Letter to the Editor

Trapper answers critic I take great pride in talking to our residents, community area recreationalists, biologists, hunters, trappers, elders, and…

Trapper answers critic

I take great pride in talking to our residents, community area recreationalists, biologists, hunters, trappers, elders, and with their blessing, I continue to fight for their rights from home or in a public setting anywhere in the Yukon.

I prefer to use and embrace words like sustainable harvest, where others use annihilate, eradicate and murder.

As some of you may be aware, there has been a bit of a feud brewing between a few individuals and me over issues around harvest, specifically wolf harvest.

In early December, I attended a public meeting in Whitehorse, representing the Teslin Renewable Resource Council on Yukon Wildlife Act regulation changes.

At this meeting, I openly invited one of my critics, Mike Grieco (animal activist), to spend a weekend on my trapline with me in order to give him the opportunity to learn about what actually goes on in the bush while trapping.

After quoting government biologists’ comments regarding wolves at the meeting, I discovered shortly after that my name was plastered all over the internet stating that I (Frank Johnstone) wanted to have 2,000 wolves slaughtered (originally it said 3,000, later changed).

In addition, it was made clear that I am a trapper who has slaughtered many wolves already.

I was shocked to see something like this happen in the Yukon, and it really made me think about my role as a active member of Renewable Resource Council who is trying to prevent the demise of an age-old industry steeped in Canadian tradition and First Nation heritage.

It is really rather shocking. Just Google Frank Johnstone Myspace and read it for yourself. I know my lawyer is!

Several weeks later, I was chatting with someone who is a mutual friend of Grieco.

As I don’t know Grieco personally, I asked if he would deliver to him (in person), an educational gift from a trapper.

It was a cleaned, bleached wolf skull with proper permit attached and I asked Grieco’s friend to relay the following message.

“If you look at the skull, you can see it had been partially caved in, most of the teeth are rounded off or missing; if this poor animal caught a rabbit, it likely couldn’t chew it for all the damage to its skull from previous injury.

“When I trapped it, it was starving to death. I wanted to send a message that there are crueler ways to die out there than at the hands of a trapper, (starvation being a big one).”

This individual agreed to do this, but for some reason did not relay my message and just put the skull in Grieco’s home mailbox.

This gesture was never intended as a joke of any kind on my part, just another attempt to have meaningful dialogue between people with differing personal values, as my invitation earlier was.

In order to avert any more letters that may follow, along with twisted half-truths and more name calling in an attempt to sensationalize their point, I am writing this final letter to clarify my position.

Mike Grieco, if you do not appreciate the skull, you can always return it.

I will give it to one of our local school science classes.

But, if you want to address our contrasting personal views I would appreciate if you would do it in a face-to-face manner, or through the public entities such as the boards and councils that this territory enacted through the land claims process.

As a proud and very active member of an renewable resource council, I am bound by the rules and responsibilities charged to me, but these responsibilities must be tempered with the objectives of the chapter that they are written in.

In short, I could spout chapter and verse of the Umbrella Final Agreement, but I feel that this would fall upon deaf ears, therefore — as an active trapper for more than 20 years, I want to ensure my trapline is never unsustainably trapped.

Sustainable harvesting is the key to proper management and there are few Yukoners who understand this as well as trappers. Trappers provide valuable information like wildlife disease, population cycles and environmental changes to wildlife agencies on a daily basis.

In our community, trappers and hunters meet with our regional biologist biweekly and discuss what is going on out there — something I gather you know little about from some of your previous comments.

Trapping is part of the fabric of my life, it is a key part of my livelihood and my identity, and 100 per cent all of my revenues made trapping are spent in the coldest darkest days of winter between my community and yours.

I am not accustomed to dealing in the manner that I have been dealt over the past several weeks. I cannot imagine what can be gained by dragging someone’s name through the mud in the cowardly manner that I have been a victim of since this whole fiasco began.

In fact, the entire concept eludes me, because the misinformation that is being portrayed will make its way to many other provinces and states, and I cannot imagine what that will gain for Yukoners.

Maybe people will think all Yukoners are rednecks who do not care about our wildlife, that is not an image I would want to paint of the people of our territory.

I have spent countless hours volunteering and working to do everything in my power to promote local awareness of our environment I do this for the community of Teslin, my children and the Yukon as a whole.

I want to make it clear that because this disagreement has left the field of fair play, I will no longer be writing or responding to the misinformation and sensationalized dialogue that has taken over our debate.

My offer still stands, Grieco: if you want to see what a trapper’s life is all about, I offer you an opportunity to join me on my sustainably harvested trapline.

I do have one caveat though — do not bring your camera or your computer with you — I can only imagine what will end up on the internet if we still do not see eye to eye after your visit.

Frank Johnstone

Teslin Lake

Corn refiners respond

Wednesday’s Yukon News article Born to feed, corn is the crop of greed, may mislead consumers about high-fructose corn syrup.

Dr. Walter Willett, Harvard School of Public Health Nutrition department chairman, told The New York Times, “There’s no substantial evidence to support the idea that high-fructose corn syrup is somehow responsible for obesity.”

New research continues to confirm that high-fructose corn syrup is safe and no different from other common sweeteners like sugar and honey.

High-fructose corn syrup is a natural sweetener and has the same number of calories as sugar. The US Food and Drug Administration granted high-fructose corn syrup Generally Recognized as Safe status for use in food, and reaffirmed that ruling in 1996 after thorough review.

High-fructose corn syrup offers numerous benefits, too.

It keeps foods fresh.

It enhances fruit and spice flavours.

It retains moisture in bran cereals and helps keep breakfast bars moist.

Consumers can see the latest research and learn more at www.HFCSfacts.com.

Audrae Erickson, president, Corn Refiners Association, Washington, D.C.