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Advocates Draw Attention to BC's Caribou Crisis

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At the recent Vancouver Mural Festival, Wildlife Defence League, Lush Cosmetics and Squamish Nation artist Siobhan Joseph partnered to raise awareness of British Columbia’s endangered caribou and the related wolf cull program.

Through a thought-provoking “Ethics Lounge”, visitors to the Mural Festival were encouraged to explore the complexities of the issue. The lounge featured photos from our research and fieldwork, including images of cut-blocks and active logging in caribou habitat. An interactive display revealed the root cause of caribou decline - as smoke from a smoke machine dissipated, a photo of a single tree left standing in a cut-block emerged. The display symbolized the provincial government’s approach of scapegoating wolves for the decline in caribou through it’s wolf-kill program, while permitting the continued destruction of caribou habitat.

The Ethics Lounge also included a call to action, which asked the public to text “caribou” to 70734, leading them to a letter they can send to the federal Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna. The letter calls for an emergency protection order for caribou under the Federal Species At Risk Act.

For the mural portion of the festival, Lush partnered with Siobhan Joseph, an artist from the Squamish Nation, who painted a mural titled “The Matriarch”, which was inspired by her mother.

“My mom was the matriarch of the family and she had very strong beliefs of protecting our land and our environment,” said Siobhan in a recent interview with the Daily Hive. If you missed this year’s Mural Festival, you can find Siobhan’s mural at the corner of Main Street and East 7th in Vancouver.

TAKE ACTION:

We’re encouraging our supporters to participate in our call to action for caribou by using our email template to send a message to Minister McKenna, calling for the emergency protection order. A provision in the Species At Risk Act compels the Minister to protect critical habitat for endangered species, yet caribou habitat continues to be impacted by industrial and high-impact recreational activity.

In a previous statement, Minister McKenna said actions at the provincial level haven’t done enough to protect and restore habitat and that immediate intervention is needed if endangered herds are to recover. Over a year later, the threats to caribou habitat remain the same.

Two herds have functionally gone extinct in the last year and others are on the brink. Meanwhile, the provincial government hides behind its wolf cull program that has killed over 500 wolves since the cull began in 2015. Join us in calling on Minister McKenna to request the emergency protection order needed to preserve caribou habitat and to end the unethical and misguided wolf cull program.

Coalition seeks to stop wildlife killing contests in British Columbia

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WDL joins a coalition of 54 environmental and animal protection groups, conservationists and scientists in calling on the government of British Columbia to put a stop to wildlife-killing contests, after learning about three such events currently taking place in the province.

In an open letter addressed to the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Doug Donaldson, the signatories expressed significant concern about the existence of contests throughout the province that are encouraging the indiscriminate killing of animals including wolves, coyotes, cougars and racoons.

In some cases, participants receive points for the type of animal killed and are competing for a cash prize. The coalition is currently aware of three separate contests, the first is a “wolf-whacking contest” hosted by Chilcotin Guns in Williams Lake; the second is a “predator tournament” hosted by the Creston Valley Rod and Gun Club; and the third is a wolf bounty being offered by the West Kootenay Outdoorsmen Club.

The coalition opposes these contests and argues they are not supported by science, nor are they ethical. While contest organizers claim their efforts are a “fun” way to protect ungulate populations by reducing predator populations, research shows that predator killing contests are ineffective and fail to address any root causes of decline. Instead, wildlife professionals suggest efforts should be invested in habitat protection and restoration.

The coalition also points to the widespread public support surrounding the ban on the grizzly bear trophy hunt, as well as the growing opposition to the province’s wolf cull program to suggest that the vast majority of British Columbians would also not support these predator killing contests.

These contests not only teach disrespect for wildlife through the indiscriminate killing of as many predators as possible for fun, but they also disregard the value of individual animals, both intrinsically and as a part of the larger ecosystem to which they belong.

The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources said in a statement that it doesn’t condone or encourage wildlife-killing contests but noted there are no rules that prevent them from being held so long as hunters are properly licensed and follow the laws. It’s our position that the government has the authority and responsibility to handle wildlife management and they permit what they condone and ban what they don’t. If they truly don’t condone these events then they should ban them.

We’re encouraging our supporters to contact the appropriate government officials and respectfully ask that predator-killing contests be banned. Contact information can be found below. You can also find contact information for your MLA and include them in your ask.

Hon. Doug Donaldson - Minster of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations & Rural Development

Email: FLNR.Minister@gov.bc.ca

Telephone: (250) 387-6240

Hon. George Heyman - Minister of Environment & Climate Change Strategy

E-mail: ENV.Minister@gov.bc.ca

Telephone: (250) 387-1187

Fish and Wildlife - Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations & Rural Development

Email: FishandWildlife@gov.bc.ca

Telephone: 1-877-855-3222