhelming majority of its citizens agree. Polls have consistently shown that nine out of 10 British Columbians -- including hunters of other species -- want the grizzly hunt to end. The people of B.C. clearly place a high value on preserving our wildlife. It is time the B.C. Liberals listened.
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