By John Cotter, The Canadian Press - Wednesday, March 6, 2013 - 0 Comments
EDMONTON – The Alberta Fish and Game Association wants the province to bring back…
EDMONTON – The Alberta Fish and Game Association wants the province to bring back a grizzly bear hunt in areas where it says there are too many of the animals.
The government suspended the hunt in 2006 over fears of dwindling numbers and declared grizzlies a threatened species in 2010.
The association, which represents about 24,000 hunters and anglers, has passed two resolutions calling for a new, limited hunt.
“It is only where there is a harvestable excess of grizzly bears — where they are causing problems, where they are spreading out beyond their territory because of no hunting anymore,” association president Gord Poirier said Wednesday.
“There still has to be protection for the grizzly bears where the population is low.”
Poirier said Alberta could allow a limited hunt without removing grizzlies from the threatened species list.
He said such a hunt could be restricted to areas such as southwest Alberta and be open only to residents of the province.
Alberta’s current five-year grizzly recovery plan is to expire April 1.
The association is to present its resolutions to Environment Minister Diana McQueen in the next few weeks.
Part of the push for a renewed hunt is coming from ranchers who live in southwest Alberta. They say they are seeing more bears and are worried about their livestock and the safety of their families.
“There appears to be enough grizzly bears causing quite a few problems,” Poirier said. “Last year one guy had nine grizzly bears in his yard at one time.”
Officials in McQueen’s department were not immediately available for comment.
The Alberta Wilderness Association is lobbying McQueen against allowing a new grizzly bear hunt.
In a letter to the minister, the wilderness association acknowledges there may be more grizzlies in southwest Alberta, but makes the point that no one is really sure, and if there are more bears, why?
Sean Nichols, a conservation specialist, wrote that it would be premature to consider a resumption of the hunt.
“Has the population actually increased, or is it just that bears are moving away from degraded habitat on public lands, and on to more appealing, but visible, habitat on private lands?” he wrote.
The last official estimate in 2008 said Alberta had fewer than 700 grizzly bears.
The association also reminded McQueen that the government made a commitment last fall not to allow a grizzly bear hunt until it had good scientific information about how many bears there are and where the bears live and roam.
In an interview, Nichols noted that grizzlies can move back and forth to different areas, including other jurisdictions such as Montana and British Columbia.
He said allowing grizzlies to be hunted in specific areas wouldn’t necessarily reduce the number of encounters between people and the bears.
Nichols said it would make more sense for the government to promote better rules for storing grain, handling trash and disposing of cattle carcasses.
“If you just starting killing bears you will have more bears coming in,” he said. “You are not solving the problem of them being on the ranch or doing any favours to the population in general.”
By Bob Keating - Monday, January 21, 2013 at 3:00 PM - 0 Comments
The strange culmination of one of B.C.’s most bizarre drug cases in recent memory
It was a crime story that all but wrote itself. In 2010, police investigating an outdoor marijuana operation in British Columbia’s southern Interior uncovered more than just pot plants. As the officers worked to dismantle the grow op, bears sauntered out of the woods, first six, then another four, and by final count as many as two dozen. When police searched the nearby house of an eccentric recluse, they found a “frantic” Vietnamese pot-bellied pig and a “laid back” raccoon.
Bears, bud and a B.C. backcountry hippie were too much for headline writers to resist. Within hours of the police suggesting that marijuana growers were using bears to guard their crops, the news spread around the world. “Don’t Smokey near this bear,” declared the New York Post, while video of a Russian news anchor trying to tell the story of the pot bears through tears of laughter was an online hit.
Last month the case against Allen Piche, 67, the owner of the grow op who admitted he regularly fed the bears dog food, finally came to a close. And if the details of that initial raid seemed odd, revelations about the bungled police investigation and Piche’s own strange relationship with the bears surely cement it as one of B.C.’s most bizarre drug cases in recent memory. Continue…
By macleans.ca - Wednesday, December 19, 2012 at 6:20 AM - 0 Comments
Hunters want to import hundreds of wild turkeys to shoot. Farmers aren’t nearly as keen.
With extraordinary eyesight, strength beyond their size and uncanny survival skills, wild turkeys are a favourite target for sportsmen. In New Brunswick, where the birds are increasingly showing up in fields and at backyard bird feeders, hunters have been lobbying the provincial government for decades to institute a legal wild-turkey hunt, and allow more birds to be brought in to boost the population. Now, despite trepidation from some farmers and naturalists who fear what could happen if the birds’ numbers explode, it appears the government is ready to act.
Rob Wilson, president of the local chapter of the Canadian Wild Turkey Federation, says his group hopes for an announcement within weeks. As a hunter who usually heads to the U.S. to bag his yearly bird, he’s excited at the prospect of finally being able to hunt at home. “They’re very challenging: not as easy as a white-tailed deer or moose,” says Wilson, who helped lead a volunteer-funded environmental assessment that was delivered to the government earlier this year.
Hunting the bird is currently legal in six provinces and 49 states. Bruce Northrup, New Brunswick’s natural resources minister, tagged along on a spring hunt in Maine to see what it entailed. “I’m not a hunter,” he says, describing a chilly morning wake-up for a dawn hunt. “We’re really trying to do our homework on this.”
By Ken MacQueen - Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 10:36 AM - 0 Comments
In conversation with Ken MacQueen
Jim Sterba is a veteran foreign reporter at the Wall Street Journal and one-time war correspondent, but his latest book, Nature Wars, is about insurgency of a different sort: the resurgent population of North American wildlife and the uneasy relationship with its neighbours. Both humans and overabundant populations of deer, bear, goose, beaver, coyote and others have taken to suburban life with sometimes disastrous consequences. “We turned a wildlife comeback miracle into a mess” of fouled parks, deer-vehicle accidents and downed jetliners, he writes. He argues our Disneyfied view of animals has tipped the balance of nature.
Q: I live in British Columbia, where trees are sacred and we love our wildwood creatures. Each has their own special interest group. Yet you say we have too much wildlife.
A: Certain species are over-abundant, like white-tail deer in many parts of the country. Some are just nuisances, like Canada geese. Some are damaging, like beavers. The problem with bears is that people have such an anthropomorphized view of them because they haven’t been around bears a lot, except teddy bears, so when a bear shows up they think, “Oh, it’s a cute little person,” and they throw it a doughnut, or they let it rifle through the garbage can and take its photograph, and the bear begins to associate the smell of people with food, not fear. It’s not the bear’s fault, it’s our fault. Continue…
By Blog of Lists - Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
These creatures have either died out entirely or are extirpated from Canada, meaning they no longer can be found in this country, but have survived elsewhere:
1. Hadley Lake stickleback (1999): A fish that was only found in Hadley Lake on Lasqueti Island in B.C.’s Strait of Georgia, the stickleback had only been discovered in the 1980s, but was completely wiped out by the introduction of catfish.
2. Karner blue (1991): A small blue butterfly that existed in the area between Toronto, London and Sarnia, the Karner blue no longer exists in Canada due to habitat change and loss of the larva’s only food source, the wild lupine.
3. Frosted elfin (1988): Another butterfly, the frosted elfin was only discovered in 1960 and the population may have only ever numbered 100. But they’re all gone from Canada now due to habitat loss. Continue…
By Jacob Richler - Sunday, October 28, 2012 at 11:00 AM - 0 Comments
In most provinces it’s illegal to sell the most local of meats. Jacob Richler says it’s time to rewrite the rules
One night this summer, while tirelessly eating my way across the country in search of restaurants for a Maclean’s special issue, I found myself at Raymonds in St. John’s, where I came across a menu item that had me beckoning wildly for the maitre d’. At issue was the daily pasta: hand-cut pappardelle with moose ragù. Yes, moose. How could this be?
“We have a licence to serve game,” restaurant manager Jeremy Bonia explained matter-of-factly.
This was exciting and unexpected news. A licence to sell prepared game: I had never heard of such a thing.
Sure, up North hunting is sometimes a geographic necessity. In Inuvik, in 2002, I saw a supermarket freezer full of hunks of muskox and caribou that looked to have been randomly carved from a frozen carcass with a chainsaw, if not hacked off with an axe.
Now, in every province of the Dominion outside of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, the game meat you buy in a restaurant is sourced from an animal that never enjoyed a glimpse of unfettered nature, except over a fence, or through the ventilation slats in the truck that carried it to the slaughterhouse.
By Jessica Darmanin - Thursday, February 16, 2012 at 8:10 AM - 0 Comments
Take a tour of Fur Harvesters Auction Inc. in North Bay, Ont.
Read the accompanying story: ‘We’re shooting polar bears?!?’
By Martin Patriquin - Monday, September 12, 2011 at 10:30 AM - 2 Comments
Hoardes of geese are tarnishing Canada’s name south of the border
Americans usually welcome visiting Canadians and their dollars with open arms. Yet every fall there are millions of Canadian tourists whose deposits aren’t nearly as appreciated. We speak, of course, of Branta Canadensis, the handsomely plumed birds best known as Canada geese. The birds, which have begun their yearly jaunt to southern climes, are an increasing nuisance in the U.S. Last year, Americans killed nearly two million Canada geese, including some 2,000 culled in New York City and neighbouring Nassau County. The trouble, according to Americans: the birds are loud, aggressive and dirty. “It’s like a sea of doo-doo,” one seriously put-off Long Islander told the Wall Street Journal recently. “No matter how much you chase them, they come back.”
The problem is getting worse, says McGill wildlife biology professor David Bird, because of a recent explosion in goose populations, the result of conservation efforts and the lack of natural predators in urban and suburban settings. “They’re aggressive,” says the aptly named Bird. “The worst weapon is their wing bone. They flick it, and it’ll break a kid’s forearm.” Such behaviour is tarnishing Canada’s name. “If you talk to Americans, they’ll try to blame this on Canada, but it’s not really true. A lot of geese actually breed in the northern part of the U.S.” A British tabloid dubbed the goose “one of Britain’s most hated birds” and, because the British government is considering lifting a ban on the sale of the meat, even included a recipe to curb the bird’s legendary gaminess. It’s tough to beat this old Canadian recipe, though: stew goose in a pot with assorted spices and a good-sized rock. After 12 hours, discard water and bird, eat the rock.
By Tom Henheffer - Thursday, December 16, 2010 at 10:40 AM - 8 Comments
New research suggests a possible cause of dolphin and whale strandings: severe to profound hearing loss
When weakened by disease, starvation or injury, dolphins succumb to an instinctual fear of drowning. Seized with panic, they swim to shallower and shallower water to keep breathing, and often wind up stranded on a beach, where the sun, sand and wind quickly end their lives.
Now, thanks to new research from the University of Southern Florida (USF), scientists have discovered one of the elusive root contributors to whale and dolphin strandings—deafness.
“Whales and dolphins are acoustic animals. They use sound to feed, they use sound to breed, they use sound to fulfill every biologically important goal of their existence,” says Michael Jasney, an ocean-noise expert with the National Resources Defense Council, an international environmental group. “If you take away their ability to hear, you take away their link to the world.”
By Erica Alini - Thursday, November 4, 2010 at 10:00 AM - 0 Comments
An unprecedented number of bear attacks have rocked the country, but man is likely to blame
Whether it’s urban foxes sneaking into babies’ cots in London, or sharks having a taste of surfers in Australia, there’s no question that human-animal encounters can be dangerous. Often, though, mankind itself is to blame. That appears to be the case in Japan, where authorities have been grappling with a surge of hungry bears coming to town for a snack. The Asiatic black bears, which are feared to be facing extinction, have caused panic across the country by doing things such as wandering in front of an elementary school in the northern town of Shari this year, or running into a souvenir shop after attacking a group of tourists in the central town of Takayama last year. In fact, a record number of bear attacks this summer left four people dead and 80 injured, and led to some 550 bears being killed near human-populated areas in northern and central Japan.
The problem dates back to 2004, when an uprecedented 68 such attacks prompted the country’s Environment Ministry to set up an emergency survey to find out the causes for so many wayward bears. One major source of trouble may be climate change: summer heat waves have reduced the supply of the furry mammals’ natural food sources such as acorns and nuts. But Japan’s decades-long neglect of its forests may also be to blame. After the war, an autarky-obsessed Japan started planting coniferous trees to ensure self-sufficency in lumber (only to later drop the policy in favour of relying on cheaper wood imports from overseas). But subsequent lack of oversight led to those trees growing into forests that were too dark and thick for nut-bearing trees to exist. At the same time, the country’s quick turn away from agriculture in the 1950s resulted in abandoned farms and rural communities, which, when occupied, used to provide a buffer between bears and urban areas. Disoriented and hungry bears started foraging too far, crossing paths with terrified urbanites, and paying dearly for it.
By Leah McLaren - Thursday, October 14, 2010 at 10:00 AM - 0 Comments
A planned badger cull has British animal lovers baring their teeth
“Good heavens, this business about badgers has been rumbling on for nearly 40 years!” declares Jack Reedy, spokesman for Britain’s Badger Trust, a charity devoted to “the conservation and welfare” of badgers. “It’s about time it was sorted.”
The “business” in question is Britain’s controversial badger cull proposed for next spring—an effort to control the spread of bovine tuberculosis (bTB), which has been on the rise over the past four decades. The disease is particularly serious in the southwest of England and Wales, where badgers are known to be carriers.
Last month, Elin Jones, Wales’s rural affairs minister, and Britain’s secretary of state for agriculture, Jim Paice, announced separately they would support proposals for major badger culls. In Wales, this would take the form of government run bio-security measures, including restricting the movement of cattle, in tandem with a supervised badger control program. In England, however, the proposal would simply license farmers to shoot the protected species at will.
By Josh Dehaas - Monday, August 30, 2010 at 10:00 AM - 0 Comments
Why a major cull of Canada geese may be a waste of time
On July 8, six wildlife biologists in navy blue U.S. Department of Agriculture T-shirts spent their morning chasing packs of Canada geese around Brooklyn, N.Y.’s Prospect Park. They corralled them with temporary fences and then placed them, three at a time, in turkey cages. The cages were then loaded into a truck and driven to a nearby warehouse where the geese were placed in a special chamber. Carbon dioxide was pumped in. Minutes later, the dead geese were loaded back into the truck, taken to a landfill, and buried.
The process was repeated until all 400 of the park’s resident Canada geese were dead. All that was left, according to joggers who passed through the park later that morning, were feathers floating on the pond.
By Jen Cutts - Thursday, June 17, 2010 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
He has 15,000 Facebook fans
Dopey and starving after a long winter’s nap, Dino the bear began searching for food—and wandered into the limelight. The 385-lb. brown bear, nicknamed by the Italian media, has been frustrating farmers in the Italian Alps with his attacks on their cows, chickens and sheep. Though brown bears are protected by Italian law, the farmers want Dino shot. His fans (nearly 15,000 on a Facebook page) are insisting he be allowed to live.
By macleans.ca - Tuesday, July 7, 2009 at 12:31 PM - 0 Comments
Zoo general says it was like an “old-fashioned chimps tea party”
An investigation is under way after 30 chimpanzees escaped their pen at Chester Zoo in the UK. On Sunday afternoon, the chips managed to maneuver into a nearby keeper’s area, forcing the zoo to perform emergency procedures and evacuate the visitors. The zoo has since reopened and apologized to the visitors for the inconvenience. “Somehow or other they got into the kitchen‹it must have been the smell of the bananas or something like that,” says Zoo General Gordon McGregor-Reid. “It was a bit like an old-fashioned chimps tea party. They’ve certainly had a ball in that room that’s for sure.”