Topics of Interest

B.C.’s top hunting guide for 2015 found guilty of hunting grizzly with bait

The man named B.C.’s top hunting guide for 2015 was months later found guilty of illegally hunting a grizzly with bait.

In March, Martin Thomas was named by the Guide Outfitters Association of B.C. (GOABC) as the recipient of the Leland Award, recognizing “guide professionalism,” at the association’s annual general meeting in Kelowna.

Read more.

Olympic Anti-Hunting Campaign

The anticipated Olympic anti-hunting campaign by environmental groups and anti-hunting, anti-use groups has begun. Take a look at the list of supporters in the news release below. A lot of the usual suspects back again after the anti-hunting referendum in 1996. However this time they have returned with some big hitters with huge financial resources, namely  the Humane Society of the United States. The difference this time is that they are trying to take a smaller bite and instead of going for a blanket ban on bear hunting are using First Nation representation to focus on closing bear hunting on the North & Central coast. Or the First Nations are using them: it’s a moot point.

This would be an opportune time to write to your local MP as well as the Premier’s office and tell them that it is time to stand up to these anti-hunting, anti-use activists and tell them that they cannot make the rules for resource use in British Columbia.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The “Sport” That Should Be Banned

Growing International Network Calls on B.C. Government to End the “Sport” That it Does Not Want people to Know About — The Trophy Hunt of Bears in the Great Bear Rainforest.
VANCOUVER, BC, February 16, 2010, –/WORLD-WIRE/–

In less than two months, the B.C. government plans to open the trophy hunt of bears in the internationally celebrated Great Bear Rainforest. Trophy hunters will be allowed to gun down vulnerable grizzlies and black bears as they emerge from hibernation.

A growing international network consisting of First Nations, conservation, animal protection and tourism groups — representing more than 15 million members and constituents from over 40 countries — is calling on the government to ban the trophy hunt for ethical, cultural, conservation and economic reasons.

“This is not a sport, it is a senseless slaughter,” said Art Sterritt, Executive Director of Coastal First Nations. “The trophy hunt goes against every moral teaching that we carry and is disrespectful to our culture and values.”

“When one looks at the diversity of groups calling for action, from First Nations and wildlife viewing businesses to some of the world’s leading conservation and animal welfare organisations, it is clear that the time has come to end this anachronistic blood sport.” said Ian McAllister, Executive Director of BC-based Pacific Wild. “With the 2010 Olympic games in town, the eyes of the world are on BC’s environmental practices, and this trophy hunt is tarnishing our reputation.”

“The international condemnation of this trophy hunt will continue to build until the bears in the Great Bear Rainforest are protected,” said Rebecca Aldworth, Executive Director of Humane Society International/Canada. “British Columbia residents and the world community stand united in their opposition to the cruel and needless trophy hunting of bears.”

“British Columbia should be celebrating our wildlife heritage, not killing it for sport or for a senseless trophy,” said Dean Wyatt, owner of Knight Inlet Lodge and a Director of the Commercial Bear Viewing Association. Our businesses depend on healthy bear populations and a positive international reputation.”

For More Information:

Rebecca Aldworth,
Executive Director,
Humane Society International
Canada phone: (514)575-6797
raldworth@humanesociety.org

Ian McAllister,
Executive Director,
Pacific Wild
phone:(250)957-2480
ian@pacificwild.org

Art Sterritt,
Executive Director of Coastal First Nations
phone: (604)868-9110

Dean Wyatt,
Coastal Bear Viewing Association,
phone (250)203-0353

Background:
– The Great Bear Rainforest, located on the BC central and north coast, contains the largest tracts of intact old growth temperate rainforest on earth.

– Each spring and fall season, the government of British Columbia allows trophy hunters, both local and foreign, to kill bears in the Great Bear Rainforest.

– A 2009 Ipsos Reid poll shows that 79 percent of British Columbians oppose the trophy hunting of bears.

– Of the 430 grizzlies killed in 2007 in BC, 87 percent were killed by trophy hunters. Approximately 300 BC grizzly bears are killed annually.

– Bear viewing is far more lucrative than bear hunting in BC. One bear viewing lodge in Knight inlet alone generates more revenue than the entire combined grizzly bear hunting industry.

Signatories of ad campaign: For ad download go to: www.pacificwild.org (Ad in Vancouver Sun today, Feb 16 pgA13)

Pacific Wild
Humane Society International/Canada
Humane Society of the United States
Humane Society
Wildlife Land Trust
Coastal First Nations
Greenpeace
Sierra Club BC
Western Canada Wilderness Committee
David Suzuki Foundation
The Spirit Bear Youth Coalition
Valhalla Wilderness Society
Bears Matter
Forest Ethics
Animal Rights Sweden
Freedom for Animals – Croatia
Brigitte Bardot Foundation – France
Franz Weber Foundation – Switzerland
Global Action in the Interest of Animals (GAIA) – Belgium
Fundacion para la Adopcion, Apadrinamiento y Defensa de los Animales (FAADA) – Spain
Four Paws (International)
Respect for Animals – UK
Commercial Bear Viewing Association of British Columbia
Robin Wood Canopy

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BCWF ALERT

Two groups at odds in determining the fate of the bears

By: George T. Baker

The Daily News
Prince Rupert

February 18, 2010

A local notice in the newspaper placed by the BC Wildlife Federation may have broken what little potential there was for an agreement between B.C.’s Coastal First Nations and the BCWF.

The notice questions First Nations in Prince Rupert on whether they are aware of representation on their behalf by an ad hoc group named Coastal First Nations, a body that is advocating for the end of trophy hunting of bears on the coast.

Art Sterrit, head of Coastal First Nations, told the Daily News – after seeing the open letter for the first time – that this would be likely to severe any relationship developed between First Nations and the BCWF.

“We thought we were coming to an understanding and eventually an agreement over sustenance hunting with the BCWF. So, now I find out they have tried to undermine the political autonomy of First Nations along the coast. It won’t be tolerated – though I am not surprised,” said Sterrit.

In the BCWF notice, which is signed by BCWF president Mel Arnold, questions are raised over who appointed the group and what gave them the right to represent the communities. They also wanted to know if local First Nations have been properly consulted by the CFN, and whether CFN had the right to restrict future generations of First Nations from hunting.

“Ordinarily we would not get involved in the business of First Nations people or their relationships with the BC Government; however in this case an effort is being made by the consortium to virtually eliminate residents’ long and established cultural right to hunt.”

The intent of the letter, said BCWF Skeena regional representative Ken Franzen, is to fight fire with fire.

A massive ad was purchased in the Vancouver Sun signed by an international network consisting of First Nations, conservation, animal protection and tourism groups – representing more than 15 million members and constituents from over 40 countries – calling on the government to ban the trophy hunt for ethical, cultural, conservation and economic
reasons.

The campaign – which includes the Coastal Bear Viewing Association, Pacific Wild and the Humane Society of B.C. – is hoping that world attention on the Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver will result in eyes turned towards their cause.

“We have no choice but to respond,” commented Franzen. “We have hunted bears for a long time in this country and its not like we have a conservation concern. That would be different.”

Sterrit, however, is not amused.

“Our attempts at a relationship with the BCWF are finished,” proclaimed Sterrit.

“[First Nations] teach our children not to make fun of animals  – we teach them that.”

Open Letter to all British Columbia MLAs

BC Wildlife Federation
Unit 101 – 3060 Norland Avenue

Burnaby, BC V5B 3A6

February 19, 2010

Open Letter to all British Columbia MLAs:

Recently representatives for BC Wildlife Federation (BCWF) met collectively with Ministers George Abbott, Barry Penner and Bill Bennett. BCWF had submitted a brief for their review which highlighted our members’ concerns with regard to the direction this government is taking generally in resolving many First Nations issues. This letter is a summary of those concerns and expresses the need for more balance in adjusting First Nations’ demands to the needs of all other citizens of the province.

We also appeal to you personally to become informed of matters that are now of critical importance to many British Columbians.

The courts, in a general fashion, usually accompanied by directions to negotiate balanced solutions, are defining aboriginal rights. These decisions are then loosely interpreted by the government and increasingly being applied to Crown Lands across the province. We should note, however, that these decisions are usually applied away from the eyes of the urban media.

It appears to BC Wildlife Federation that aboriginal rights only come from court decisions which may be the explanation why First Nations are constantly using the litigation option. Our government, on the other hand, seems to shun initiating this course of action. We fail to understand this apprehension on the part of government in light of the fact that most court decisions clarify First Nations rights and also for the most part, recognize and provide protection for the rights of all Canadians.

Access to lands and resources is becoming increasingly difficult for industry and the citizens of the province. For industry, it appears a patchwork has emerged of putting investment into resources where First Nations are favoured at a price. There is no faith in policies seen as constantly evolving and applied on a piecemeal basis. For the average citizen, there are no options. They have no input to the negotiations so that government understands their values; they have no funds to compensate First Nations for access to recreate and they have no ability

to suggest compatible solutions to complex issues of land and resource use.

In all of these scenarios, the average citizen of the province is excluded and, because of the “Lets Make a Deal” mindset, solutions are imposed that have no chance of benefiting the province or, sadly, First Nations.

We would remind all that the premise government put on the requirement for treaty negotiations was to develop and create “certainty.” The facts are that certainty on aboriginal rights comes only from court decisions. The current government course provides no certainty for either party and promotes a never-ending negotiations process even after final agreements are signed.

For government, reconciliation agreements are being struck that transfer shared decision making and revenues directly to First Nations. These revenues are part and parcel of the social fabric of the province. They pay for health programs, educational programs, highway building and other functions of government. We urge you to understand and determine the increasing long-term impacts that the loss of these revenues will have on the maintenance and support of the programs on which all British Columbians depend sustainability is critical for the future of our province. To what extent is the authority of the Crown being compromised in shared decision making agreements? Does “shared decision making” now confer a high level of recognition which invites conflict if not clarification in a high level legal challenge? Our legal advice is that the “shared decision” process in fact provides a veto for First Nations on any proposal to utilize public natural resources.

Indeed, is the province not avoiding resolution of provincial jurisdiction over public lands and resources by failing to get on with its appeal of the William decision?

Ultimately, as an elected MLA, you are part of government, accountable to your constituents and their questions and must be answerable not just to those constituents but to future generations of British Columbians.

In terms of the direction this government is taking regarding dialogue with First Nations for protocols, agreements and treaties, any opportunity for public involvement has been scrapped subsequent to the 2002 referendum. The development of government to government negotiations has unfortunately distanced the public who pay for all this process. We urge you to question the wisdom of supporting this exercise in alienation, not just in terms of individual political ends, but rather as a matter of conscience in being responsible for the social landscape

and future opportunities for all British Columbians.

We request you consider and appreciate that all sectors and citizens of this province deserve the same level of consultation as is currently given to First Nations surrounding land use decisions. We further request you actively bring suggestions forward with your colleagues in government that can include the public in some meaningful way in the development of agreements with First Nations.

Specifically, with respect to land use, BCWF is keenly interested in the decision making process that impacts our members’ access to fish and wildlife resources. The management of these resources has been traditionally based on science. Increasingly, it appears decisions are being made on political grounds that would give in to demands by First Nations for exclusive opportunities. Complaints by First Nations of infringement, not of any right but on an ability to harvest, seemingly need no basis in data or fact. Evidence of not harvesting sufficient to their

(First Nations’) needs doesn’t appear necessary for our Ministry to propose restrictions on residents completely devoid of conservation reasoning. We urge you to consider the risks to our fish and wildlife resource if management decisions are made for reasons of appeasing groups rather than on a scientific basis. We respectfully request your support when we bring these inconsistencies forward to our appropriate Ministers.

In closing, we wish to remind you that BC Wildlife Federation currently represents and enjoys the support of over 37,000 members throughout the province. These members are citizens who are outdoors people who recreate, hunt and fish often as family units. We draw to your attention that recreational fishing in this province generates in excess of $1.5 Billion for our economy each year. Angling also generates 17,400 jobs in this province every year. Hunting generates something in the order of another $500 Million and upwards of another 2,000 jobs.

Recreational angling in this province generates annually $115 Million to the provincial treasury and a further $170 Million to the federal treasury. Hunting contributes an additional $40 Million provincially and $50+ Million federally.

Access to lands and our fish and wildlife resources is important to these citizens as are all public resources to other British Columbians.

We respectfully urge you to consider the points we have raised here. The future of all British Columbians is very much a vision that must be analyzed by you personally in terms of a balance that assures ample opportunities for all.

Yours in conservation,

Mel Arnold, President

BC Wildlife Federation

BCWF: Open Letter to First Nations People living on the North & Central Coast

February 11, 2010

It has been brought to the attention of BC Wildlife Federation that a number of Coastal First Nation Bands have formed a consortium going by the name of “Coastal First Nations”. See www.coastalfirstnations.ca for more information. Does this Coastal First Nations group represent all First Nations members along the entire Coast? Ordinarily we would not get involved in the business of First Nations people or their relationship with the BC Government; however in this case an effort is being made by the consortium to virtually eliminate residents’ long and established cultural right to hunt.

It is troubling to us that after speaking to numerous First Nations people living in Prince Rupert, no one was aware of the consortium or their efforts to end bear hunting on the North and Central Coast. In addition, none of the First Nations people we spoke with were opposed to bear hunting if it is done in a sustainable manner. In fact, some of the people we spoke with either hunted bears or had a family member who hunted bears.

The intent of this letter is to encourage you to ask a number of questions.

Have you been properly consulted by those who claim to represent your interest? It is our belief that First Nations people living on the North and Central Coast hunted bears traditionally for food, clothing and tool-making material. What right do those who claim to represent you have to restrict future generations of First Nations people from hunting bear?

Residents in British Columbia and Canada have a long history of hunting and trapping for fur and for meat. It is a part of our heritage and our culture stemming back to the early days of the Hudson’s Bay Company and before.

For the benefit of those that don’t know, we wish to explain how the Ministry of Environment establishes the annual allowable harvest of bears and how the hunts are managed.

The Ministry of Environment conducts random surveys along with identifying the different types of habitats available for bears. A population is established for each bear population area. There is a harvest percentage provided for each population unit. Hunting only occurs where the population can sustain a harvest over time. Hunting for bears can occur in either the spring or fall. Black bears are estimated at 120,000 to 160,000 animals in the province. White or blue coloured phases of black bears are not hunted.

Grizzly bears, because of their population numbers (approximately 16,000), are only hunted through Limited Entry Hunting for residents or quota system for non-residents. The current licensed harvest rate is approximately 2% of the population. Natural population recruitment is typically 6% – 8%.

There is a scientific, peer reviewed, Grizzly Bear Harvest Management Policy that guides all grizzly bear hunting opportunity. This strategy was developed by independent scientists not working for the Ministry. It has many special safeguards including vast no hunting areas to ensure that grizzly bears will not be over hunted as conservation is always the first priority.

It has been expressed by the “Coastal First Nations” consortium that they have an interest in pursuing commercialized bear viewing. Members of BC Wildlife Federation have concerns about this unregulated activity. We believe that all wild animals should remain wild and not become habituated or dependant on humans to live. Habituation means that an animal loses its instinct to avoid humans and no longer acts in a natural way or looses its ability to forage naturally. We have always commented that commercial bear viewing can occur but should not cause the habituation of any animals. The habituation of bears leads to their inevitable demise. For example, a habituated bear who wanders into a schoolyard because it has become accustomed to human interaction, or looks for easy food, becomes a public safety issue and will be destroyed and disposed of at the expense of the taxpayers of this province.

BCWF looks for positive solutions where there is a tolerance for each other’s views and opportunities. All hunters need to respect each other’s needs and continue to promote sustainable hunting. Commercial bear viewing needs to be properly regulated to avoid habituation and conflict with others. Those who choose not to hunt need to respect the cultural and traditional importance to those who do.

Yours in conservation,

Mel Arnold, President
BC Wildlife Federation
Unit 101 – 3060 Norland Avenue
Burnaby, BC V5B 3A6
Telephone: 604-291-9990 Fax: 604-291-9933
Toll Free: 1-888-881 BCWF (2293)
officeinfo@bcwf.bc.ca www.bcwf.bc.ca