Letter to the Editor

Keep the bear hunt interlopers at bay Open Letter to BC Premier Gordon Campbell: The BC Wildlife Federation is aware of a campaign to gather…

Keep the bear hunt

interlopers at bay

Open Letter to BC Premier Gordon Campbell:

The BC Wildlife Federation is aware of a campaign to gather signatures for a letter to you on July 23, 2008, with a petition to stop the hunting of grizzly bears in this province. 

This campaign is just another attempt by animal rights activists to discredit your Environment ministry’s work on this subject.

This letter campaign is led by an organization called Big Wildlife, which is not a BC-based organization, but an American organization based in Oregon that was created as recently as 2006.

Big Wildlife is using a “communications director” based in Vancouver to justify its interference in our province’s business.

The gist of this, and other similar activist organizations’ arguments for this campaign is the same:  First, they claim that there is an indiscriminate and unscientific allocation of wildlife available to hunting.

Second, they quote a number of bears killed in a given year or in a period to claim these numbers show a declining and nonsustainable hunting practice.

In the specific case of grizzly bear hunting, they completely ignore the wildlife management history in this province, which dates back as far as 1911.

The first provincial grizzly bear population estimates date back to 1972 and subsequent reports and refinements in the methods used to calculate bear populations accumulated over the years since then. 

This reflects not only the dedication and care of the ministries in charge of wildlife management, but what has been normal practice in a scientific environment where counting and management methods improve and are refined in time to adapt to the latest research and technology.

The key issue of grizzly bear hunting management in BC hinges on two pillars:  Sustainable population numbers and sustainable harvest quotas based on a provincial wildlife harvest strategy and a Grizzly Bear Scientific Advisory Committee.

Extremely important are the guidelines and clear direction of the provincial grizzly bear harvest management procedure.

This clearly addresses conservation as a most important first priority and provides many comprehensive safeguards for harvest opportunities.

With regards to grizzly bear populations, the accepted estimates are 17,000 bears in the province.

These estimates are based on different methods, which have been refined over the years after a continuing review of numbers, habitat carrying capacity and a concentrated effort to eliminate subjectivity.

DNA hair sampling is recognized as the standard by jurisdictions throughout the world.

The animal rights group’s strategy is to focus on the estimating aspect of these papers, clinging to the uncertainty level of those reports that, true to their scientific roots, accept a margin of uncertainty in their counts.

The BCWF denounces the irresponsible assertions made by these groups stating the estimates are not scientific or that they lack scientific credibility or that they haven’t gone through a rigorous independent scrutiny or that bear populations are in decline due to hunting overkill.  

In fact, all this noise is nothing close to the truth of this matter.

With regards to harvest quotas, the supposedly dramatic bear harvest numbers used — 430 bears killed in 2007 for instance — are totally misleading. 

These are not strictly the numbers that have been harvested through hunting.

The harvest numbers also include all nuisance bears killed by conservation officers and all other known mortalities that are reported such as highway and railway collisions.

The harvest numbers for 2007 represent only 2.5 per cent of the estimated bear population, well within the safety margins of sustainability.

Especially considering that the accepted practices of bear conservation and management consider a safe three to six per cent range of maximum annual allowable human-caused mortality.

In addition, exceeding a female grizzly bear mortality rate of greater than 30 per cent of the total harvest in an area halts all harvest opportunities for the existing allocation period.

Furthermore, grizzly hunting — and this applies to most of other types of hunting in BC — is closely monitored and regulated. 

Specific allowable harvests are assigned each year by the Environment ministry for each management unit after careful consideration of bear populations based on tightly controlled management guidelines.  Limited entry hunting also heavily restricts the number of hunters able to hunt grizzly bears.

As any hunter in this province knows, there has been a requirement in BC, since 1976, to bring any grizzly bear they harvest to a provincial government inspection station for compulsory inspection thus ensuring close monitoring of this hunt.

Ultimately, the activist group’s objective is not only to discredit the data, but to open the way to legal challenges based on pre-sumed management failings.

Clearly, another objective is to limit access to hunting and/or curtail wildlife use.

They don’t care about livelihoods, social and food requirements, culture or heritage.

Campbell, as you can see from the information we present to you, this campaign and other similar attempts to discredit the work of your Environment ministry and its officials, scientists and advisers, has no base on facts. 

Moreover, we need to defend the original traditions of Canada, which have included hunting, fishing and trapping from the beginning. 

We are a hunting and fishing nation and this province proudly has 100,000 hunters and 500,000 fishers which reflects our commitment to the Western outdoors lifestyle.

The BC Wildlife Federation with 130 associated clubs and over 30,000 members rejects this campaign as unworthy of merit and supports your Environment ministry wildlife conservation work.

We would welcome the opportunity to provide further information on this matter to your office or other interested parties.

Mel Arnold, president,  Patti MacAhonic, executive director, BC Wildlife Federation, Burnaby, BC

Only backward

societies support justice

for all citizens

Your pushing Omar Khadr as a hero shows just how backward our society is.

It also calls into question the whole issue of truth in journalism.

I wish I had the fantastic wealth of “reliable” sources you have at your disposal.

Guantanamo prison is a terrible place.

What makes it terrible is the presence of hardened criminals bent on America’s destruction.

We don’t know how many lives the detention and isolation of these people have saved. There are plenty more who should join them there.

I say, if they are going to release Khadr, they should send him back to Afghanistan where he was first picked up.

“Yes,” you say, “but he will be tortured.”

Interesting how you don’t care if American or Israeli soldiers are tortured.

Somehow, they deserve it.

Dale Worsfold

Watson Lake