Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Winter Wishes for Wolves

From Sadie Parr, Canadian Wolf Coalition

Seasons' Greetings to ALL and peace to our landscape!

The holiday season is often a time when families get together to enjoy a good meal and kinship. This is what wolves want too. 
British Columbia's wolf management regulations may be near a tipping point.  Thanks to the combined efforts of conservation groups and animal rights organizations and YOU  approximately 2,500 comments were submitted in just over 2 weeks regarding the recently proposed wolf kill plan for BC. 
The push for change has NOT ENDED. Many comments have been disregarded as unacceptable so we must continue to demand change. Your voice is needed now more than ever.  Please give the free gift of peace to just beings such as wolves by using your voice to speak against current wolf hunting contests and regulations....  The minister responsible for management decisions is Honourable Steve Thompson; FLNR.minister@gov.bc.ca.  Will he be spending HIS Christmas with his family?  Many wolves surely hope to. 
Please visit the links below to learn about the responses received and the legal direction Pacific Wild (www.pacificwild.org) is taking to force barbaric hunting contests to end.  Public support is required to ensure changes are made NOW!
Attached please find a summary I just put together after reviewing the newest BC Hunting Regulation Synopsis Guide.  You will learn about the current genocide and whom to contact to demand changes.  There is a new website accepting public comments and the Minister of FLNR Steve Thompson should also be contacted; FLNR.minister@gov.bc.ca.  The Minister's message at the beginning of the guide explains his position:
"Encouraging more people to take up hunting will generate even more jobs.  The province is committed to achieving its goal of 100,000 annual license sales by 2014/15. This goal is in reach, with 96,292 licenses sold in 2011.
 Pg. 15 of the guide readssome upcoming changes to the hunting licencing program will make it easier and more affordable to start hunting in BC.”
Meanwhile, public polls across the province continue to show that the majority of the public are not in support of trophy hunting.  Learn more by visiting these stories and please share this information and encourage YOUR family to take a stand for those who cannot speak for themselves.
Vancouver Sun:

Legal opinion says provincial gambling officials erred in okaying wolf-kill contest - over 2500 people respond to Wolf Management Plan

www.vancouversun.com/Legal+opinion+says+provincial+gambling+officials+erred+OKing+wolf+kill+contest/7709564/story.html <http://www.vancouversun.com/Legal+opinion+says+provincial+gambling+officials+erred+OKing+wolf+kill+contest/7709564/story.html>

BC wolf kill contest is illegal, conservationist charges
CTV News:
Pacific Wild claims the provincial government is breaking the law by allowing a wolf-kill contest in which prizes are offered ...

Also attached is a very relevant draft management plan for humans from the Raincoast Conservation Foundation www.raincoast.org
Finally, visit www.vws.org to learn about what Valhalla Wilderness Sociey is doing to secure habitat for caribou, wolves, and many other species that rely on large tracts of intact land through their Caribou Park Proposal.
Decision makers to include when submitting your comments : (please cc sadieparrwolfpact@gmail.com)
Premier Christy Clark
Parliament Buildings
Victoria, BC V8V 1X4
Phone: 250-387-1715
Fax: 250 387-0087

Hon. Steve Thomson
Min. of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources
Room 248
Parliament Bldgs
Victoria, BC V8V 1X4
NDP Environment Critic:
Rob Fleming, MLA
Room 201/Parliament Bldgs / Victoria, BC V8V 1X4
Fax: 250-387-4680
Most sincerely, Sadie Parr

"Is the world still wild enough for wolves?  A creature is not a wild creature unless it is being polished by unfenced landscapes, abundant prey, and the freedom to pursue it.  We have added roads and radio collars and exotic animals to the forces of evolution.  Have we so carved the world into geometric shapes of  possession, liability, privacy and commercial haste that it cannot abide wolves?"

-Peter Steinhart from his book The Company of Wolves.
Sadie Parr
21-514 Anderson Rd
Golden, BC  V0A 1H1

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Ask President Obama to protect seals by banning the import of Canadian seafood

We petition the Obama administration to ban seafood imports from nations, likeCanada, whose policies are inconsistent with the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

The United States imports seafood from countries, like Canada, that slaughter marine mammals, in particular seals, ostensibly to protect or aid in the recovery of commercial fish stocks. In Canada the seals mostly affected are harp and grey seals. There is no credible scientific justification for the culls. Such culls of marine mammals are, generally, illegal under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The US should not import products derived by means that offend US animal and environmental protection  laws. Consequently, the US should ban the importation of seafood products from countries like Canada until such times as their marine mammal protection policies are equivalent to or superior to those in the US. 

Please click on the following link to sign the petition: http://wh.gov/XCEk.  It takes only a moment.

If this petition gets 25,000 signatures by December 14, 2012,  the White House will review it and respond.

"We the People" allows anyone to create and sign petitions asking the Obama Administration to take action on a range of issues.  If a petition gets  enough support, the Obama Administration will issue an official response.The White House Emblem

Monday, November 12, 2012


Dear Friends,

On October 16th, I delivered a speech in the Senate on the need to end the commercial seal hunt in Canada as part of the ongoing debate on my Bill S-210.  We worked hard to put forth the rational, factual arguments in favour of moving those involved in this industry into better economic opportunities. 

However, the Conservative response on S-210 reveals the sorry state of leadership on this file.  Misleading claims that sealers make 35% of their annual income from the seal hunt (meaning that east coast fishers who made an average $1000 in recent hunts would be bringing home a grand total of $3,000 per year) and a continued failure to acknowledge that the market for seal products is gone and not coming back, symbolize the Conservatives’ stubborn refusal to accept and work with the facts facing the commercial sealing industry.

The Conservatives’ continued attacks on Canadians who are opposed to the hunt, and on animal welfare groups in particular, shows how out of touch the government is and how desperately it is trying to hide its own lack of long-term management plans for the seals and the larger fishery. The government is not listening to Canadians, it is not helping sealers and it is not helping our northern and aboriginal sealers who need their support.  Canadians deserve better.

Please keep up the great work letting Senators know that you support our efforts to end the commercial seal hunt and to move those affected into profitable, viable economic opportunities.


Chers amis,

Le 16 octobre, au cours du débat sur mon projet de loi S-210, j’ai prononcé un discours au Sénat sur la nécessité de mettre fin à la chasse commerciale du phoque au Canada. Nous avons déployé beaucoup d’efforts pour faire valoir les arguments rationnels et factuels justifiant d’offrir de meilleures possibilités économiques aux personnes travaillant dans cette industrie. 

La réaction des conservateurs à l’égard du projet de loi S-210 révèle toutefois l’état lamentable du leadership dans ce dossier. Les allégations trompeuses selon lesquelles les chasseurs de phoque tirent 35 % de leur revenu annuel de la chasse au phoque (ce qui signifie que les pêcheurs de la côte Est qui ont gagné en moyenne 1 000 $ lors de récentes chasses n’auraient qu’un revenu total de 3 000 $ par année) et le fait de continuer à ne pas reconnaître que le marché pour les produits du phoque n’existe plus et ne reviendra jamais reflètent le refus obstiné des conservateurs d’accepter la situation à laquelle est confrontée l’industrie de la chasse commerciale du phoque et de prendre des mesures à cet égard.

Les attaques incessantes des conservateurs contre les Canadiens qui s’opposent à la chasse et plus particulièrement contre les groupes de protection des animaux montrent à quel point le gouvernement est coupé de la réalité et tente désespérément de camoufler le fait qu’il n’a pas de plans de gestion à long terme des phoques et des pêches en général. Le gouvernement n’est pas à l’écoute des Canadiens, il n’aide pas les chasseurs de phoque, notamment les chasseurs de phoque autochtones et du Nord qui ont besoin de son appui. Les Canadiens méritent mieux.

Je vous prie de continuer à informer les sénateurs que vous soutenez nos efforts pour mettre fin à la chasse commerciale du phoque et offrir aux personnes touchées des possibilités économiques viables et rentables. 

Recevez, chers amis, mes salutations les meilleures.

Le sénateur Mac Harb

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Participatory democracy? Not welcome in London, Ontario.

Why do I bother trying to save the world

by Barry Kent MacKay

After a three hour drive, and a long meeting with two knowledgeable animal protectionists and an accurate and precise lawyer and a wonderful dinner provided by a colleague, I spent several hours in an “overflow” room in London, Ontario’s City Hall.   TV monitors relayed an ongoing series of deputations by property owners, their agents, lawyers and senior company executives, all fighting to maximise profits from the planned “development” of a large swath of nearby land.   It was a massive topic.

Let’s back up a few weeks.   That’s when I took a walk with concerned citizens and media along what is locally called “Stanton Drain”, or more accurately “Stanton Creek”, in what has been, since 1993, part of the city of London, Ontario.  It was my second visit, and we viewed the two beaver dams in the arrow-straight creek which, old maps showed, had once been a naturally meandering creek.  At some point heavy equipment had straightened it out, and wire baskets of stones had lined at least parts of it, to facilitate draining adjoining flatlands for agricultural purposes.   Nature has asserted itself, and the creek now hosts two beaver dams, a lush growth of vegetation and an accompanying diverse population of various native wildlife species.

The city decided to kill the beavers, remove the dams, and ream out the waterway to better drain water from surrounding lands, all now slotted for multi-million dollar urban sprawl.  There were profits to be made and the damn beaver dams were in the way.   It happens all the time.

During my walks each time I identified some species of wildlife I was asked if it was “endangered”.  But by their nature, individual animals that are of endangered species are normally not encountered because there are so few of them.    Finding an endangered species is pretty well the only way protection of the habitat might be afforded and then usually not without a battle that environmentalists may not win. Failing to protect the habitat of species officially recognized in law as being threatened with endangerment will ultimately lead to extinction or extirpation (local extinction).

Hold that thought and let me return the night of October 15.   We were told we could speak to the city council committee at 9:30 p.m., but by midnight we were still waiting.  Finally, around 1:00 a.m., a tired and depleted committee deemed it our turn to speak.  First up was AnnaMaria Valastro, the indefatigable head of Peaceful Parks Coalition, who had invited me to view the Stanton Creek, and now asked me to depute.  I had driven from Toronto with Liz White, Animal Alliance Environment Voters of Canada, with whom I had co-signed a letter to the committee, outlining our concerns.  AnnaMaria had done what we’re told citizens should do; she had gotten involved, and diligently educated herself on the complex issues pertaining to what the city’s legal obligations were under a complex network of confusing legislation.   She began by explaining the results of our meeting with the lawyer, a meeting that had led to serious questions about which of two Operational Plans apply, and other issues too multifaceted to get into here.

But wait.  The Mayor tried to shut everything down on the grounds that AnnaMaria was threatening to sue, and asked if that was her intent?  It’s an absurd question.  AnnaMaria was engaged as a citizen, seeking to assure herself that the city had followed all legal procedures by getting answers to specific questions.  The courts are a last resort, but the law does exist to serve the citizenry and if politicians don’t want to engage in co-operative dialogue, concerned citizens are left with diminishing choices.  The mayor should know that, assuming he believes in participatory democracy.   The alternative to the citizen involvement he seemed to detest is either confrontation or the courts.

It’s hard enough trying to make points and elicit information in the five minutes allocated each speaker, all the more difficult at such an absurdly late hour but that wasn’t enough for the mayor, who, as AnnaMaria was speaking, turned to talk to a fellow political.   When AnnaMaria justifiably asked for his attention he said he could speak and listen at the same time.  Actually, he can’t.  It’s a well proven physiological impossibility to speak while hearing and fully or even reasonably comprehending another person’s comments, or to comprehend two speakers simultaneously. I don’t imagine the mayor cares.   I’m grateful I don’t live in his community.

I spoke last and knew that my task was impossible.  There was simply no way I could encapsulate decades of hard won knowledge into a five minute time slot in a way that could be understood by exhausted politicians and a clearly hostile mayor.   I can’t do it in normally-sized blog, either, so this one is long.

I tried, by pointing to the incontrovertible fact that we were in the most severe extinction spasm in some 65 million years, and that by losing such massive biodiversity we are also compromising the environment’s ability to sustain us, and our commerce.   If the laws allow this, they aren’t working in the interest of the environment, thus not in all our interest, either. There are books written and university courses taught to help one understand why this is so, but nothing can explain it in a few minutes.   I ended up resorting to my own experiences, explaining how, in the 1970s, I took part in biological surveys in rural lands east of Toronto, and how the species of birds we saw then, in large numbers, are now absent….not fewer, but altogether absent.   But these people wouldn’t know or care what a vesper sparrow was, or if there were no more bobolinks.   I explained I had held an amphibian that was the end product of three billion years of evolution and is now extinct.

Yawn.   The clock ticked off my five worthless minutes and then it was decided that by gosh, the city’s legal department was right, everything was super-duper legalwise, and okay, the beaver would be live-trapped and moved somewhere or something, and then the wetland could be destroyed as planned so let’s all go home.

I made the point that for ecological reasons it would take a few paragraphs…time not available…to explain it is much harder to exterminate species in Ontario than in many parts of the world, and yet we’re doing it!   Another speaker mentioned turtles.   Let’s think about turtles, since they are aquatic by nature and because the Stanton Creek and adjoining ponds are potential turtle habitats.   There are only seven species in Ontario.  Just seven.  And of those seven, only one, the painted turtle, is reasonably abundant.  The speaker had seem them in the creek, and the snapping turtle, a species common in my youth, but now officially listed as a Species of Special Concern under the provincial Endangered Species Act.  But the problem is that the question is not what has been seen in the creek, but what will forever be prevented from using that creek to assure a viable population.  That conceivably could include the beautiful little spotted turtle.  I saw them as a child but they are now endangered, although Stanton Creek is within its range.   The northern map turtle is also a Species of Special Concern and the creek is within its range.  That category refers to a species with characteristics that make it vulnerable to changes created by human or natural activity. The Blanding’s turtle is unlikely to occur there, although it could, and is listed as threatened.  The attractive wood turtle is endangered, close to extinction, and yet there may still be some in the southeast corner of Lake Huron, an hour’s drive from Stanton Creek.  The spiny soft-shelled turtle is a species at risk, meaning it is at risk of becoming endangered in Ontario if limiting factors are not reversed?   Limiting factors?   I’d list the Mayor of London as one such.

Ah, but who cares?   What does this mayor, these politicians, care about such things?  And yet…

While the city officials claimed they had cleared everything with the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR), some of the speakers pointed out that they had been unable to find anyone at the MNR who could remember such a meeting.   And a day later I saw a letter, written a year earlier, by the MNR that said what, in a more legalistic way, what I and others were trying to say, that the absence of protected rare species (of turtles, for example) does not mean that the city’s plans “will have no negative impacts on the natural heritage features and areas”.  In other words, as AnnaMaria tried to point out, it’s more complicated than the city claims; there are questions to be answered.

I don’t believe the Mayor or many others on council actually give a damn. If they did, how could they dare ask if we will exercise our legal, democratic rights to protect what we know is important, even if they don’t seem to.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Memo to Paul Ryan: Do not call yourself pro-life.

We Canadians are a notoriously polite lot, and being polite, we ought not to comment on the politics of another country.   It’s bad form.  But I don’t care.   I have heard Paul Ryan, the U.S. Republican Party’s candidate for Vice President referred to as “pro-life” just once too often to keep my mouth shut.

Whatever else you think of his politics (and I think they’re idiotic, but I’ll keep that to myself) this man is not pro-life.   I get that he wants the state to control abortion but don’t call him pro-life.

I read that Chicago just experienced its 400th homicide of the year…it will be more by now, I’m sure.  Toronto has yet to reach 30.   It’s guns that make up the difference, that snuff out so many human lives, innocent or otherwise, and yet Ryan is determinedly pro-gun.  Yep…he has the National Rifle Association’s undivided support against those bleeding hearts who dare to suggest any restriction on “the right to bear arms”.  And yeah, they’ll say Chicago has gun regulations, but that’s like putting ink only on one half of a bowl of water and expecting the other half to stay clear.   The country’s awash with guns, and a hell of a lot of lives are lost; graves filled with people who should, as  you read this, be feeling the sun on their skin, their grandkids on their knees, or be smelling the cool smell of autumn in their nostrils, loving their companion animals but are forever dead in the interest of the “right to bear arms”.

So what does this numbskull do?  He buys his ten year old daughter her very first rifle.  Never mind that at age ten  your cognitive abilities are far from well-formed and decisions are not always wise, she has to be inculcated into the fellowship of shooters, because her daddy likes to kill things.  He is a life-destroyer.  There is nothing remotely pro-life about him.

I’ve known many a non-human animal in my time, shared my home with some, observed many more in forests, seas, jungles, deserts and other such habitats around the world, and guess what?   They are alive.  They cherish their lives, they feel pain.   They don’t want their lives ended, least of all for fun.

This killer sometimes favours bows and arrows over guns, and since he has long dipped deeply into the tax-filled public trough, never making anything of use but always positioning himself to direct others in their endeavours, the proceeds of which by way of taxes pay for his private arsenal, this right wing loony does not need to fire arrows into deer to save on the price of meat!   Research by various agencies shows that about thirty percent of deer struck by arrows don’t just drop dead…they are the walking wounded, suffering so people like Paul can enjoy their “sport”.

And one aspect of such “sport” many of us have only recently learned about is “noodling”.  Flathead catfish lay their eggs in holes in the banks of rivers or ponds or pond bottoms, and the male will defend those eggs against any perceived threat, including a closed fist!  Noodlers take advantage of this defensive behaviour.   “You get your hand inside the fish, and they kind of, they come up on your hand,” Ryan explained to the press.  “Then you just squeeze wherever you are on that fish and pull it out.   I know it sounds crazy, but it’s really exhilarating.”

Right.   Hurting and killing fish guarding their eggs is not how I’d seek exhilaration, and shows no trace of respect for life.

Okay, so by “life” he somehow excludes the 99.999 percent of life that happens not to be human.  One has no choice in what species one is, any more than one has a choice in what colour of skin one has, but no matter…if you were stupid enough not to be born human, your life is no longer of concern, and “pro-life” becomes code for “pro human-life only”.

So for those of our American neighbours who will vote for you, they deserve what they get – someone who likes weapons that kill both human and non-human animals, someone who likes to play cruel games with animals – and someone who is definitely not a “pro-life”.  The only good thing about those people who will vote for you.  They are a tiny minority and given the breadth of your hypocrisy, it is likely to stay that way for a long time.

Barry Kent MacKay
General Manager
Animal Alliance / Environment Voters Party of Canada

Friday, October 5, 2012

Please Protect the Rouge - all of the 100km2 of the public land assembly

October 3, 2012
Dear Prime Minister, Ministers, MPs and Parks Canada:
We are writing to thank you for your vision in establishing the Rouge National Park. 
Parks Canada’s spokesperson, Catherine Grenier highlighted the importance of the park “as a gateway to connect the entire network of wilderness, marine and historic attractions.”
This letter includes our comments on the draft Rouge National Park Concept released by the federal government and Parks Canada in May 2012 and on general issues regarding the future of the park. 
We ask that the Park Concept adopt the long-established Rouge Park vision which states that "The Rouge Park will be a special place of outstanding natural features and diverse cultural heritage in an urban-rural setting, protected and flourishing as an ecosystem in perpetuity.  Human activities will exist in harmony with the natural values of the park. The park will be a sanctuary for nature and the human spirit.  ...  The primary focus of the vision centres on the protection and appreciation of the park ecosystem. "  
Therefore, in keeping with the vision statement, we seek the inclusion of all of the 100 km2 public land assembly surrounding the Rouge River watershed as part of Rouge National Park.  This will build on and re-enforce the provincial Greenbelt Plan initiative because the majority of these lands are also designated as a natural heritage system.
Establishing the Rouge National Park would allow for "the protection and restoration of Carolinian and mixed woodland habitats in a sustainable natural heritage system linking Lake Ontario to the Oak Ridges Moraine".  In addition, it would provide protection for the animal species who reside there, recognizing them as an integral part of a healthy Carolinian ecosystem.  
There has already been a significant investment of public resources and community involvement that has led to the creation of the existing Rouge Park plans including the 1994 Rouge Park Management Plan, the Provincial Greenbelt Plan, Rouge Watershed Strategy, Rouge Natural Heritage Action Plan and the TRCA's Targeted Natural Heritage System.
Any legislative or regulatory changes, or modifications to management plans for Rouge National Park should strengthen the vision, goal and objectives as set out in the above reports and facilitate the implementation of those plans.
Incorporating all 100 km2 as part of the park is critical to meet federal and provincial scientific minimums of 30% forest cover and 10% wetland cover needed to protect watershed health and native species diversity.  At the present time, only 13 percent forest cover and 2 percent wetland cover of the Rouge Watershed does not come close to meeting the science based ecosystem targets.
In order to achieve this, we ask that you provide Parks Canada and Environment Canada with the necessary tools to restore forests and wetlands on the public lands within and beyond the Rouge Park to meet and exceed the scientific minimums for forest and wetland cover and to protect and restore the water quality and aquatic health of the rivers that flow through the park. 
We are concerned because at the present time approximately 70% of the public Rouge Park lands in Markham are in fact leased for industrial cash-crop farming of primarily corn and soy beans. 
This industrial type farming uses pesticides, chemicals and genetically modified crops which are inconsistent with the values of a wilderness urban park and may very well compromise the very wildlife the Park is meant to protect. 
In addition, large cash-crop farms distort wild populations because of food attractants and result in increased human/wildlife conflicts.   Alternatively, smaller farms which utilize a diversity of crops, modern organic methods, wildlife corridors and peaceful coexistence with wildlife would fit more naturally into a urban wilderness park.  These farms produce a variety of healthy local food, jobs and revenues for the local economy. 
We urge you to ensure that Parks Canada take this unique opportunity and create a spectacular Rouge National Park including the entire 100 km2 land base. Thank you in advance for your support and we look forward to hearing from you.
Barry MacKay
Canadian Representative
Born Free USA

Liz White
Animal Alliance/Environment Voters

Lia Laskaris
Animal Alliance of Canada


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Important Action Alert from the CHDC on Horse Traceability

Today, the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition (CHDC) released a significant report on Canada’s horse traceability program, Pro-Slaughter Group Attempts to Cash In on Horse Traceability Program While Canada Falters on its Deadline.

This paper addresses the outcome of Equine Canada’s CanEQUID traceability program and its apparent demise.  Also, it addresses the desire of Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada (HWAC), the paradoxical pro-slaughter “horse welfare” group, to implement their solution for an equine traceability program.

HWAC has recently put out a Call to Action where founder Bill desBarres describes their Equine Traceability Canada program and asks Canadian horse organizations and stakeholders:  “Do you and your constituents support HWAC, as a non-partisan national organization, to facilitate Canadian equine identification and traceability (the ETC project) through proven, internationally accepted and secure technology?” Recipients are to respond by October 3, 2012 since “decisions must be made and action taken”.

The CHDC has answered today with this response:  “The Canadian Horse Defence Coalition does not recognize HWAC as a non-partisan national organization since it has a vested interest in maintaining and growing Canada's horse slaughter industry.  We also do not support HWAC in its attempts to facilitate a Canadian equine traceability project through ETC, Animal ID Solutions, or any other means.”

After reading our report and understanding the implications of supporting this program, we are asking CHDC supporters and all concerned people to respond to HWAC’s question, by responding to info@horsewelfare.ca, if not by October 3rd, then at your earliest convenience.

We also ask you to notify Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) at info@agr.gc.ca.

Thank you, and we’d like to hear from supporters and see the responses they receive.

For the horses,
Canadian Horse Defence Coalition

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The True Faces of Horse Slaughter

Inside Alberta’s Horse Feedlots

In Canada’s vast Prairie provinces lie hundreds of feedlots, many of which hold thousands of horses destined for slaughter.

Whether they are cast-off PMU mares and foals, former Mennonite/Amish work horses, breeders’ excess stock, former rodeo horses or from horse dealers through rural auctions, many languish in Alberta feedlots in close proximity to Bouvry Exports, Canada’s largest horse slaughter plant.

This CHDC report exposes the common conditions inside these factory farm lots for horses.

They are the True Faces of Horse Slaughter in Canada.

The report can be viewed here:

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

How I will vote in 2015

Dear Prime Minister Harper,

I am counting the days until 19 October, 2015. I believe that millions of other Canadian are too. That’s the date for which the next federal election is scheduled, and I want you to know that I will vote in the hope that your government is defeated.

Please read on, because my message to you goes beyond the usual “I will not vote for your party.” In 2015 I will do more than not vote for your party. The 2015 election will be different.

Here’s the difference. I will not vote for your party, and I will do my utmost to persuade as many of my relatives, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances not to vote for your party either. For me, this kind of involvement in an election campaign will be a first. I feel the next election is that crucial for the future of Canada.

I live in the riding currently represented by the Honourable Jim Flaherty, whose repeated majority of votes will make my protest vote almost meaningless. Therefore, I will take my message to family, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances in other ridings where NDP and Liberal candidates lead. I feel the next election is that crucial.

I will not vote for your party – and will stress this to my family and friends – because in gutting environmental regulations, muzzling scientists who state facts about climate change, and persecuting environmental organizations you will leave an impoverished, polluted country for generations of Canadians to come.

I will not vote for your government – and will stress this to my family and friends – because of your contempt for democracy in shutting down Parliament twice, curtailing debate in the House of Commons often, harassing official watchdogs of the common good, and brushing aside evidence of widespread voter fraud by your party.

I will not vote for your party – and will stress this to my family and friends – because of your government’s incompetence and mismanagement in the F-35 procurement debacle, including willfully misleading Parliament about the prohibitive costs, and its unfeeling neglect of needy Canadian veterans even as your party’s spokespeople wrap themselves in flags.

I will be persistent, because I feel the next election is that crucial.

I hope you will reverse your war on the environment, and return to democratic processes, but I fear there is little hope of that.

Canadians are watching, sir. I hope that millions of them, like me, are counting the days until October 2015.

Barbara Kyle
Whitby, ON

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

In today's Ottawa Citizen

Something’s fishy with Bill C-38

By Terry Glavin May 7, 2012

Bill C-38, also called the Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act, is a heck of a thing. It’s an omnibus bill that purports to be a budget bill but isn’t. It’s a statutory juggernaut that introduces, amends, or repeals nearly 70 federal laws. It’s been presented to the House of Commons in a manner that may be without close precedent in Canadian parliamentary history.

It could be a whole lot of things, depending on who’s doing the shouting, but the things that Industry Minister Joe Oliver and Environment Minister Peter Kent and Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield have had to say about its purposes just don’t add up.

We’re supposed to believe that the elaborate and contradictory environmental-review “streamlining” components that make up much of C-38’s heft are necessary to the defence of ordinary job-wanting Canadians beset by those scheming, obstructionist, radical environmentalist ideologues who won’t be satisfied until Canada’s vast energy wealth is locked away in the ground and we’re all living in yurts.

If you want to see how easily that fable falls apart, ask yourself this one question. What influence has Canada’s all-powerful environmental movement really managed to exert upon the pace, the scope or the scale of Alberta’s oilsands development? The correct answer: pretty well none. So much for the boogeyman Joe Oliver is always banging on about.

Here’s another question. Is it really true that the habitat-protection provisions of the Fisheries Act are being jimmied so weirdly just so that Ontario cottagers can build their boat docks and Saskatchewan farmers can work around their bothersome duck ponds? That’s the spin on offer from Ashfield, the fisheries minister. He should give us a break.

To be fair, duplication and rigmarole do seem to have cluttered up federal environmental-assessment processes. Some housecleaning was evidently in order. But seriously, an objective reading of Bill C-38 could lead any reasonable person to suspect that Prime Minister Stephen Harper wants Canada to distinguish itself among advanced United Nations member states by abdicating the necessary government function of environmental assessment altogether.

There is already more than sufficient discretion available to cabinet ministers to waive or blunt the environmental protection provisions of all the laws drawn into C-38’s orbit, not least the bits that bother farmers and cottagers.

In 2004, long before he went on to become the greenest of Liberal party leaders, Stéphane Dion was the bold environment minister who exercised his discretion under the Species at Risk Act to write off an entire west coast sockeye salmon run. The Cultus Lake sockeye had dwindled from more than 80,000 spawning salmon to about 1,000 by the time the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) proposed that the Cultus run be listed under the law. Dion just said no.

There was no need for great chunks of legislation to be retrofitted into a 420-page omnibus budget bill that looks to have been intended to confound every effort by the House of Commons to scrutinize its contents intelligently. Dion just said no, because that’s what the legislation allows.

Ashfield says the changes he wants are necessary to limit the reach of the habitat protection rules to stocks that support commercial, recreational or aboriginal fisheries. That would whittle down the list of fish stocks covered by the Fisheries Act by an order of magnitude, right there. But as things stand, the rules “do not reflect the priorities of Canadians,” Ashfield says.

Whatever priorities allegedly prevail in Saskatchewan or Ontario, federal fish-habitat law is serious politics in British Columbia. An April 2011 Angus Reid poll found that 89 per cent of British Columbians wanted salmon habitat laws more strictly enforced, not less so, and 86 per cent said economic development should not come at the expense of salmon habitat.

Seven in 10 respondents agreed with this statement: “Wild salmon are as culturally important to the people of British Columbia as the French language is to the people of Quebec.”

It isn’t just Ashfield’s fishery-supporting stocks that British Columbians want protected, either. The “beauty of the region,” environmental health and tourism were ranked higher than the value of commercial fishing as reasons to protect salmon.

None of this shows up on Ashfield’s finely-tuned sense of “the priorities of Canadians” to which those mean environmentalists are so stubbornly opposed. As for the minister’s strange unease with the idea that fish might be finding their way into the nation’s ditches and irrigation canals, he should get some biologist he hasn’t laid off yet to give him a rough guess on how many of the hundreds of British Columbia’s distinct stocks of coho, chinook and chum salmon rely on ditches and drainage canals for spawning and rearing.

Perhaps one of his remaining habitat scientists might explain that those ditches were once pristine spawning streams, but ministers like him were never all that keen about enforcing the habitat-protection provisions of the Fisheries Act anyway.

Ashfield might also have a chat with his Conservative predecessors Tom Siddon and John Fraser, two decent fisheries ministers who understood that fish and farmers and loggers and cottagers can actually coexist so long as there’s a robust federal fisheries department that isn’t run by some guy from back east who doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

Prime Minister Harper appears convinced that the barrage of Bill C-38’s contents will not be improved by the usual scrutiny from the relevant parliamentary committees. His confidence is said to be evidence of that nasty “right-wing agenda” we sometimes hear about. Whatever.

It sure is a dumb way to run a government.

Terry Glavin is an award-winning author and journalist. His most recent book is Come From the Shadows: The Long and Loney Struggle for Peace in Afghanistan.
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

Friday, April 20, 2012

Alberta's Sad History of Caribou "Management"

A chronology of events, courtesy of the Alberta Wilderness Society:

January 2012

Federal Environment Minister Kent makes a decision not to recommend emergency protection of critical habitat for threatened caribou herds in northeastern Alberta.

November 2011

Parks Canada releases a proposed Conservation Strategy for Southern Mountain Caribou in Canada's National Parks. AWA in commenting on the strategy is supportive of habitat-related measures: reducing human, deer and elk access into caribou ranges, thereby reducing wolf access. AWA will only support translocation, and limited use of cow-calf penning or predator management, if there is a clear priority placed on habitat-related actions.

August 2011

Government of Canada releases a years-overdue proposed boreal woodland caribou recovery strategy. "The long-term recovery goal for boreal caribou is to achieve self-sustaining local populations throughout their distribution in Canada to the extent possible". This is weaker than the 2007 federal recovery goal supported by AWA, which was: "Boreal caribou are conserved, and recovered to self-sustaining levels, throughout their current distribution (extent of occurrence) in Canada."

For herds at greatest risk of extinction because of habitat loss, including seven of Alberta's 12 herds, the strategy proposes that undisturbed critical habitat may decrease to a mere 5% as long as jurisdictions provide a plan to stabilize populations "through the use of mortality and habitat management tools." AWA immediately strongly criticizes this policy, stating "The war on wolves goes national."

For herds that are not self-sustaining but are important to maintain connectivity across Canada, which includes Alberta's remaining 5 herds, the strategy proposes that undisturbed habitat must increase over 50 years to provide 65% undisturbed habitat in the herd's total range. This 65% habitat target, if reached, will only provide a 60% chance a population will be self-sustaining.

Federal Environment Minister Kent is quoted in a Canadian Press article August 26, 2011 that the plan means killing wolves. "Predator control has been chosen," he said. "That bothers me a great deal. It certainly disturbs me that 100 wolves have to be killed to protect four caribou calves."

July 28, 2011

The federal court decision is announced in response to the court case undertaken by AWA, Pembina Institute and Alberta Ecojustice, seeking a court order to force the federal Environment Minister, Peter Kent, to recommend emergency protection of critical habitat for threatened caribou herds in northeastern Alberta. The Federal Court overturns the minister's decision not to recommend emergency protection for caribou.

"It is not immediately apparent how, given the foregoing facts, the Minister reasonably could have concluded that there are no imminent threats to the national recovery of boreal caribou," Justice Crampton writes in his decision.

July 2011

Major new science and policy briefing note issued by the International Boreal Conservation Science Panel: Keeping woodland caribou in the boreal forest: Big challenge, immense opportunity. The report is clear: "To conserve woodland caribou means dispensing with business as usual, which has demonstrably and repeatedly failed to meet caribou conservation needs."

The report emphasizes that recovery is achievable: "Although the challenge of conserving caribou may look daunting, science indicates that both caribou conservation and resource exploitation are possible-if society makes room for caribou in the boreal forest in its plans and desires for the future."

But the challenges are substantial, including:

* "The consequences of today's actions, or inaction, will reverberate for at least a half-century."

* "Caribou need old forests, typically more than 50 years old, and they range over large areas, often thousands of square kilometres. Managing the boreal forest must occur at commensurate scales in time and space. Planning must consider the long term, in accordance with the long-term consequences of present-day human activities in the boreal forest."

* "The viability of a caribou population declines in the midst of disturbances to habitat, whether natural or human-caused. Such disturbances need to be considered cumulatively. Current understanding suggests that disturbed areas must not encompass more than about one-third of a population's range if the population is to persist"

* "Ensuring a future for woodland caribou populations must include a margin for error, in recognition of many uncertainties and the need to keep management options open. Protected areas provide insurance against unfavourable outcomes as well as a template for evaluating the effectiveness of management prescriptions beyond protected areas' boundaries."

In an accompanying letter to the Alberta government, the panel writes: "Now more than ever, urgent action is required by the Alberta government to sustain caribou populations throughout the province. We appreciate that the Land Use Framework provides new tools for establishing new thresholds for development and opportunities for conservation. We therefore recommend that your government act now to protect key habitats and implement a comprehensive caribou protection plan to ensure that this iconic species is sustained for future generations."

June 2011

AWA, with Pembina Institute and Alberta Ecojustice, take the federal Environment Minister, Peter Kent, to court, seeking a court order to force the minister to recommend emergency protection of critical habitat for threatened caribou herds in northeastern Alberta. The groups point out that the Government of Alberta's reluctance to introduce any meaningful caribou
habitat protection through its recent Lower Athabasca Regional Plan makes immediate federal action even more critical.

"Alberta's chronic failure to protect its caribou means the federal government must step in with emergency protections before it's too late," says Cliff Wallis, AWA vice-president in a news release. "If they continue to ignore Alberta's reckless behaviour, the feds will be complicit in the
disappearance of these majestic animals from Alberta's forests."

A June 2011 report by Global Forest Watch Canada demonstrates clearly that the draft Regional Plan for the Lower Athabasca region will fail to protect caribou habitat. Under the draft Lower Athabasca Integrated Regional, a mere 4 percent of caribou habitat in the region would benefit from new protection. This would add to the meagre 3 percent already protected.


Alberta government admits that it will be ignoring the advice of its own scientists to downgrade caribou from threatened to endangered, despite clear evidence that caribou numbers continue to decline.

The government's Endangered Species Conservation Committee (ESCC) makes recommendations to the minister of Sustainable Resource Development on the status of Alberta wildlife. The ESCC is a 'stakeholder' committee, including representatives from the Alberta Forest Products Association, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and the Western Stockgrowers' Association. As a nonexpert committee, they often take scientific advice from their own Scientific Subcommittee. But when the Subcommittee recommends in December 2010 that the plight of woodland caribou was so dire that they should be downgraded from threatened to endangered, their advice is ignored.

The Alberta government refuses to publish the recommendations of the Scientific Subcommittee, and so the reason why the ESCC decided to ignore the advice of its own scientists is unclear. AWA initiates an application under Freedom of Information legislation to see the reports from the ESCC and its scientific subcommittee.


July 2010, the Alberta government publishes the 2010 update of the report, Status of the Woodland Caribou in Alberta. The language in the report makes it very clear that, after 23 years of Alberta's caribou "recovery" process, the picture remains dire for the species.

* "Of the 13 populations with sufficient monitoring data, 10 are demonstrating population decline. The 10 caribou populations documented to be in decline occupy 83% of the total area of current caribou range in Alberta, and constitute the majority of caribou occurring in the province."

* "Approximately 70% of all caribou in Alberta occur in populations that are known to be declining."

* "More provincial caribou populations are now in sustained population decline than was the case when the first edition of this status document was prepared in 2001."

* "Levels of habitat alteration from industrial developments are high on most caribou ranges in the province and projections forecast continued high levels of future industrial activity... Provincial land-use guidelines for industrial activities have not succeeded (as a sole tool) in providing for long-term caribou population and habitat conservation, and guidelines for caribou habitat protection currently are not being applied in all caribou ranges within the province."

One of Jasper National Park's three remaining populations, the Maligne Valley herd, crashes to just four members. The new Management Plan for Jasper National Park does not address this population, despite calls from AWA and other organizations to close the Maligne road to winter use which would offer some protection to the caribou herd.

August 2010

Ecojustice, on behalf of AWA, Pembina Institute and Sierra Club Prairie Chapter, petition federal Minister of the Environment, Jim Prentice, to adopt emergency measures under the federal Species at Risk Act to protect caribou herds in northeastern Alberta. Their letter calls for a halt to further industrial activity in caribou ranges until a recovery plan and habitat protection measures - mandated by species legislation - are in place.

The letter supports a demand made by local First Nations in July, when the Beaver Lake Cree Nation, Enoch Cree Nation, Chipewyan Prairie Dene First Nation and Athabascan Chipewyan First Nation demanded that the minister provide emergency protection for herds on their traditional lands.

February 2010

AWA and Alberta conservation groups called for an emergency order from the Federal Environment Minister to enforce habitat protection for the endangered woodland caribou herds in the foothills and tar sands.

December 2009

The draft management plan for Banff National Park recommends investigating reintroduction of caribou into the park.

November 2009

AWA and other provincial conservation groups distribute copies of a provincial government recovery plan for Alberta's endangered woodland caribou. The Action Plan for West-Central Alberta Caribou Recovery authorized ongoing logging and oil and gas development in the caribou home ranges north of Hinton and Grande Cache, despite more than two dozen Alberta
government and science reports, consultations and recovery plans for caribou released since the late 1970s that show industrial impacts on forests and wildlife as the root cause of caribou decline.

April 2009

The remaining four members of Banff's caribou herd are all killed in an avalanche. This becomes the first extirpation of a large mammal in a Canadian National Park in more than a century.

Also in April, an Environment Canada report, Scientific Review for the Identification of Critical Habitat for Woodland Caribou, Boreal Population in Canada, is published. The report concludes that half of Canada's boreal caribou herds are in decline and could die off unless their habitat is
better protected, and points to logging and energy production as big threats. The Conservative government takes the extraordinary step of distancing itself from the report.

While caribou habitat remains unprotected, another 120 wolves are killed in caribou range between April 2008 and March 2009. Increased numbers of hunting licences are also issued to try to reduce moose numbers in caribou habitat.

May 20, 2008

AWA, along with Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Federation of Alberta Naturalists, and the Athabasca Bioregional Society write to Dr. Marco Festa-Bianchet, co-chair of the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada's (COSEWIC) Species Specialist Subcommittee - Terrestrial Mammals requesting COSEWIC assess the status of the Little Smoky local
population of woodland caribou. In the letter, the groups submit that the Little Smoky herd is both particularly imperiled relative to the wider boreal population of woodland caribou and both geographically and genetically distinct from the boreal population.


The Alberta Forest Products Association (AFPA), an industry group, tells AWA that it no longer supports the recommendations of the Alberta Caribou Committee, of which it is a member. AWA calls for the removal of the AFPA from the ACC on the grounds that it is not acting in good faith. The AFPA had previously agreed not to clear-cut log in caribou habitat areas, even with the advent of a pine beetle outbreak.

February - The federal response to the woodland caribou question - that is, whether or not it must actively protect habitat - as delivered by the NAFTA Commission on Environmental Cooperation, is delayed pending the resolution of spotted owl proceedings. The federal government claims that the spotted owl ruling will affect the outcome of legal actions with respect to woodland caribou.


AWA releases another 9 public statements calling on government and industryto honour their commitments to caribou conservation.

The province implements a wolf-culling program without addressing long-term habitat protection issues. This action contradicts caribou management plans dating back 30 years and the opinions expressed by members of the Alberta Caribou Committee, AWA and the public. Applications for energy development, including improved roads, wells and pipelines, continue without resistance from government officials.

National environmental groups send a petition to the Commission on Environmental Cooperation claiming that the federal government has failed to protect critical habitat for endangered species with specific reference to woodland caribou in Alberta. The CEC is the environmental watchdog of NAFTA and was set in place to ensure that partner nations enforce their own environmental laws (i.e., to minimize trade advantages for countries in violation of domestic environmental laws). CEC rulings are non-binding but politically significant.

By the end of 2006, the provincial government has forced forest companies like Weyerhauser to log forests in critical caribou habitat in order to minimize impacts from recent mountain pine beetle (MPB) attacks. The goal of this strategy is the widespread conversion of older forests, which are susceptible to MPB attack, to plantations of younger trees. The provincial strategy to combat MPB is in direct contradiction to previously established caribou management agreements.


AWA makes more than 7 public announcements, along with other conservation organizations, calling on the government to adhere to its commitment to protect caribou habitat after recent research presented by University of Alberta biologists indicates that provincial land-use guidelines for caribou habitat are being violated by industry.

The province announces the creation of the Alberta Caribou Committee (ACC), which includes the Boreal Caribou Committee (1999), the West Central Caribou Committee (1992), the Provincial Caribou Recovery Team (2001) and other stakeholders. The province says it will further engage First Nations people (who are still exempt from the caribou hunting ban) in caribou management, promote industry best practices for operating on caribou lands, and implement a predator control program. The ACC is expected to produce a management plan by 2007. They announce that the provincial caribou population is 2500 to 4000 individuals.

The province releases the Alberta Woodland Caribou Recovery Plan, authored by 13 representatives of the forestry and petroleum industries, provincial and federal government, academia, and community groups. The plan's two recovery goals are to: 1) achieve self-sustaining woodland caribou herds and maintain the distribution of caribou in Alberta and 2) ensure that long-term habitat requirements are met within Alberta's caribou ranges. The Minister of Sustainable Resource Development, David Coutts, adopts the plan with the notable exception of "the recommendation in Section 7.2 relating to a moratorium on further mineral and timber allocations on specific caribou ranges." These "specific caribou ranges" refer to herds "at immediate risk of extirpation or extinction" and the recommendation itself states: "A
moratorium on further mineral and timber resource allocation (sales) should be put in place until a range plan is completed, evaluated, and implemented. It is anticipated that this process will take a maximum of one year from the date of range team formation."

CANFOR announces it will voluntarily defer logging on the Little Smoky Caribou Herd range, which covers one-sixth of their FMA, for two years starting in the winter of 2005/2006.

CANFOR and Suncor announce they will commence an integrated landscape management approach, with the overall goal to minimize their environmental footprints in northwestern Alberta. They also agree to start a "caribou habitat restoration/reforestation project."


Weyerhaeuser announces the cessation of logging activities in 82 000 hectares of forested area in west-central Alberta for the next 5 years based on research they supported. AWA and other environmental groups in the province issue a press release calling on the government to implement a comprehensive, multi-sector approach to caribou management.

Suncor/ConocoPhillips propose the construction of a 101-km-long sour gas pipeline through the home range of the Little Smoky and A La Peche herds. Development to begin in December 2004.


The Alberta Ministry of Sustainable Resource Development forms the Alberta Woodland Caribou Recovery Team.


The recommendations made in 1996 by the multi-stakeholder Woodland Caribou Conservation Strategy Development Committee formed in 1993 have yet to be implemented by senior officials in the provincial government. The provincial government publishes "Status of the Woodland Caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) in Alberta" which states: "On the whole, there have been reductions in some populations and the distribution of caribou in Alberta has contracted, but the number of Woodland Caribou currently in Alberta remains largely unknown."


The Committee on the Status of Endangered Species in Canada (COSEWIC) re-designates the status of caribou as Threatened.


Regional caribou management standing committees merge into the Boreal Caribou Committee. The committee comprises industry and provincial government officials only.


Caribou are downgraded to the provincial Blue List. Caribou are now defined as species that may be at risk and have undergone irregular declines in population, habitat, or reductions in provincial distribution. The provincial population is estimated to be 3600 to 6700 individuals.

The multi-stakeholder committee formed in 1993 releases Alberta's Woodland Caribou Conservation Strategy. The goal is "healthy populations in perpetuity throughout Alberta's caribou range". It recommends that "No significant new clearing of coniferous forests beyond existing commitments should be considered until caribou habitat supply analyses are completed." It is not implemented. The 1996 strategy mentions wolf culls only as a last resort.


COSEWIC redesignates the status of caribou to Vulnerable.


An Information Letter (IL 94-22) put out by the Energy Utilities Board, the regulatory arm of the oil and gas industry, states "It is anticipated that significant flexibility on the part of both the operator and AEP will be required to ensure that the plans are able to effectively meet the two goals of allowing energy development while adequately protecting woodland caribou...Industrial
activity can occur on caribou range provided that the integrity and supply of habitat is maintained to permit its use by caribou."


The Strategy for Conservation of Woodland Caribou in Alberta is drafted by Alberta's Fish and Wildlife Division. It specifically mentions the logging industry as the biggest threat to caribou survival in Alberta. "No approach has been demonstrated to be effective in maintaining caribou populations in association with timber harvest in the long term." The strategy recommendations were not adopted. A multi-stakeholder committee known as the Woodland Caribou Conservation Strategy Development Committee (WCCSDC) is formed to address caribou conservation and develop another strategy.


Regional standing committees comprising industry and government representatives are created to reduce land-use conflicts in caribou management areas. The wildlife sanctuary along Highway 40, first officially recommended in 1986, is designated.


Caribou are put on the provincial Red List of threatened species, defined as species that are at risk and have declined, or are in immediate danger of declining to a nonviable population size.

Alberta Energy releases "Operating Guidelines for Industrial Activity in Caribou Range" (IL 91-17; Alberta Energy).


In a letter to the Edmonton Journal (Feb 11), Assistant Deputy Minister of Alberta Forestry, Fish and Wildlife outlines Alberta's policy on wildlife management: "It is recognized that any restoration plan for these ungulate populations must address all the factors which are influencing their viability, including the provision of needed habitat, the control of access and the regulation of hunting."


Caribou are listed as an Endangered Species under Alberta's Wildlife Act. Another caribou management plan is drafted, the "Woodland Caribou Provincial Restoration Plan," with 5 main recommendations:

* control predators (70% reduction in wolf populations);

* conduct a proper population inventory;

* reduce human-caused mortality in caribou (due to poaching) by creating a wildlife sanctuary along Highway 40 and the Forestry Trunk Road;

* maintain and protect habitat;

* increase public awareness of caribou.

The Federation of Alberta Naturalists withdraws its support for the provincial Caribou Restoration Plan over government proposals to cull 70% of wolves near Jasper National Park.


Caribou are designated an Endangered Species by the Policy for the Management of Threatened Wildlife in Alberta, legislated under Alberta's Wildlife Act.


Calgary Herald reports that caribou poaching continues in areas near Grand Cache. COSEWIC recognizes the woodland caribou as a rare species. A provincial report suggests that the west-central Alberta caribou population has dropped to 300 individuals from a high of 1200 to 1800 in 1968. The report cites habitat loss, poaching and predation as the primary causes of the decline. The report also provides detailed timber harvesting and access guidelines for the management of caribou habitat areas.


Regional biologist and provincial caribou coordinator, Michael Bloomfield, resigns after his superiors in government continue to ignore recommendations for caribou protection as wolf culling programs are being discussed (Edmonton Journal, April 4, 1987).


Provincial biologists continue to push decision-makers to ban hunting and, later this same year, the second province-wide ban on caribou hunting commences. Provincial biologists propose that caribou be designated a Threatened Species. Michael Bloomfield, provincial biologist and caribou
management coordinator for Alberta, states that to protect caribou "all that is required is the resolve and inter-departmental commitment to solve the problem."


Provincial biologists suggest that the population of caribou has declined by at least 50% in the past 15 years. A Calgary Herald article reports that Fred McDougall, then Deputy Minister of Renewable Resources, says that "it would only be fair" if hunters were given a year warning on a possible hunting ban. This year was the second year in a row that AWA, along with the
25 000-member Alberta Fish and Game Association, has called on the government to ban caribou hunting.

A letter to AWA from J.E. Bud Miller, Associate Minister of Public Lands and Wildlife, states: "Our department shares your view that caribou need protection and we are quickly moving in that direction. I can assure you that caribou are now a high priority and will continue to receive our best efforts regardless of our management strategy."


Provincial population estimates are close to 3000, indicating a decline from the 1960s. A government biologist is quoted in the Calgary Herald suggesting that the decline of caribou is due to industrial activities. The Edson Leader quotes provincial biologist and caribou management coordinator Mike Bloomfield: "We have no other choice. Continued hunting and unrestricted development in caribou range could result in the disappearance of our resident populations."


Provincial biologists, in conjunction with AWA and other Alberta conservation groups, establish the "Caribou Management Outline for Alberta." Noteworthy recommendations from this work include the following:

* funds and resources must be allocated to ensure the protection of woodland caribou;

* wolf control must not be considered until a recovery program focusing on the cause of the caribou decline has been enacted;

* the government must no longer delay action that would reverse the long-term causes of caribou decline;

* a province-wide ban on hunting caribou must be initiated;

* a regional access management plan for industry and recreation must be created. In addition, 24 major land-use conflicts are identified but there is no mention of a more comprehensive stakeholder decision-making process. Forty-one caribou are harvested across the province this year.


Province-wide population is estimated at around 5000 individuals.


The population of caribou begins declining once again, with an estimated size of 600 to 700 animals in the Athabasca Forest Area (AFA; now known as the Willmore Wilderness Park). Oil and gas exploration activities increase substantially in backcountry areas. Backcountry road development facilitates hunting and poaching of caribou.


Approximately 100 animals are harvested (554 licensed hunters).

1966 - 1967

A railroad is built from Grand Cache to Hinton, bisecting the seasonal migration route of mountain caribou. According to a provincial status report from the late 1960s, growing
interest in caribou hunting from the public should be paralleled by an improved management plan on the part of the Fish and Wildlife Division. Industrial development booms in the area as the population of Grand Cache grows from 500 in 1950 to over 4000 by the end of the 1960s.


Government biologists estimate the size of the AFA herd to be 1200-1600 individuals. Antlered season (adult males and females) is opened, and 76 animals are harvested (360 licensed hunters). Other estimates of the provincial caribou population are closer to 9000 individuals.


Sixty-three animals are harvested in the AFA (120 licensed hunters).


Noted big-game hunter Jack O'Connor reports that the Smoky River area has an abundant diversity of mixed-game; this includes observations of several hundred caribou in 1943. In 1961 he returns to the area and does not find a single caribou. O'Connor blames easy access to backcountry areas from oil roads, noting that "unless there is a change for the better, the Smoky River caribou herd must certainly be extinct today." Government biologists estimate there are 800-1000 caribou.


Published manuscripts suggest that habitat destruction, mainly logging, is causing the decline of caribou due to caribou favoring mature forests to those which have been recently logged and are in early seral stages.


Government biologists estimate the size of the AFA herd to be 200-300 individuals.


For unidentified reasons the province re-opens the hunting season, according to a recent government report. An average of 19 animals are harvested per year during subsequent years.

1948 - 1949

Province-wide ban on caribou hunting. Annual provincial government reports note the continued scarcity of caribou in the AFA.


Government report suggests that the decline of caribou in the AFA is due to caribou emigration to British Columbia. Guides, hunters and forest officers report a near total absence of caribou in areas north of Jasper National Park.


Male-only season in the AFA; caribou hunting is banned in the rest of the province.

1945 - 1946

Two harsh winters are thought to have further decimated caribou populations.

Timber activities in the AFA grow until the area has the highest timber extraction rates of any Forest Reserve in the province by 1945.


Caribou hunting is restricted to north of the Brazeau River.


Provincial report acknowledges the overall decline of wildlife species, including caribou, in areas where logging companies operate.


Government report suggests southern range contraction, with no caribou herd found south of the Hay (or Wildhay) River.


Provincial government recommends minimal protection for this species due to declining numbers through the 1920s. No such protection was implemented. Population estimates are thought be more than 2000 individuals.


Provincial government reports a "stable" population of caribou.

1909 - 1943

Province-wide hunting season, one caribou per hunter, an average of 40 animals are harvested per year.

Pre 1900's

Distribution is thought to be discontinuous over 2/3 of the province throughout the mixed coniferous, boreal forest zone and the mountainous areas north of Banff National Park.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Talk to your AB candidates!

Here's an excellent op ed in the Edmonton Journal, by Michael Bloomfield, provincial caribou specialist in Alberta and regional wildlife biologist for westcentral Alberta (from 1978 to 1983):

We must save caribou from our deadly greed
Get-rich-quick resource policy has put herds in deep peril


"In January 2012, federal Environment Minister Peter Kent delivered another blow to caribou survival, deciding not to recommend emergency protection for critical habitat for threatened caribou herds in Alberta.

If those trusted to defend the environment abdicate their responsibilities, it's in our hands. Either we make it clear to our political and business leaders that we want a more environmentally sustainable approach to development with ample room for caribou and other endangered species, or accept that we are partners in this deadly greed.

You can start by asking candidates in the current election campaign to pledge themselves to action now before the caribou disappear."

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Help the Seals, thank the Russian Federation

Recently, the Russian Federation passed a historic ban on trade in harp seal fur -- the main product of the Canadian seal slaughter that begins in just weeks.

But the Canadian government is vowing to reverse the ban through diplomatic pressure. Please show your support and take a moment to thank the Russian government for this momentous achievement and ask them not to give into pressure and overturn this important ban!