Letters to the Editor 2

Licence to kill I would like to address some of the issues regarding the proposed changes to the Wildlife Act since it’s too late to turn in…

Licence to kill

I would like to address some of the issues regarding the proposed changes to the Wildlife Act since it’s too late to turn in the supplied booklet for comments.

Firstly I would like to know who authored this booklet — Calvin and Hobbes?

Section one is a proposal to hunt elk and the reasoning fades to black. It’s as if certain people want this change just because they are there. Both of the herds in the Yukon are pretty shallow on numbers and this policy of importing animals for future hunts is a slap in the face for an animal supposedly as evolved as we are.

Next you will be telling us that killing them is humane because of the tick infestation.

It was pretty clear from the opening section that there is an open-season mentality at work here. No doubt all involved are hunters, trappers and outfitters or married to them.

Under the heading “what is this proposal?” the writers go on to explain what is needed for the hunt to occur. It reads like a stand-up routine. Comedy gold.

At the stroke of a pen you will simply remove the elk from the protected wildlife list and then incredibly name them a big game animal.

Why don’t we all petition the officials in the Serengeti to remove the rhino from the protected list and sell a few tags?

Section two deals with the bison, another imported animal seemingly to be hunted. Why is there a regime needed to increase success rates?

And where does this claim that “it reduces the impact of hunters on the land” come from? What impact? Are they being shot at?

Nature is the best management system — not you people, as proven by all the false needs presented in this booklet. Sooner or later bears and maybe wolves will figure out how to prey on them. That is, if natural predators are not legislated out of the Yukon.

The next section deals with our latest immigrants that relocated here on their own … deer.

They have moved here because of the pressures put on them from down south and have barely even got a foothold yet. Any hunt of this animal is preposterous let alone issuing extra permits for youth to preserve this “territory’s heritage.”

Why not join the 21st century instead?

On the one hand, you have a conservation officer going on the public record that he knows there are plenty because of road kill. And on the other hand a different officer claiming in the other paper in an article concerning a cougar/lynx encounter, that the deer are very few.

So which is it? No doubt in the near future a cougar hunt will follow. I simply do not understand the endless willingness to shoot everything in sight.

Moving right along to the sheep — there’s already enough non-resident Canadians, Americans and Europeans coming over here and killing for trophies with the help of our resident sellouts called outfitters.

They have wiped everything out in their own countries so we let them rattle of a few here. In addition, did the writer off the sheep proposal read his/her premise?

You want to allow non-resident Canadians with a limited chance to kill a sheep to generate cash to manage them. That’s certifiable.

Next comes this continent’s greatest scapegoat — the wolf. They are all but extinct everywhere else, and the continued policies, protocols and procedures in this territory seem destined to get rid of them completely.

I’m surprised that they are not blamed for low bird counts or the price of gas. I get a kick out of the semantics used throughout this report in place of ‘kill’ and ‘death’. “Bag limits” and “harvesting”, as if one is picking up apples from a market or taking in a truckload of grain.

Your attempt at sugarcoating with lame metaphors almost says it all. The archaic and cruel ritual of a spring wolf hunt is already allowed and now you want to extend it.

Hunts such as these destroy entire packs by killing the parents of pups and thereby reducing the wolf population as a whole. There is a weakening of the species when you take the strongest animals.

The end justifies the means, I guess. You end by talking about amendments to the wolf conservation and management plan. Which is what, exactly, other than yet another oxymoron?

The grizzly bear section is a classic. Because the outfitters are allowed to abuse the system, the authors want to give resident hunters the same power in fairness.

You further assert a belief that grizzlies take a large portion of moose calves and that by killing bears you save moose. Who’s running these offices? Rip Taylor?

Of course grizzlies eat moose, Einstein. They have for thousands of years. What you are really saying here is you want to kill bears to preserve moose to kill later.

It’s a literal house of cards, this management you speak of throughout this document. Why not just erect a couple of huge signs at the territory’s entrance that read: Welcome to the Yukon, Canada’s Kill Zone.

Kevin Sinclair


Venal victory

Well, they’ve finally done it.

Despite overwhelming public opposition to the project, the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board somehow sees nothing wrong with a mining road through what remains of our wilderness.

This is dire news indeed, and leaves one to wonder if there is any limit to our rapacity.

This was a golden opportunity to exercise restraint, to pull in the reins of environmental devastation in the name of so-called “progress.” But instead the economical imperative wins the day, as usual.

I sure hope we’ll all be very satisfied when we’ve turned everything that’s beautiful in the world into dollars and cents, though I rather suspect we’ll see the emptiness of what this endless greed gives us.

I strongly urge the Yukon government to deny the land-use permit for Cash Minerals’ ill-judged venture in the Wind River basin.

Fred Osson

Dawson City

Another historic point

Re Saint-like sourdough gets his due (the News, December 21):

Jane Gaffin told Jack’s story well and mentions that he left the Yukon in 1897. In fact, he returned in 1898 to build a very large Alaska Commercial Company store at Dawson. It was then that he met Jack London and Wyatt Earp.

London writes that he met McQuesten “at Minook on the lower Yukon” in 1898.  During that same year, Wyatt Earp became great friends with McQuesten’s lifelong business partner, Al Mayo, at Rampart, where Jack London had been engaged in mining.

The four men, McQuesten, Mayo, London, and Earp most likely spent some interesting evenings together, playing cards and sharing stories.

Captain Jack McQuesten returned again, in 1899, for a visit to Dawson, and his last stop, on his way back to Berkeley, CA, was at Nome, AK, where Earp owned a saloon or two. Wilson Mizner, another good friend to both McQuesten and Earp, owned the McQuestion Saloon, at Nome.

There are rumours that McQuesten was “seen occasionally on the streets of Dawson” over the next few years, though there is no definitive proof. In his heart he never left the North and during the last decade of his life, spent in Berkeley, he fed many stories to Jack London, who lived just 16 kilometres away, and also to Robert Service, another frequent visitor to the McQuesten home.

Captain Jack passed away in 1909. His widow, Kate, returned to her homeland from 1910 until 1912, visiting many locations that she and her husband had helped develop during a quarter of a century of parenthood in the Yukon River Valley.

On her departure from her homeland, the Dawson Daily News reported, August 24, 1912:  “Mrs. Kate McQuesten, widow of Jack McQuesten, sails on the steamer Casca, en route to her home in California.”

To quote from my book: “What thoughts must have burned in Kate’s mind of those magnificent days on the Yukon, when she and Jack plied the silent waters, in their riverboat, interacting with natives, miners, and explorers, raising their children and building their towns. If for no other reason, that very day in history deserves to see this book written.”

James McQuiston, Author of Captain Jack: Father of the Yukon, via e-mail