October 25, 2015
Miley Cyrus and her brother Braison travelled to the Great Bear Rainforest on the central coast of British Columbia in late September, 2015, to join local wildlife conservationists from Pacific Wild on a research trip. The pop star is a vocal opponent of BC’s wolf cull, which started last January and has drawn international condemnation from environmentalists. The B.C. government has defended it as necessary to save dwindling caribou populations, but briefing notes prepared for meetings between B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak and industry representatives in 2014 suggest the government was prompted by the forest industry to launch the wolf cull because of fears a federal recovery plan for caribou would demand more logging areas be set aside. (April Bencze/Pacific Wild)
British Columbia’s government has been meeting with the forest industry to develop plans to save endangered caribou, and the province appears to have launched its controversial wolf cull program to avoid putting further restrictions on logging.
The wolf kill, which started last January, has drawn international condemnation from environmentalists, but the B.C. government has defended it as necessary to save dwindling caribou populations. Mountain caribou, which need old-growth forest to survive, are listed under the federal Species At Risk Act (SARA), and the province is required to take action to save them.
But briefing notes prepared for meetings between B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak and industry representatives in 2014 suggest the government was prompted by the forest industry to launch the wolf cull because of fears a federal recovery plan for caribou would demand more logging areas be set aside.
“Tolko [Industries Ltd.] is concerned about potential impacts of the federal recovery strategy for the woodland caribou,” says one of the notes, released in response to a Freedom of Information application. Ottawa’s recovery strategy states that caribou need large tracts of “undisturbed habitat rich in mature to old-growth coniferous forest.” It is up to the province to decide how much forest land to set aside. Environmentalists have long complained that B.C. has not made enough old-growth forest off limits to logging.
At the time of Ms. Polak’s meetings, the B.C. government’s mountain caribou recovery implementation program, known as MCRIP, had already set aside some forest land, established a captive breeding program for caribou and limited recreational snowmobile access in caribou areas. But a proposed wolf cull had not yet been launched.
“Actions within the MCRIP have largely been implemented with the exception of effectively managing wolf populations. Industry has criticized government for failing to effectively implement this recovery action, and will be very reluctant to forgo additional harvesting opportunities to meet any additional habitat targets imposed by the federal recovery strategy,” states a briefing note from April, 2014.
B.C.’s wolf cull began several months later.
The briefing notes also show that the forest industry and government were interested “in aligning strategies with respect to dealing with the federal government” on the caribou issue.
One entry states that the province’s caribou plan “had been ‘tested’ with numerous high-level stakeholders, including the Council of Forest Industries,” which represents forestry companies in B.C., before it was posted for public comment.
Wilderness Committee director Gwen Barlee, who filed the FOI application that pried the documents loose, said she is alarmed by how closely the government and the forest industry appear to have been working.
“Are we having the B.C. government write recovery strategies for species at risk, or are we having logging companies writing recovery strategies for species at risk?” she asked.
“A recovery strategy is supposed to be a document created by science,” Ms. Barlee said. “Obviously, the recovery strategies are becoming polluted with the economic interests of logging companies … and that is not supposed to be the case.”
Sean Nixon, a lawyer with Ecojustice, also found the government briefing notes disturbing.
“This looks like the forest industry in B.C. is either directing the government’s policy on species at risk where that might affect timber harvesting, or at a minimum the provincial government is running the policy by the forest industry to make sure that it’s okay with them. Either is troubling,” he said.
If a provincial government does not “effectively protect” any endangered species listed under SARA, Ottawa can impose regulations on provincial land. Given B.C.’s approach so far, which seems more concerned about logging interests than the needs of caribou, the federal government may have to do just that.
October 1, 2015
Two wolves run on the beach, exploring the tidal zone for meals. (Photo: Paul Nicklen)
When we hear the word “wolf” nearly every one of us will think of wolves in a forest. Perhaps in our mind’s eye, we see a pack of wolves chasing down an elk or bison in Yellowstone, or monitoring a herd of caribou in Alaska, looking for the weakest link. But what we likely don’t think of is a wolf standing in an estuary stream catching salmon, or strolling along a beach poking through washed-up kelp for barnacles and other morsels to eat.
Yet that is exactly what happens among a very specific population of wolves living on the coastal islands of British Columbia. These wolves don’t hunt deer, in fact many may go their whole lives without ever seeing a deer. Instead, they rely on what the tide brings in. Fish roe, crustaceans, seals and washed-up whales are common meals for these wolves, which have been named sea wolves for their reliance on the ocean for food.
They are entirely unique and with behaviors that have scientists fascinated, but they are also heavily persecuted by humans. Between this and a future threatened by climate change, the outlook for these wolves is tenuous at best.
PHOTOS TO INSPIRE: 6 animals with strong family bonds
Photographers Paul Nicklen and Cristina Mittermeier recently went on assignment for National Geographic, spending weeks in the field crouched in a blind to photograph the intimate lives of these secretive wolves. We spoke with them about their experience, as well as what the average person can do to help preserve a highly unique and little-understood population.
Coastal rain wolves live on the outer Islands of the BC coast. Wolves on these Islands live on a very diverse selection of food including deer, chitons in the intertidal zone. (Photo: Paul Nicklen)
MNN: You spent weeks on the ground, waiting for sightings of a pack of wolves. What was it like the very first time you laid eyes on them?
CM and PN: We arrived on a remote island off the coast of British Columbia where we knew a couple of wolves had been sighted. We used our zodiac (small raft) to circumnavigate the island — a journey that took about 1.5 hours, until we sighted paw prints on the sand. The trick for us was to predict the patterns, trails and times the wolves were patrolling certain beaches, and to try to be there before them.
The first time we saw them it was a total fluke. We landed the zodiac on a beach and as Paul and Oren went up a stream to check things out, I stayed with the zodiac and was utterly surprised when one of the wolves came trotting out of the bushes. A small, slender female, she was completely calm and she just kept trotting my way until she was just 30 feet away.
At the same time, Paul and Oren rounded the corner of the stream and came into the open beach. Now the wolf was in between us. Instead of panicking, she just sat on her haunches, did a long, lazy stretch and then just went back the same way she had come from.
It was a comedy of errors, in which the wolf played its part and we, as photographers, fumbled and made mistakes and ended up with only mediocre pictures of a perfectly lovely encounter.
You had the unique opportunity to watch wild wolf pups hang out with their family. What was it like to witness the family structure of the wolves?
What we found was a pack of five pups being watched by a single adult female, presumably their mother. When pups are young, the entire pack helps take care of them. All the members bring food to the mother, who has to stay with the young pups. On this occasion, the pack must have been out hunting and when night fell and we had to leave, they still had not returned.
The next morning, when we returned to the beach, the pups were gone, so presumably the pack returned and they all moved on to another den site.
A mother and pups on the beach is a rare sight for anyone, and these photographers put in their dues to be able to witness it. (Photo: Cristina Mittermeier)
You two spent weeks in a tiny blind, waiting for opportunities to photograph the wolves. What do you do to stay, you know, sane?
Working in the blind gave me a whole new level of respect and admiration for photographers who specialize in wildlife. We spent a total of 28 days working from this blind, and it was hard.
The first few days were fun and busy as we selected the site and slowly and carefully set out to build the blind. One has to work slowly and early in the morning as not to disturb things. We laid a tarp on the ground to keep ourselves dry.
Unfortunately, the material crinkled and made noise every time we moved, so we had to remain really still. This meant stiff muscles and boredom. To pass the time we rnd a lot of time together. It teaches you a lot about a partner, when you have to be jammed in a small space and unable to move or talk for long periods of time. I have to say I enjoy Paul’s company very much.
Three wolf pups play with a piece of kelp. (Photo: Cristina Mittermeier)
Why these wolves? What sets them apart so much from other wolves as an extra concern for conservation?
The wolves of British Columbia are very different from any other wolves we have ever encountered. Unlike the gray wolves of the BC interior or the much larger timber wolves, rain wolves or sea wolves as they are known are small and dainty.
Unlike any other wolves, these ones don’t mind swimming between islands, sometimes for long distances but what truly sets them apart is the fact that over 70 percent of their diet is marine. They patrol the beach during low tide and eat mussels, clams and other marine life.
They are also very adept at hunting for salmon as the fish make their way up forest streams. Most impressively, they are able to hunt seals and sea lions.
These wolves are specialists in the meals that are available along a coastline. (Photo: Paul Nicklen)
Which is the most pressing concern to the future of these coastal island wolves?
Very little is known about them and preliminary DNA studies by scientist Chris Darimont from the University of Victoria indicate they might be a distinct race or even a subspecies.
For us, the real driver, however, is the fact that these fascinating animals are not protected by provincial or federal laws and people are not only allowed, but encouraged to kill them.
They are so curious and their habit of patrolling the beach exposes them to the danger of shooters who can spot them from boats.
The coastal island wolves are used to getting their feet wet for a meal. (Photo: Paul Nicklen)
What can the average reader do right this minute to help protect coastal wolves?
One of our partner organizations, Pacific Wild, a small NGO based in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest, is doing a lot of work to make authorities more aware of the ecological and indeed, the cultural importance of these animals.
The recent approval of a plan to slaughter 400 wolves in central BC makes it even more imperative to encourage the drafting of some laws that offer some protection.
Pacific Wild has gathered almost 200,000 signatures in a petition to the Premier of BC, Christy Clark to protect rain wolves. Supporting such a petition, opposing the wanton slaughter of wildlife, and educating themselves about the impacts of recreational hunting of apex predators is the best things people can do.
Find out more about Nicklen and Mittermeier’s conservation work at SeaLegacy, a nonprofit working to document the planet’s fragile marine ecosystems and inspire advocacy for their protection.
By: Jaymi Heimbuch
October 11, 2015 Source
Wolves are a common feature of Ahousaht life, and I am so lucky to encounter them regularly along our shoreline. They are a special creature to meet and I feel blessed every time I encounter one. This year there was a litter of 4 pups born to one of the females in the pack. While they have not been seen in the village, they were seen on the mudflats of Sunshine Bay in the early mornings. Perhaps next year I will see some pups.
From: The Dodo
Feb. 13, 2015 by Paul Watson
The government of British Columbia has a long history of wildlife mismanagement, because any form of human management is almost always mismanagement.
Humans are not Gods, although bureaucrats try hard to be Gods, deciding who is to live and who is to die. They tend to be good at the “who gets to die” part, and not so much with the “who gets to live” part.
The taxpayer-subsidized wolf slaughter in British Columbia is devoid of legitimate scientific research and cannot be justified on ecological or ethical grounds.
Killing wolves to protect caribou or elk does not benefit the caribou or the elk. The animals have survived precisely because of the value of nature’s prey-predThe problem is hunting, always has been. Unwanted predators are killed to “favor” animals whose death by hunting generates profit.
Hunting is simply big business, and most hunting today — even in the “wild” — is “canned hunting.”
Wolves kill the sick and the weak. Humans kill the strongest, biggest and best. Wolves strengthen the herds. Humans weaken the herds.
Back in 1984 I founded Friends of the Wolf, along with Farley Mowat, to challenge the insanity of the aerial wolf slaughter for the benefit of trophy hunters.
Today this travesty has returned, made even worse because the wolves being targeted first have been radio-collared by scientists who apparently believe the purpose of studying wolves is to make it more efficient to kill them.
The government of British Columbia is spending in excess of a half a million tax dollars to eradicate wolves in yet another example of governmental interference with the laws of nature — intervention that inevitably fails.
In 1984, I led a crew up the Kechika River to oppose the wolf slaughter. We brought this massacre to the attention of the world. We engaged the killers and forced the resignation of then Minister of the Environment Anthony Brummett. We also took the government to court for violating the Firearms Act, which makes it illegal to discharge a firearm from an aircraft.
Now we have to do it again, and one of my veteran Antarctic crewmembers, Tommy Knowles from British Columbia, has taken on the task of going into the areas where the wolves are targeted. These areas are the locations of the caribou herds that the government is trying to “protect” from the wolves. These areas have been identified as: Moberly (22 caribou), Scott herd (18), Kennedy Siding herd (23-25) and the Quinette herd (98-113).
The government wants to slaughter 184 wolves at a cost to the taxpayer of nearly $3,000 per wolf.
Tommy and his crew of volunteers are on the ground with the caribou, ready to risk their lives to intervene against any attempts to kill the wolves.
Once again, citizens have to organize to oppose the ecological insanity of their own governments.
Captain Paul Watson
Founder of Friends of the Wolf
From: Alberni Valley Times
Dec. 31, 2014 by EPlummer@avtimes.net
Roosevelt elk (Cervus canadensis roosevelti) near Jewell, Oregon, USA. (Public Domain.)
A Port Alberni resident’s trip into the wilderness last weekend was marked by a grisly discovery when a slaughtered elk was found south of Bamfield.
Bruce MacDonald ventured into the Klanawa Valley 80 kilometres south of Port Alberni with his son for a Sunday fishing trip when they found the abandoned female shortly after noon.
“It looks like it was shot and left on the road,” he said. “They cut just the two front legs off and a little bit of the back and left it laying there.”
The carcass appeared freshly killed over the previous 24 hours, said MacDonald, who documented the discovery with photographs. Except for some crows lingering nearby scavengers had yet to consume the dead elk.
“I just took the pictures and then carried on and went fishing but I was pretty upset,” Mac-Donald said. “I was sick to my stomach when I saw it, both me and my son.”
The slaughtered elk was found in the traditional territory of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, and MacDonald’s discovery came just over a year after the First Nations’ government offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of eight other elk poached in late 2013. Those illegal killings also occurred south of Port Alberni, including one carcass found near the Klanawa River.
After the Nuu-chah-nulth announced the reward other organizations put up funds to assist in the search for the poachers, including a $5,000 pledge from B.C. Coastal Outfitters, $2,000 offered by the B.C. Wildlife Federation and a $1,000 reward from Pearson Kal Tire. No arrests related to the poaching have been announced.
Elk poaching is especially concerning considering the decline of herds south of the Alberni Inlet, according to the B.C. Conservation Officer Service.
David Karn, who spoke on behalf of the conservation service, said the recent slaughtered elk is currently being investigated. It’s yet to be determined if an illegal kill occurred, he said, as limited elk hunting is permitted in some parts of the Island.
“The protection of the Roosevelt elk is of primary concern, but part of the investigation would be to determine if it was an authorized hunter or not – whether that was limited entry or treaty or aboriginal right to hunt,” said Karn. To help control the decline of elk populations on Vancouver Island, witnesses to suspicious incidents concerning wildlife are encouraged to immediately notify authorities at the Report All Poachers and Polluters hotline of 1-877-952-7277.
“It’s happened way too much on this Island in the last few years,” MacDonald remarked. “I don’t know how many of them are left, it’s pretty sad.”
Stop the Use of Killing Neck Snares against Wolves in British Columbia
We, the undersigned, call on the the Government of British Columbia to:
1. Immediately cease using neck snares to kill wolves, other carnivores and a host of non-target species on public land in British Columbia.
2. Shift wildlife management priority on public lands away from the protection and welfare of privately owned domestic species to a wildlife management model where on public land priority is given to developing, maintaining, and protecting ecologically functional populations of naturally-occurring species of wildlife, including apex predators.