Monday, October 23, 2017

Breaking News: Expert Believes Cull of Deer is Necessary

Forest Ecologist Calls For Deer Cull

By Frants Attorp
Special to the Driftwood
The proliferation of deer on the Gulf Islands gained widespread media attention earlier this month when Oak Bay Police Chief Andy Brinton collided with a deer whilst cycling on Salt Spring. Brinton suffered several broken bones but is reportedly going to make a full recovery. The high-profile accident raised the question of whether Salt Spring, like Oak Bay, should consider a deer cull.
* Everyone knows what a financial and social disaster Oak Bay’s 2015 deer cull was. I strongly advise the author to read “An Independent Review of BC’s Urban Deer Management,” McCrory, Paquet and Parr 2017 *
The link to the study is in this article by Animal Alliance of Canada: https://www.animalalliance.ca/campaigns/other-campaigns/deer-in-british-columbia/
One person interviewed extensively was Dr. Tara Martin, a UBC expert in forest ecology who was born and raised on Salt Spring. She believes the deer problem in the Gulf Islands has reached a crisis level and must be addressed as a priority.
According to Martin, there are at least six times as many deer on Salt Spring as is healthy for local ecosystems. “When settlers arrived 150 years ago, there were no more than 1,000 black-tailed deer on the island,” she said. “Today, that number has increased to over 6,000.”
* Another stunning statistic thrown out by someone claiming scientific integrity, with no pretense at corroboration for the claim. *
The population explosion is attributed largely to a loss of traditional hunting by Coast Salish First Nations, and insufficient hunting since. Another contributing factor is the eradication of top predators, cougars and wolves. “There is no longer any top down control to keep the deer population in check,” said Martin.
* That technical term “top down” requires an explanation by the expert in forest ecology. *
Deer overpopulation has been devastating for the local ecology. “Our forests may look beautiful, but they are vastly different than before and in a state of steady decline,” explained Martin. She points out that marvellous wildflowers such as the chocolate lily, the fawn lily and camas, which used to carpet vast areas, have all but disappeared. Also susceptible to over-browsing are shrubs such as Saskatoon berry, huckleberry and red currant. Even arbutus, cedar and Garry oak seedlings are not spared.
* Clearing land for homes and businesses, roads and infrastructure has had a devastating effect on the local ecology on Salt Spring Island. Ferry traffic, visitors hiking to every pristine destination, raising of livestock has had a devastating effect. Personal gardens planted with invasive species, pesticides to keep the aphids off the roses, herbicides to keep the dandelions out of the lawns has had a devastating effect. * 
Deer browsing of the understory is changing the composition and structure of our forests, and this in turn is having a disastrous effect on birds that use that habitat for foraging and nesting. Songbirds such as fox sparrow, winter wren and Wilson’s warbler are becoming increasingly rare. “We are witnessing a cascading ecological collapse due to over-browsing,” said Martin.
* Fencing works. *
There is also the impact on humans to consider. According to Martin, there is an average of one ICBC claim per week on Salt Spring due to vehicles colliding with deer. Some accidents are minor fender benders while others are more serious, involving personal injury.
* There are 52 weeks in a year. Is Tara Martin referring to a particular date range? 2012 - 2015? Or perhaps 2014 - 2017? These are statistics that can be easily followed up with, if only she could provide us with a date range. *
So what is the solution? Martin believes the first obstacle to overcome is the Bambi syndrome which causes some people to value the lives of deer over all other plant and animal species.
* “Bambi syndrome.” Now there’s a term we haven’t heard since 2012, when some Kootenay councilors thought they were being really clever. *
“We have a responsibility to maintain habitat for all species, not just deer,” said Martin. “Yes, deer are beautiful animals, but when there are too many they are tremendously destructive and can drive other species to extinction.
* I can’t touch this comment without bashing my own species [the ‘Unique Super Predator’ Darimont, Fox, Reimchen and Bryan, 2015], so we’ll just have to wait for Tara Martin to clarify her claim. * 
More specifically, Martin wants to see hunting regulations changed to allow a greater bag limit.
* Has Tara Martin asked Salt Spring Island residents how they would feel about people with guns and bows running around their community? I didn’t think so. *
“Two bucks per person is not enough,” she asserts. “And there’s no way to manage the population if hunters aren’t allowed to take females.” She believes hunting is the only cost-effective method of control. Other measures, such as sterilization, are hugely stressful for the animals, extremely costly and often ineffective.
* Sterilization is a surgical procedure that has not been a part of deer management conversations in any province in Canada. Tara Martin is apparently unaware that a pilot project for immunocontraception is currently being conducted in Oak Bay. *
According to Martin, at least a third of the island could be suitable for hunting. This includes First Nations’ land, parks, ecological reserves, forestry lands and other large, private holdings. She would like to see a coordinated effort involving First Nations, BC Parks, the CRD, conservation officers, farmers and local hunters.
“This is a problem we can solve, with tremendous benefits for all.”
* Fencing works. *
Martin would also like to see a change in attitude towards top predators: “There are currently two cougars and a black bear on the island. Let’s allow them to do their job rather than trying to eradicate them. This may involve some changes to how we manage our livestock, such as putting them in at night and having a guard dog, but it is possible.
* It’s highly unlikely that island residents are going to give top predators the run of the island. *
She adds that culling deer will actually make the deer population stronger. A colleague of hers has found high levels of ticks and liver fluke parasite in deer on Salt Spring, which is attributed to their high densities. He has also confirmed that the liver fluke is spreading to livestock. Low levels of the parasite have little effect on animal health, but extreme levels can kill the host animal. Humans, however, are not affected by ingesting the parasite.
* It’s only a matter of time before she cites Lyme Disease as a concern. So far she’s followed all the rules for the vilification of wildlife. *
And what about those pesky rabbits?
* And since we have our guns out, why don’t we just blast away at another species that annoys some of us? *
“They are not native to the island and should therefore be trapped or hunted at every opportunity. They finish up what the deer don’t eat and are contributing to the destruction. Both deer and rabbit are a great source of organic free-range protein. How about serving venison burgers at the Fall Fair?”
* Or how about we follow another cliche and feed them to the poor? *
As evidence that deer control works, Martin points to several small areas on the island that have been fenced off and, as a result, are rebounding to their former glory.
* Yes, folks, fencing works. We’ve been telling you this for years. *
“We have everything to gain by managing the deer population,” she said. “Not only will we reduce the risk to motorists, but also restore our native ecosystems with an abundance of wildflowers and songbirds and at the same time improve the health of the deer population.”

* So, the welfare of the deer is really at the heart of this article.*



Friday, October 6, 2017

38 SIGNATORS SAY GRIZZLY ‘MEAT’ HUNT IS A TROPHY HUNT IN DISGUISE

BCTV, October 6, 2017


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.
38 Signators:
• 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.
Sincerely,
References
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=