Russians Say Canadian Documents Help Polar Bear Poachers
Bob Weber, Canadian Press | 13/04/14
Russian officials are becoming increasingly concerned about polar bear poachers in their country using Canadian documents to disguise illegally hunted pelts.
“I think it is a real problem,” said Nikita Ovsyanikov, one of Russia’s top polar bear scientists and a member of the polar bear specialist group, the leading international research consortium on the mighty and controversial predators.
Ovsyanikov claims that Canadian documents required to bring hides into the country are being separated from the shipments they originally accompanied and sold separately. The certificates are then applied to skins from Russian polar bears to make them appear as if they have been legally hunted and imported.
Canada is the only country in the world that allows sport hunting of polar bears, which makes it the only country to issue certificates under the Convention on Trade In Endangered Species that allow polar bear products to cross borders.
“I’m aware of two cases where not pelts, but certificates were offered for sale on the Internet,” Ovsyanikov in an interview with The Canadian Press from Moscow. “The price was $1,000 so it was quite a profitable business.”
Groups such as the International Fund for Animal Welfare have raised similar concerns.
They have released an Internet screen grab from last October showing what appears to be a Canadian CITES certificate along with a polar bear rug. The price is 30,000 rubles — about $1,000.
“It was marked ‘Sold,’” translated Maria Vorontsova, a member of the Fund’s Moscow branch. “It was referring to the certificate, not the hide.:
Ovsyanikov said polar bear hides sell in Russia for up to $50,000.
Such pelts are increasingly popular among Russia’s elite. Canadian auction houses have said they can’t meet demand for the hides, most of which go to Russia.
Russian officials, supported by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, used concerns over the Canadian documents aiding poachers to argue that all trade in polar bear parts should be banned at the recent CITES meeting in Bangkok.
However, Canadian scientists aren’t sure there’s a problem.
Geoff York of the World Wildlife Fund said his group looked into the accusations about a year ago and failed to find much evidence.
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Polar Bear Hunt Ends in Fines
Winnipeg Free Press – Aldo Santin – Posted: 04/6/2013
Big-game hunters from Mexico legally shot and killed three polar bears this week in Canada’s North but were stopped in their tracks when they tried to take the hides out of the country without the proper permits.
A Winnipeg judge blasted them with $80,000 in fines Friday, days after the hunting trip to Nunavut.
Acting on a tip, Environment Canada wildlife officers and Canada Border Services agents searched the men’s private jet last Sunday as it refuelled in Winnipeg and found three polar bear hides and narwhal tusks.
The men did not have the proper export permits.
The four men pleaded guilty in provincial court Friday and paid their fines in cash.
Defence lawyer Evan Roitenberg, who represented three of the men — a 67-year-old man and his two adult sons — described his clients as “gentlemen of means” who simply made a mistake by trusting an outfitter who promised to provide all necessary permits.
The four men travelled to Canada on March 15 from Monterrey, Mexico, aboard a private jet, after paying $35,000 each to participate in an Arctic big-game hunt.
Polar bears are protected under Canadian law and international treaty, so polar bears can only be harvested by Inuit hunters for sustenance, or by sport hunters guided by Inuit.
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Mexicans Fined for Trying to Export Polar Bears
JAMES TURNER | QMI AGENCY
WINNIPEG – A Winnipeg judge handed out $80,000 in fines Friday to a group of high-flying Mexican trophy hunters snared at the airport without the permits required to export several polar bears they bagged on a hunting trip in Canada’s north.
Hector Armando Martinez, 67, Alejandro Martinez, 35, and Gerardo Rodriguez, 41, faced infractions under federal environmental protection and international trade laws after the private jet belonging to Hector Armando Martinez was searched at the Winnipeg airport March 31.
A fourth man, Hector Martinez Martinez, 38, was charged under the Fisheries Act in connection to two narwhal tusks which were seized.
The men paid $35,000 each for a legal hunting trip to far-flung parts of Nunavut which began in mid-March, court heard. However, wildlife officials were tipped off they might be trying to return to Mexico without required export permits for game they killed.
A search of the hunters’ plane by Canada Border Services Agency officials found this was the case, Judge Kelly Moar was told.
Mexican Polar Bear Hunters Fined $80K
NAWEOA | Thursday, 11 April 2013 | Rob G Brandenburg
A Winnipeg judge handed out $80,000 in fines Friday to a group of high-flying Mexican trophy hunters snared at the airport without the permits required to export several polar bears they bagged on a hunting trip in Canada’s north. Hector Armando Martinez Martinez, 67, Alejandro Martinez, 35, and Gerardo Rodriguez, 41, faced infractions under federal environmental protection and international trade laws after the private jet belonging to Hector Armando Martinez was searched at the Winnipeg airport March 31
Illegal Trophy Export Attempt of Arctic Trophies Costs Mexican Hunters $80,000
NEWS: Around the Arctic April 08, 2013
Nabbed in Winnipeg, hunters head home empty-handed
Four Mexican hunters returning from Nunavut paid $80,000 in fines April 5 before they made a hasty retreat from Winnipeg back to Mexico — heading home without their polar bear and narwhal trophies.
The men paid individual fines ranging from $10,000 to $30,000 to the federal government for offenses under the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act and the Fisheries Act.
They were fined after Environment Canada wildlife officers received a tip last week that hunters were planning to take three polar bear hides and three narwhal tusks back to Mexico in a private jet, but without having first obtained the necessary export permits.
Hector Martinez, a property developer in the northern Mexican hub of Monterey, his two sons, Hector Armando Martinez and Alejandro Martinez, who work for their father, and Martinez’s godson, Gerardo Jimeno Rodriguez, a businessman, had arrived March 15 in Canada with a group of other Mexican hunters.
The group then split up, with some heading for Resolute Bay and the others to Cambridge Bay.
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Inuit Response to US Polar Bear Uplisting at CITES
Speech: March 06, 2013
PROPOSAL 3: NGO INTERVENTION
President, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami
My name is Terry Audla. I represent Inuit, the Indigenous Peoples of Arctic Canada, as the President of our national organization, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami.
Thank you for giving Inuit a voice today, a voice seldom heard in venues such as this … and a voice that needs to be heard.
I would like to begin by congratulating CITES on 40 years of work. This is important work.
It is essential to recognize, as well, that your decisions here this week and next week affect the human species as well as wildlife.
This proposal is not about taking action on climate change. A vote in favour of this proposal will have absolutely no effect on greenhouse gas emissions.
It is not about protecting polar bears. A vote in favour of this proposal will have no effect whatsoever on hunting quotas.
That’s right. Our hunt is a legal harvest and will continue regardless of an uplisting.
But if you choose to vote in favour of this proposal, you are choosing to significantly reduce the livelihoods of Canadian Inuit.
Your decision will have a direct and immediate impact on our lives.
For those of you who have not spoken with us this week and do not realize the impact of your decision, I urge you now to support Inuit livelihoods and oppose Proposal 3.
Please realize, as well, that your decision is crucial to the integrity of CITES.
As experts from around the world (your own CITES Secretariat, TRAFFIC, the Polar Bear Specialists Group, WWF International, PEW Environmental Group, and others) have acknowledged, this proposal does not meet the criteria for Appendix I.
In fact, you acknowledged this yourselves at the last Conference of the Parties three years ago in Doha by voting to oppose this same proposal.
I ask that you trust your own good judgment in making your decision again today.
U.S. Proposal to Ban Cross-Border Polar Bear Trade Fails
The Associated Press: Mar 7, 2013
Inuit welcome news that ban was defeated
A proposal by the United States to ban cross-border trade in polar bears and their parts was defeated Thursday at an international meeting of conservationists, marking a victory for Canada’s Inuit over their big neighbour to the south.
Delegates at the triennial meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, or CITES, rejected Washington’s proposal to change the status of the polar bear from a species whose trade is merely regulated, not banned.
The proposal fell far short of the two-thirds needed to pass, garnering 38 votes in favour, 42 against and 46 abstentions. A similar proposal was defeated three years ago at the last CITES meeting.
While support for most of the meeting’s 70 proposals covering the trade in other species fell along predictable lines, the U.S. proposal made for some odd bedfellows. Russia endorsed Washington’s proposal, which was also supported by a cluster of animal humane societies. Canada was joined in opposition by some of the larger conservation organizations, including the CITES Secretariat and the Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network, better known as TRAFFIC.
The worldwide population of polar bears is estimated to be 20,000 to 28,000, with about two-thirds in Canada.
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PETA Calls Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals haven’t been the best of friends this year; ever since the superstar began openly wearing fur and defending her right to do so, the animal rights organization has been denouncing her in a series of statements. The latest denunciation comes in response to a fur-buying spree the singer went on in Russia recently.
The New York Post reports that Gaga was spotted last week at a Moscow boutique picking out a green-dyed silver fox coat worth more than $19,000, and a dark brown Barguzin Russian sable that sells for around $210,000. Insiders say Gaga wore the sable out of the store when she finished her shopping.
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Officials Crack Canadian-U.S. Narwhal Smuggling Ring
PORTLAND, Maine — The Globe and Mail — Jan. 03 2013
A smuggling ring brought narwhal tusks from the Canadian Arctic into Maine in a trailer with a secret compartment and then illegally sold them to American buyers, officials said.
Andrew Zarauskas, of Union, N.J., and Jay Conrad, of Lakeland, Tenn., will be arraigned in Bangor, Maine, next week on 29 federal smuggling and money laundering charges each.
For nearly a decade, two Canadians smuggled the whale tusks into Maine and shipped them via FedEx to Mr. Zarauskas, Mr. Conrad and other unnamed American buyers, according to an indictment.
Narwhals are known as the unicorns of the sea for their spiral, ivory tusks that can grow longer than 8 feet. The tusks can sell for thousands of dollars each, but it’s illegal to import them into the U.S.
The court document doesn’t specify how much money was involved, but it says the Canadian sellers received at least 150 payments from tusk buyers.
“The conspiracy we’ve alleged was over a period of 10 years, so there appears to have been enough of a market to support that length of conduct,” said Todd Mikolop, who is prosecuting the case for the environmental crimes section of the Department of Justice.
Narwhals live in Arctic waters and are harvested by Inuit hunters for their meat, skin and tusks, said Calvin Kania, president of Furcanada in British Columbia, which sells tusks to buyers who want them for display purposes or to turn into jewelry.
The tusks range from 3 feet to more than 8 feet, and typically sell for $1,000 to $7,000 each, Mr. Kania said. He ships tusks worldwide, but not to countries that prohibit imports, including the U.S., the United Kingdom and Australia.
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Alleged Narwhal-Tusk Smuggling Operation Smashed in Joint Canada-U.S. Effort
Randy Boswell, Postmedia News | Jan 2, 2013
Federal environment officials in Canada and the United States have cracked an alleged smuggling operation that saw scores of narwhal tusks from the Canadian Arctic illegally shipped across the New Brunswick-Maine border in the secret compartment of a trailer.
Gregory and Nina Logan of Grande Prairie, Alta., are facing 28 charges in New Brunswick in connection with the alleged export of the tusks of the narwhal, a threatened Arctic whale, to customers in the U.S. — a violation of Canadian and American laws shaped by CITES, an international treaty that regulates the commercial trade in animal parts of vulnerable species.
And in December, the U.S. Department of Justice unsealed an indictment alleging that two unnamed Canadians and two U.S. citizens — Andrew Zarauskas of Union, N.J., and Jay Conrad of Lakeland, Tenn. — conspired for close to a decade to transport the valuable whale tusks to U.S. buyers via the Milltown border crossing between St. Stephen, N.B., and Calais, Maine.
While the prosecutions in Canada and the U.S. are unfolding separately, the dozens of charges laid in the two cases appear to stem from the same alleged, cross-border tusk-smuggling ring.
The tusks — which routinely fetch prices of thousands of dollars each, and even $10,000 or more for superb specimens — can be sold within Canada or to select international markets, but not to the U.S. or other countries that have laws forbidding imports of certain animal parts.
Sometimes reaching three metres in length, the spiraled, spear-like narwhal tusk is coveted by collectors as one of the most exquisite creations of nature. The tusk — which is actually a kind of super-sensitive tooth that grows from the upper jaw of most male narwhals and may play a role in mate selection — is also believed to have inspired the ancient myth about magical horses with a long, perfect horn projecting from their heads: the unicorn.
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Future of Canada’s Fur Industry Depends on Designers
PAUL WALDIE – The Globe and Mail
Friday, Nov. 23 2012
Paula Lishman is a conservationist, fashion designer and represents the future of the fur industry in Canada.
Many of her creations involve using beaver, muskrat and fox fur in new ways – as fabrics, threads and yarn – to make a variety of garments ranging from hats, mitts and scarves to head bands, jackets and even armrest covers for wheelchairs. She also makes fabric out of beaver pelts and dyes it in up to 400 colours.
Fur “feels amazing and I think it has a really good future because it’s not made of non-renewable products. It’s not polluting and it is warmer than anything,” said Ms. Lishman, who is also president of the Fur Council of Canada.
“Man has just never been able to reproduce anything that has the sensuality and the feeling of fur,” said Ms. Lishman, whose company, Paula Lishman International, is based in Port Perry, Ont.
Canada’s fur industry is depending on designers such as Ms. Lishman, who have moved away from making full-length coats and turned instead to using fur in trims and accessories. For now, anyway, the move appears to be working.
Fur sales have been rising steadily in recent years. The number of pelts on mink farms in Canada increased to 2.6 million last year from two million in 2007, according to Statistics Canada. And prices for those pelts have been holding steady at around $100 per pelt on average, compared with about $20 in the early 1990s.
“In the last couple of years, [the market] has really been taking off,” Fur Council spokesman Alan Herscovici said.
Prices for wild furs, such as beaver, fox and muskrat, have also been trending higher. Toronto-based North American Fur Auctions reported strong sales at its latest auction in October and sold nearly all of its fur. “The outlook at this time for most of our wild fur products is excellent and is the foundation for another outstanding February sale,” the company said in a recent report.
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“Biopsy Darting” Baffin Bay Polar Bears
CBC News – Posted: Oct 18, 2012
[[ This is a photo slideshow … click the Read More link below to see the photos ]]
A major survey of polar bears on Baffin Bay in Nunavut is underway – researchers hope to provide some answers as to how many bears can be sustainably hunted by Inuit in the region.
All photos are by Paul Tukker/CBC.
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The Telegram – Opinion – Editorial – October 11, 2012
Organized seal culls are bad — unless they’re in Europe.
Seals don’t threaten fish stocks — unless they’re European seals.
It appears what most fishermen on this side of the Atlantic have known all along is now being taken seriously by politicians on the other side.
And the sheer hypocrisy of seal culls in northern Europe stinks worse than last week’s fish guts festering on a beach.
Canadian Sealers Association president Frank Pinhorn certainly thinks so.
“It’s two-faced,” he told CBC news on Tuesday. “Individuals making decisions that are not thought out, and it doesn’t demonstrate any … common sense.”
He’s referring to the 2009 European Union ban on seal products, a ban Canada is challenging through the World Trade Organization.
As it turns out, Scotland already culls some seals to protect its farmed salmon operations. Seals are also culled in Finland and Sweden.
Last month, the European Parliament approved a motion to investigate the effect on fish populations of “natural predators such as sea lions, seals and cormorants,” with an eye to possibly expanding culls.
So, where does the mighty International Fund for Animal Welfare stand on this?
It’s hard to tell. They’ll respond to media questions, but their website is still obsessed with Canadian seals.
Canada Opposes EU Seal Cull
By Jessica Hume, Parliamentary Bureau, October 09, 2012 – Toronto Sun
OTTAWA – Despite imposing a trade ban on seal products from Canada in 2009, the European Commission has no problem calling for a seal cull of its own.
Calling the measure an attempt to manage the seal population, the Scottish government has approved a cull of 878 grey seals and 289 common seals in the hopes that less seals will mean more cod and other fish stocks.
Frank Pinhorn, executive director of the Canadian Sealers Association, is not impressed.
“This just demonstrates how hypocritical they are,” he said. “You need a sustainable, viable way of dealing with this and what they do is wasteful; it’s indiscriminate killing. We have a three-step process that has been approved by vets.”
Canada recently challenged the EU’s 2009 ruling before the World Trade Organization and “looks forward to moving ahead with the WTO dispute settlement process in the coming months,” according to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
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Canada Keeping Tabs On EU’s Plan To Cull Seal Population
BILL CURRY – OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail; Oct. 08 2012
Europe is facing a seal-shooting controversy in its own backyard, as concern over fish stocks and nuisance seals led the European Parliament to approve a plan to “manage” its seal population.
Canada’s sealing industry says the recent events are highly hypocritical given Europe’s condemnation of Canada’s commercial seal hunt.
Reports out of Scotland, Ireland and England in recent weeks have focused on growing tension between seal advocates and the fishing industry, which argues seal populations need to be culled in order to protect fish stocks.
Local environmentalists are condemning a Scottish government-approved cull that has granted licences to kill 878 grey seals and 289 common seals this year.
Beyond the debate over approved culls, there are also reports of seals being killed without a licence.
Last month, the European Parliament weighed in, approving a resolution on a “Common Fisheries Policy” that calls on the European Commission “to investigate the reduction in fish stocks owing to natural predators such as sea lions, seals and cormorants, and to draw up and implement management plans to regulate these populations in co-operation with the affected Member States.”
This is the same European Parliament that voted in 2009 to ban commercial seal products, a decision Canada is fighting before the World Trade Organization.
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Canada, Norway Press Ahead with EU Seal Ban Challenge
ICTSD | 8th October 2012
Canada and Norway have surprised many in the trade community by proceeding to the next formal stage in their challenge of the EU’s ban on seal products (DS400, DS401). In requesting the WTO Director-General to appoint a panel of experts to review the case, Ottawa and Oslo re-ignited a dispute that has not advanced at the global trade arbiter since March 2011 (see Bridges Trade BioRes, 4 April 2011).
Adding to the growing list of recent disagreements between trading partners under the WTO’s Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Agreement, this emotionally-charged row could be the first of its kind to ask the WTO to specifically rule on considerations of animal welfare or public morality as justifying limits on trade.
The panel nominations are expected to become public during the coming days.
The case, arising from a complaint launched by Canada and Norway in November 2009, concerns a 2009 EU Regulation banning the marketing of seal products from commercial sealing operations in the 27-country bloc. In their WTO complaints, the Canadian and Norwegian governments argue that the ban breaches the WTO’s fundamental non-discrimination principles, as well as Articles 1 and 2 of the TBT Agreement, which mandate that technical regulations be non-discriminatory and not be more trade restrictive than necessary.
While the directive justifies the ban on the basis of the allegedly inhumane nature of seal hunting, Canada and Norway have long argued that seal hunting is a legitimate economic pursuit, and that the hunting methods in question are sustainable.
“The Atlantic and northern harvests are humane, sustainable, and well-regulated activities that provide an important source of food and income for coastal and Inuit communities,” the Canadian Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans said in a statement. “The Government of Canada is firmly committed to defending our sealing industry and the coastal and northern communities that depend on the seal harvest.”
“For the Norwegian authorities, this issue involves important principles, such as our right to sustainably harvest our living marine resources and to sell products derived from hunting and fishing,” the Norwegian Minister of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs added in a statement.
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Government Pushes Own Trade Agenda
October 5, 2012 – Views and News from Norway
Just as Norway’s government is sparking anger in Brussels over its intention to boost important tariffs on meat and cheese, it’s also fighting a ban on the sale of its own seal products within the European Union. Norway is gearing up to defend the complaint it lodged with the World Trade Organization (WTO), part of ongoing efforts to set its own trade agenda.
The EU ban on imports of seal products poses no great economic threat to Norway, which is far wealthier than most EU countries not least because of its oil and gas resources. Fighting the ban is, rather, “a matter of principle,” Torgeir Larsen, state secretary in the foreign ministry, told newspaper Aftenposten last week.
Officials in EU countries, angry at Norway’s attempts to block imports of their own meat and cheese, might say the same. They contend the Norwegian government, which recently caved in to the demands of its farmer-friendly coalition partner, the Center Party, is violating the spirit of an agreement among European nations, including Norway, to gradually liberalize trade among members of the EU and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).
The seal battle has gone on for years, with opponents upset over the apparent brutality of the seal hunt. The EU, however, accepts hunts “traditionally conducted by Inuit and other indigenous communities and which contribute to their subsistence.” The EU hasn’t banned seal hunting in Norway, it just doesn’t want to support any hunt that’s not vital to the country carrying it out.
Canada has also complained of unfair trade restrictions imposed on it by the EU trade ban, with Norway following. Aftenposten reported that Norway exported NOK 2.7 million worth of seal products to Canada. Some of the Inuit communities exempted by the EU ban are in Canada, but Canada as a whole felt compelled to challenge the ban along with Norway.
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Canada Forges On Against EU Seal Ban
BILL CURRY – OTTAWA — Globe and Mail – Sep. 24 2012
Canada is pushing ahead with a legal battle against the European Union over the seal hunt even as both sides enter the final stretch of free-trade negotiations.
Ottawa is asking the World Trade Organization (WTO) to appoint a panel that will hear Canada’s challenge of the EU’s ban on seal products. Canada argues its hunt is humane and sustainable and that the 2009 ban violates the EU’s international trade pledges.
Canada first announced its WTO challenge more than three years ago, but the case hadn’t gone anywhere and was assumed by some to have been abandoned.
The move, which was announced Monday, comes as Canada and the EU are working on a Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) that the Conservative government promises to conclude by the end of 2012.
Adam Taylor, a spokesperson for Trade Minister Ed Fast, insisted the WTO complaint and the free-trade talks are two separate issues. But many in the European Parliament strongly disagree.
Last year more than 100 members of the 753-member European Parliament signed an open letter vowing to oppose CETA unless Canada abandons its WTO case.
The letter called Canada’s WTO challenge “an attack on both European and Canadian values and European democratic processes.” In 2009, the European Parliament voted in favour of regulations that ban the sale of commercial seal products. That same body must also vote to approve any trade deal that is negotiated with Canada.
The EU delegation in Ottawa issued a muted response Monday, saying Canada’s WTO request “follows the normal course of this legal process.”
“On our part, we continue to defend our position and remain confident that the measure in question is non-discriminatory and in conformity with the WTO. The final say, of course, rests with the WTO panel,” read the statement, which was provided by an EU spokesperson.
One Canadian trade lawyer, Simon Potter at McCarthy Tétrault, previously estimated the WTO challenge would cost Ottawa $10-million. That’s far more than the current annual value of the seal hunt. According to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the total value of Canadian seal products has declined from $34.3-million in 2006 to $1.3-million in 2010.
Former Canadian trade negotiator Peter Clark, who currently advises parties connected to the CETA negotiations, said he doesn’t think Canada’s WTO case will delay the free-trade talks, but the strong anti-sealing sentiment in the EU Parliament can’t be ignored.
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Fur Flies Over RCMP’s ‘Coyote Strips’ Order
Force says synthetic fibres do not provide the warmth required in extreme northern climates
By Ian MacLeod, Postmedia News October 13, 2012
The RCMP is hunting for 2,000 pieces of thick coyote fur to warm the thin blue line.
The force issued a request for proposals Friday to supply it with Canadian “coyote strips” to line the hoods of parkas issued to officers. The initial call is for 2,000 strips, with an option for 1,000 more. The estimated value is $100,000 to $250,000.
“The fur requirement is necessary in providing members with adequate warmth in extreme inclement weather conditions including some of the most northern communities of this country,” the force said in email statement.
Already, though, the fur is flying.
“Our belief is that fur belongs on animals and not the RCMP,” said Lesley Fox, executive director of the Vancouver-based Association for the Protection of Fur Bearing Animals.
The group has long urged the Mounties to switch from furs for its hats and parkas to natural fibres and synthetic furs.
But the Mounties aren’t budging.
“The characteristics of fur have been found to surpass those of commercially available synthetic fur to meet various and extreme inclement weather conditions encountered by RCMP members during their operational duties at various locations in Canada,” it said in the press statement.
EU Makes Pitch For Arctic Cooperation
“The time has come to work together, constructively and with determination on the future of the Arctic.”
The European Union has a stake in what happens in the Arctic, says Maria Damanaki, the European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, who argued Oct 4 for more cooperation between the EU and Arctic states.
Speaking at the annual Arctic Futures conference in Brussels, Damanaki addressed scientists, academics, business representatives, indigenous groups and policymakers, “in the heart of Europe, to discuss future scenarios for the Arctic.”
The EU itself is “an Arctic actor by virtue of three Arctic states, Denmark, Finland and Sweden,” she said — “four, if Iceland accedes to the EU.”
“The EU stands ready to aid the region’s sustainable development: supporting Arctic research, boosting economic development, combating global warming and developing greener technologies, while collaborating in international bodies to set high environmental and safety standards for the Arctic, ” Damanaki said.
The EU is also a key investor in the Arctic’s economic development, she said.
“In the last five years alone we have delivered over 1.1 billion [euros] in programmes stretching from Greenland to the Urals,” she said.
The EU is also exploring the Arctic from space, she said, because “due to its remoteness and its harsh environment, earth-orbiting satellites have to be used for science, research and communication.”
As the ice retreats, a number of new opportunities could open up in the Arctic, she said,
Off-shore drilling in the Arctic now becomes a viable option for big oil companies, she said, because “though we may be greening the global economy, oil and gas remain vital.”
Arctic shipping is also due for “a big comeback.”
Remote Arctic cities such as Tromsø, Reykjavik, Murmansk and Nuuk will be on the transport grids to Europe, Asia or the Americas and will have the chance to become “central trading hubs”, she said.
And as the waters of the North Atlantic and Arctic get warmer, “we will see more and more fish stocks moving north.”
“Last, but not least, the region is also thought to be rich of minerals such as iron, zinc, copper, diamonds, gold and rare earths,” she said. “The EU is the largest economic block in the world, so clearly, the importance of the Arctic for us is only bound to increase,”
But all these opportunities also carry responsibilities, she noted.
“Utmost care should be taken to minimize the risks of pollution from shipping and offshore drilling, as oil spills and accidents would have grave consequences on the Arctic’s precious ecosystems. If they do take place, systems should be in place for a swift and effective clean-up.”
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Atanarjuat Star Shoots Polar Bear In Self-Defence
Bear Was Staring Into Man’s Cabin
CBC News – Oct 11, 2012
An Igloolik, Nunavut, man was forced to shoot a polar bear in self-defence after it came too close to his cabin.
Natar Ungalaaq, an Inuk actor well-known for his role in Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner), said on Wednesday that he woke to an alarming sight — a bear was staring into his cabin.
He says he shot the bear when it looked in through a window without glass in his porch area.
Ungalaaq said he was scared to be that close to the animal.
“I had an experience of shooting that bear you know, almost naked you know. The last movie that I was [in I was] all naked but this time I had to use shorts to get out from my bed, and shoot that bear but, last night I was not smiling,” he said.
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Scientists Call for Experimental Cull of 73,000 Seals
The Canadian Press – Mar 23, 2011
Junk science and questionable political motives are behind a new federal report that calls for an experimental cull of 70 per cent of the grey seals in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence, a leading critic of Canada’s annual seal hunt says.
Rebecca Aldworth, Canadian director of Humane Society International, was reacting Wednesday to the release of a science advisory report that says Ottawa should consider a five-year study that would start with the slaughter of 73,000 grey seals in an area stretching from eastern New Brunswick to Cape Breton, N.S.
The study, produced by the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat, says the experiment would determine whether significantly reducing the grey seal population in the Gulf would help cod stocks recover from a drastic decline.
However, it also acknowledges there are such large gaps in research on the problem that a large-scale seal cull could just as easily lead to wiping out cod in the Gulf.
Calls to the federal Fisheries Department, which commissioned the study, were not returned Wednesday.
Denny Morrow, head of the Nova Scotia Fish Packers Association, said the study represents a step forward for science.
“There’s data there that indicates that the recovery of codfish stocks in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and probably other areas is being held back by the amount of grey seal predators,” he said in an interview.
Morrow acknowledged there were scientific gaps in the research, particularly about the grey seal diet. But he said the document included one peer-reviewed study showing that the amount of cod in the diet of male grey seals reached as high as 41 per cent in the winter months.
“Fishermen have known this for years,” he said. “If you’ve got large concentrations of cod, and you see a lot of grey seals, it doesn’t take too much science to understand what is going on.”
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Retreating Arctic Ice, Poaching will Wipe Out Polar Bears Within 25 Years: Expert
Matthew Fisher, Postmedia News | Oct 12, 2012
ST. PETERSBURG — While Arctic sea ice reached a record low this summer, it is not widely known almost all the ice that melted or drifted away was on the Russian, not the Canadian and Greenlandic side of the great northern sea.
One immediate consequence has been further grief and peril for Russia’s already seriously distressed polar bears.
“It is worse for Russian polar bears than the bears in Canada or Greenland because the pack ice is retreating much faster in our waters,” said Nikita Ovsyannikov, deputy director of Russia’s polar bear reserve on Wrangel Island in the Chukchi Sea northwest of Alaska. “The best habitat is quickly disappearing. It is extreme.
“What we are seeing right now is very late freezing. Our polar bear population is obviously declining. It used to be that new ice was thick enough for them to walk on in late October. It now will happen much later.”
Figuring out how many bears still survived on and near the Chukchi Sea — home to the largest of Russia’s four polar bear populations — was difficult because they were spread across such a vast area, said the zoologist, who has spent his life studying bears in the High Arctic.
He guessed the number of bears around the Chukchi Sea, which also sometimes migrate in small numbers to western Alaska, had dropped over the past three decades from “about 4,000 to no more than 1,700 at best.”
[ Read More ]
European Seal Cull Called Hypocritical
Seals to be killed in Scotland, Finland, Sweden to protect fish stocks
CBC News – Oct 10, 2012
The Canadian Sealers Association is slamming European politicians for allowing seals to be killed within their own waters, while banning Canadian seal products.
“What it shows is what they’re doing now is hypocritical,” said Frank Pinhorn, the association’s executive director, reacting to how seals are being culled in Scotland to protect spawning salmon.
European parliamentarians also voted recently to co-ordinate seal population control measures because of the threat they pose to fish stocks.
In Sweden and Finland, seals are also killed despite the European Union’s long-standing objections to Canada’s hunt of harp seals, which European politicians have often cast as cruel
“It’s two-faced. Individuals making decisions that are not thought out and it doesn’t demonstrate any sense of common sense,” said Pinhorn.
“It’s already underway over there. We know for a fact that in Scotland they’re culling seals on their aquaculture sites,” Pinhorn said.
[ Read More ]
U.S. Proposes Ban on Polar Bear Trade
Vote on proposal set for March 2013 at CITES meeting in Thailand
CBC News – Oct 5, 2012
The United States is again lobbying for an international ban on the trade of polar bear parts, after a previous attempt failed in 2010.
Officials have submitted a proposal to reclassify the animals under Appendix I — as a species threatened with extinction — of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species or CITES. That would shut down the commercial trade of hides, teeth and claws.
It would also effectively shut down international polar bear sport hunts.
This is the second time the U.S. has tried to get a ban on the international trade of polar bear parts. In 2010, the first American proposal was defeated at a meeting in Qatar.
Nunavut Tunngavik, the Nunavut land claims organization, is outraged by the move.
“The polar bear population is very healthy right now and traditional knowledge says that the numbers are increasing,” said NTI vice-president James Eeteelook.
Canada is home to about two-thirds of the world’s 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears.
Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami president Terry Audla said he was disappointed by the American proposal.
Officials from NTI, ITK, the Inuvialuit Game Council, the Government of Nunavut and the Government of Canada, went to Washington this year to talk to U.S. politicians about Canadian polar bear populations and Inuit harvesting practices and to lobby against an Appendix I proposal.
[ Read More ]
Who’s in trouble, polar bears or people?
Margaret Wente | Tuesday, Apr. 10, 2012
The polar bears of Hudson Bay are among the most endearing creatures on the planet. On Sunday, a remarkable documentary broadcast on the CBC showed them at their most compelling. Narrated by David Suzuki, the film Polar Bears: A Summer Odyssey features stunning images and a story line that will have your kids in tears. It follows an adolescent bear, a teenager, as he struggles for survival and navigates the frigid ocean for the first time alone, without his mother. We learn that the polar bears, who feed almost entirely during the winter, are in danger of starving to death because of global warming.
“Each year, the ice melts earlier,” Mr. Suzuki tells us. “Today’s bears have less time on the ice than their parents and grandparents … When the ice finally vanishes, the long, hot summer begins.” This population, we are told, has dwindled by 22 per cent in less than two decades.
Or has it? Last week, the government of Nunavut released a population survey of those very same bears. It was considerably more optimistic. It estimates the bear population on the western shore of Hudson Bay at 1,013, which is a lot higher than some thought. “The bear population is not in crisis as people believed,” said Drikus Gissing, Nunavut’s director of wildlife management.
This is awful news for the David Suzuki Foundation and other environmental groups that depend on the plight of the polar bear to raise money. After all, polar bears are even more photogenic than baby seals. The stakes are so high that polar-bear statistics are bitterly disputed.
Too Cute to Die? Experts Say We’re Too Selective About Species We Choose to Protect
Tom Spears, Postmedia News – Apr 23, 2012
OTTAWA — For endangered species, it pays to be a large mammal with sad eyes that cuddles its babies. Glamorous animals, big predators and, above all, the extremely cute and fuzzy stand a chance of getting people to protect them and their habitats.
Ugly animals — as judged by human eyes — are far more likely to be left aside when humans draw up conservation plans. Anyone care to save Ontario’s rattlesnakes?
Canadian ecology experts say such thinking means we’re in danger of re-shaping nature to beautify it according to human notions of what’s pretty, saving the mammals but letting the reptiles and amphibians disappear.
As for plants, they’re barely even on the list of candidates for protection.
This thought struck Ernie Small a couple of years ago at a conference on endangered species.
Small is a veteran research scientist at Agriculture Canada in Ottawa. He’s a plant specialist with a strong interest in ecology that doesn’t confine itself to farms.
Confronted with this notion that we’re selectively protecting species for all the wrong reasons, he produced a research paper, recently published in a science journal called Biodiversity.
His article is called The New Noah’s Ark, a reference to the Biblical story of Noah building a ship to save animals from drowning. But while Noah rescued everything in sight, Small says today’s conservation is for “beautiful and useful species only.”
There’s broad support for “marquee and poster species,” he writes: whales, pandas, polar bears, elephants.
[ Read More ]
Let’s Put the Hysteria Over Polar Bears on Ice
Postmedia News – April 17, 2012
What’s the deal with Canada’s polar bear populations? Are they threatened? On the verge of extinction? Or, could it be that they are just fine and maybe it’s time for mankind to move on to some other worrisome issue?
A new survey by the Nunavut government suggests that polar bear populations are stable, despite all the predictions and expectations of drastic declines.
According to Drikus Gissing, Nunavut’s director of wildlife management, there is “no gloom and doom” story and “this is not a crisis situation as a lot of people would like the world to believe.” In fact, he believes that Canada’s polar bear count “is likely the highest there has ever been.”
The survey shows a healthy bear population in what has been declared one of the most at-risk regions — the western Hudson Bay. An aerial count revealed a population of 1,013, a number that is not significantly different than a landmark 2004 study that counted 935 bears. However, the 2004 study had predicted the polar bear population would fall to 610 bears by 2011. That means the real number is 66 per cent higher than the predicted number.
As the Hudson Bay area is considered to be a bellwether region for all polar bear populations, it appears that this particular climate change canary is feeling just fine.
Naturally, the conclusions have been refuted by some scientists, but this report does substantiate a 2007 federal government study showing increasing numbers of polar bears in northern Quebec, Labrador and southern Baffin Island. Counts there jumped from 800 in the mid-1980s to about 2,100 in 2007.
A 2011 study by the Polar Bear Specialist Group of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature also reported that there had been no significant change in polar bear populations since 2007. Even the Obama administration admitted in December 2010 that polar bears are not an endangered species.
Province Wants Ottawa to Act on Proposed Russian Seal Ban
The Canadian Press – Posted: Dec 24, 2011
The Newfoundland and Labrador government says there will be huge implications for the province’s embattled sealing industry if Russia follows through on a plan to impose trade restrictions on importing harp seal pelts.
The provincial government issued a statement Friday saying the Canadian government should consider challenging Russia’s proposal through the World Trade Organization.
About 90 per cent of Canadian harp seal pelts — most of which come from Newfoundland and Labrador — are typically shipped to Russia, sometimes via Norway, the federal Fisheries Department says.
Earlier this week, the federal government confirmed trade restrictions on raw and tanned harp seal pelts could be in place as early as Jan. 1 in Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
The federal Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade appeared to be caught off guard Tuesday when the International Fund for Animal Welfare announced that it had obtained documents from the WTO showing Russia was imposing trade restrictions on harp seal pelts.
On Thursday, International Trade Minister Ed Fast issued a statement saying he had instructed his officials to express Canada’s concerns to their international counterparts, and to look for ways to make sure the industry continued to have access to the three markets.
[ Read More ]
Russia Banning Seal Products Says IFAW
The Canadian Press – Posted: Dec 20, 2011
Animal welfare activists say Canada’s embattled commercial sealing industry is threatened with imminent extinction because it is losing access to its largest market: the Russian Federation.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) said it has obtained a document from the World Trade Organization (WTO) that shows the federation has banned imports of all harp seal pelts.
“We were pretty excited to find the document,” said Sheryl Fink, director of IFAW’s anti-seal hunt program.
“We’ve got confirmation from our Russian office that this is in fact a trade ban. We’re curious to see how the government of Canada is going to respond to this. It should have a huge impact on the Canadian sealing industry.”
Fink said the ban represents a major victory in the IFAW’s 40-year campaign to persuade people that Canada’s seal hunt is inhumane and unnecessary.
Officials at the Russian Embassy in Ottawa did not return messages seeking comment. Canadian officials said they were aware of the document but could not confirm its authenticity.
[ Read More ]
4 Issues Keeping Polar Bears in the Spotlight
By Janet Davison, CBC News – Posted: Apr 9, 2012
They are majestic mammals that draw attention for everything from their fate as a species in the face of climate change to their ability to draw a crowd at a zoo.
Polar bears have been making headlines for several reasons lately, including for disputes over just how threatened they are as a species. In Canada, home to 60 per cent of the world’s 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears, they are considered a species of special concern whereas the U.S. has branded them a threatened species, which is one step closer to the most serious classification of endangered.
Here’s a look at four issues that have arisen recently concerning the animal.
Where are humans encountering polar bears more frequently?
Polar bears aren’t rare there, but they are tracking seals on pack ice that is particularly close to the northeastern Newfoundland shore this spring.
The unusual situation has prompted at least eight warnings about polar bears in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Officials have shot and killed two bears. One was shot after it stirred up trouble going from house to house in Goose Cove. Before that scavenging, the animal had wandered onto a farm where it killed a sheep, a lamb and two ducks.
Another bear was shot by the RCMP after it tried to make its way into a lighthouse on Puffin Island and then got to shore and into Greenspond.
[ Read More ]
Hudson Bay Polar Bear Numbers Increase
Slight gain over 2004 numbers despite warnings of possible population decline due to climate change.
CBC News – Posted: Apr 4, 2012
A recent aerial survey of Western Hudson Bay polar bears shows the population has increased slightly to about 1,000 animals, according to the Government of Nunavut.
In 2004, a mark-recapture survey done near Churchill, Man., estimated the Western Hudson Bay population at 935 bears, down from 1194 in 1988. A 2006 study hypothesized that if the climate continued to warm, the polar bear population would decline.
The latest survey used planes and helicopters to cover ground from Chesterfield Inlet, Nunavut, south to the Ontario border.
Drikus Gissing, director of wildlife with the Government of Nunavut, said the new numbers vindicate the Nunavut government’s recent decision to increase the area’s bear hunting quota. He also said it’s a clear recognition of the value of Inuit Traditional Knowledge.
[ Read More ]
Rex Murphy: On with the seal hunt!
Rex Murphy Jan 28, 2012
Pity the poor Newfoundlander: His province is now under siege by land and by sea.
I’ve written here before about the lumbering peril on the roads down in Newfoundland. Driving around the island can be something like a UFC fight between man and moose. Between the small second-hand car — a favourite mode of travel back home on The Rock — and the hairy mastodon (that would be the moose), there is no competition really.
On land, the moose are rampant. It is not safe to go out to the clothesline anymore, for fear of running into a moose or, more likely, a pack of the them — all antlers and dumb stares. Won’t be too long before they give up the woods and the boglands altogether as being too tangled or fetid for their delicate sensibilities, and start to put full roots down in the towns and villages.
It’s worse off-shore, except of course there’s none of us humans living in the ocean. But even if we wanted to — there’s no damn room. By some estimates, there are now 12- or 13-million rapacious seals slithering underwater all around the island — sucking up every piece of protein the sea has to offer, including of course the king of all food fish, the cod.
What, after all, is a seal? It is a set of the sharpest teeth entirely surrounded by hydrodynamic blubber — an eating machine.
I don’t think there has ever been this many seals off Newfoundland and Labrador, which ought to make some people ashamed of their eternal Save the Seals campaigns. These creatures were never in danger.
Polar Bear Encounters on the Rise in Some Nunavut Communities
CBC News; Oct 22, 2011
5 Arctic nations to meet this week in Iqaluit for conservation talks
Daisy Arnaquq of Qikiqtarjuaq says she is used to seeing polar bears on the hour-long boat ride to her cabin near the community on the southeast coast of Baffin Island.
In the last five years, she and her family would encounter about one polar bear per summer and “they would just take off right away,” she said.
But this year three different female bears with cubs paid them visits.
“The dogs would start barking, and we’d look out the window and see the mother with two cubs coming into our camp … It’s scary. You don’t know what they are going to do — attack you, destroy your property.”
She said bears are also showing up year-round in the community itself and the area where the sled dogs are kept, instead of just in the fall and early winter.
“That never used to happen,” said Arnaquq.
Internationally, three people have been killed by polar bears in the last three months, including a British teenager on Norway’s Spitsbergen island, a 33-year-old man in the eastern Russia region of Chukotka and a technician working at a weather station in Russia’s Franz Josef Land.
[ Read More ]
Record Fox Fur Prices Prompt N.W.T. Trapping Hopes
The Canadian Press; Sun Jan 22, 2012
— The Northwest Territories government is hoping record prices for fox fur pelts will encourage northern trappers to target the critters and keep a check on the burgeoning population.
The price doubled at a recent auction in North Bay, Ont., with cross fox pelts going for $100, more than triple the average price. White fox pelts went for $200 — up from $40 in previous years.
Francois Rossouw, with the territory’s Industry Department, said that kind of price for fox is unheard of.
“We really hope the prices will get people targeting foxes,” Rossouw said. “Every community in the North has their own resident fox it seems. Instead of having problem wildlife, we would prefer to have them harvest the foxes humanely and pelt them up properly and put them into the market.”
Fur has garnered above-average prices this year compared to years past, Rossouw said. Wild fox is particularly in demand from Chinese buyers.
China controls about 90 per cent of the market and has a large, growing middle-class that is starting to covet fur as a luxurious accessory, Rossouw said. Appetite for ranch fox has been growing and now that demand is spilling over into wild pelts.
Record prices might be enough to tempt trappers such as Fred Mandeville. The Hay River, N.W.T., man has been out on the traplines for more than 60 years. He said he’s never gone after foxes before.
“We don’t bother them,” Mandeville said. “They get caught sometimes in the trap.”
Trappers are more interested in catching lynx and marten — pelts that can bring up to $1 million into the territory annually, he said. That could change if prices for fox pelts stay high, Mandeville suggested. There are plenty of foxes around — especially closer to Yellowknife — and there are fewer lynx.
Prices would have to stay pretty high to make it worthwhile for trappers because the business is getting more expensive, he added.
“The price of gas is so high. That’s where the money goes most of the time. They use snow machines nowadays not like the old days…with dog teams. You didn’t have to worry about anything.”
[ Read More ]
Nunavut Government to Build Sealskin Inventory
CBC News; Jan 22, 2012
Goal is to save money, make it easier to supply tanned skins to community groups
The Nunavut government wants to build its inventory of tanned sealskins, in order to make it cheaper and easier to supply skins to community groups.
The territorial government has contracted a southern supplier to tan and store the skins from Nunavut so that bulk orders can be made on short notice and at a set price.
Wayne Lynch, the government’s fisheries and sealing director, said until now, the government would order skins as needed at whatever price was being offered.
“We get requests, of course, for skins for display purposes and loan them out. And so we just want to have a small inventory of skins that we can call upon for these events,” he said.
Lynch said the government has also supplied bulk orders of tanned sealskins to Arctic College and community sewing groups. He said he hopes the new system will save the government money.
[ Read More ]
Furlong | Death on the ice: Time to pull the plug on the seal hunt?
CBC News; Jan 21, 2012
The commercial seal industry is in major trouble, with collapsing markets and dwindling support
There’s no question in my mind that the commercial seal hunt is probably on the way out. So does anyone care?
The value of the Newfoundland and Labrador seal hunt all last year was less than $1.5 million. One million dollars directly, with another $400,000 in food, fuel, ammunition and other related spinoffs.
That might sound like a lot of money, but a busy department store in Corner Brook or a popular gas bar on the Trans-Canada Highway would do that in a month. In fact, the Costco box store in St. John’s took in $1 million in just one weekend before Christmas!
So what are we going to do about this vanishing commercial seal hunt? Despite our best efforts, despite the sealers’ struggle to make the industry the most humane and dignified possible, the war has been lost.
We have promoted the cultural significance, assessed and changed the way seals are killed, and we have advertised the benefits of both seals and the hunt.
We couldn’t overcome the massive public opinion juggernaut unleashed by animal rights groups. They have painted the seal hunt as cruel, barbaric, inhumane, economically feeble, and unsustainable. The world listened, and it’s unlikely we can ever recover from the damage of the bad press and misinformation.
Should we not talk about that? Is it wrong to even suggest that it might be time to examine the future of the seal hunt and the contribution it makes to the Newfoundland economy?
[ Read More ]
Canada’s Military Reverts to Real Fur Hats
OTTAWA, Oct. 5 (UPI)
Canada’s military is reverting to issuing real fur winter hats to soldiers, replacing synthetic tuques for winter use, the Department of Defense announced.
An initial order for 1,000 of the new “Yukon” hats with muskrat fur has been placed at a cost of $65,000, the Globe and Mail reported.
As late as the 1990s, female soldiers were issued winter hats made from mink and the ceremonial guard in Ottawa still wear the tall bearskin hats known as a “busby” by their British counterparts in London.
[ Read More ]
Polar Bear Gets ‘Species of Special Concern’ Status
The Canadian Press
Posted: Nov 10, 2011
The polar bear’s new status is one level below threatened and two levels below endangered under the Species at Risk Act.
The majestic but vulnerable polar bear has been formally declared a “species of special concern,” further driving a wedge between southern Canadians and many resource-dependant northerners.
“Species of concern” is one level below threatened and two levels below endangered under Canada’s Species at Risk Act.
The listing under the act requires a comprehensive management plan within three years, feeding some northerners’ fears that the already-limited bear hunt will be further restricted.
“Canada is home to two-thirds of the world’s polar bear population and we have a unique conservation responsibility to effectively care for them,” said Environment Minister Peter Kent. “Our government is demonstrating leadership in protecting this iconic species.
“Listing the polar bear under the Species at Risk Act represents an important contribution to protecting our environment and the animals that live in it.”
Scientists generally agree that polar bear populations have been increasingly threatened as global warming shrinks the Arctic icepack, effectively restricting their normal offshore hunting range.
Environment Canada consulted with provincial and territorial governments, regional wildlife management boards, aboriginals and other stakeholders before making Thursday’s declaration.
[ Read More ]
Ashley MacIsaac Takes on Animal Rights Activists
From Monday’s Globe and Mail – Sunday, Nov. 06, 2011
Over the years, celebrities like Paul McCartney, Pamela Anderson and Martin Sheen have protested the Canadian seal hunt. But sealers are now enjoying the rare thrill of having someone famous rally to their cause.
Fiddler Ashley MacIsaac challenged animal rights activists in Windsor, Ont., on Friday and declared his support for the seal hunt. He was sporting a fur coat and a pink hand-lettered sign, and said many people don’t understand what it is like to make a living on the ice.
The Canadian Sealers Association said his brief, one-man counter protest was a boost, and likened it to when former Governor-General Michaëlle Jean bit into a bloody hunk of raw seal heart on a trip to the North in 2009.
“It is a welcome sight to see someone recognize how we earn our living and are not afraid to say so. It is part of our history and part of our culture,” Frank Pinhorn, executive director of the association, said in an interview from St. John’s on Sunday.
“In Newfoundland and Labrador, we have been harvesting seals for 500 years, along with the cod. It is the reason we have settlements here in the first place.”
Mr. MacIsaac is from Cape Breton, but now lives in Windsor.
Feds to Put Polar Bears on At-Risk List
By: CTV News.ca Staff
Date: Wednesday Jul. 13, 2011 1:12 PM PT
The federal government is set to list polar bears under Canada’s species-at-risk legislation.
On July 2, Ottawa gave notice of the proposal to list the polar bear “as a species of special concern under the Species At Risk Act.”
The proposal is undergoing a 30-day public comment period.
A decision is anticipated to be made in November.
In an e-mail from Environment Canada’s spokesperson Mark Johnson, the ministry told CTV.ca on Wednesday that a “careful analysis of comments received” after the 30-day weigh-in period will be conducted before a final decision is made.
Presently, polar bears are not listed as endangered under the Species At Risk Act (SARA).
If the iconic mammal becomes listed as a “species of concern”, a plan would have to be enacted within the next three years in order to prevent the bear from becoming threatened.
The proposed listing comes almost three years after the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada suggested the bear be listed under SARA because of the likelihood the bear’s habitat will become threatened due to climate change.
The committee, which advises the government on threats facing animals across the country, said in its 2008 report that “although there is uncertainty over the overall impact of climate change on the species’ distribution and numbers, considerable concern exists over the future of this species in Canada.”
Not everyone, however, agrees with the committee’s assessment.
[ Read More ]
High Prices Leave The Polar Bear Population At Risk
Nicholas Kohler, May 25, 2011
In Search Of Big Profits, Hunters In Quebec Are Tracking Down Polar Bears At An Unsustainable Rate
Earlier this year, word began spreading among the Inuit families of the Belcher Islands, a treeless archipelago of rock and snow in Hudson Bay, that their cousins across the sea ice in Quebec had shot many dozens of polar bears this winter. For some in Nunavut, the rumour rankled. Hunters there must follow strict quotas governing the number of polar bears each community can harvest. Their cousins in northern Quebec, meanwhile, don’t.
At a time when polar bear hides are fetching between $5,000 and $11,000 at auction—double the price of just a couple of years ago—it was the kind of gossip that could only excite envy. “That means more income for them,” says Lucassie Arragutainaq, manager of a local Nunavut hunters and trappers association. A polite, cautious man who likes to stress the high cost of gas and ammunition in the north, Arragutainaq couldn’t say whether the number of polar bear kills in Quebec was as high as he’d heard: “It may be,” he allowed, “but I could be wrong.”
Actually, the number was even higher than initially reported. Hunters from the community of Inukjuak, Que., shot as many as 60 polar bears this winter, perhaps more—the official numbers aren’t yet released—all of them likely from a population centred in southern Hudson Bay that’s particularly at risk. The situation is this: high prices for polar bear skins on the world market is putting Canada’s oldest industry—the fur trade—on a collision course with what’s become the most potent symbol of global warming: the polar bear.
HK takes over as world’s fur trade hub
South China Morning Post
Feb 27, 2011
A subtropical city of seven million as the world’s fur hub? Surely not.
Yet, from a small start 30 years ago, when Hong Kong’s furriers began selling people in China’s remote northeast one of their first luxuries – fur coats – the city has, almost overnight, become the trade’s capital.
Hong Kong now handles 70 per cent of the trade in raw furs and 80 per cent of the world’s processed furs, according to a United States Department of Agriculture report.
Like a lot of the city’s recent business successes, the mainland is the key to the story. Between 2000 and 2009 its fur imports more than doubled in value, from US$165 million to US$463 million. And in 2009 alone, its exports of fur products rose 47 per cent year on year, to US$1.3 billion. Domestic production has rocketed.
Just five years ago, Russia – a natural market for furs and with a population of more than 150 million – was still the biggest importer of mainland furs. Now Hong Kong has taken over.
Traders attending the Hong Kong International Fur and Fashion Fair in Wan Chai this weekend agreed with the US government report that the fur market had been reborn a decade ago thanks to the mainland.
But Tim Everest, spokesman for the show’s organisers, the Hong Kong Fur Federation, said the city had always played a key part in the Chinese fur market.
“Back in the 1980s when China was just opening up, Hong Kong furriers already saw this opportunity. They suddenly gave these people in the northeast of China a way to show their wealth. It was almost the first real luxury to hit the store.”
[ Read More ]
Seal Product Trade to Benefit from Canada-China Negotiations
Ottawa, January 12, 2011 – Members of the Fur Institute of Canada and its Seals and Sealing Network applauded the Government of Canada today for negotiating a trade agreement with China to open new markets for Canadian seal products. The new agreement, initialed by Federal Fisheries and Oceans Minister Gail Shea, allows Canadian trade to China in seal meat and oil products on the condition that the products meet China’s food quality standards for human consumption.
“We thank the Government of Canada for having the foresight to seek this agreement,” said Rob Cahill, Executive Director of the Fur Institute of Canada. “Negotiation of quality standards for the harvesting and handling of seals provides an excellent opportunity to prove the value of the seal trade as a sustainable and responsible way of living.”
The terms of the new agreement were reached between the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and China’s Administration of Quality Supervision. It will allow the expansion of seal product exports to China beyond the fur markets to which Canadian industry already has access. The new agreement, which takes effect immediately, will provide new market opportunities beginning with the 2011 Canadian seal hunt.
Quick Facts on Seals and Sealing in Canada
- The Northwest Atlantic Harp Seal population is abundant and well conserved, numbering 9.5 million animals – the highest level ever scientifically estimated. Since the 1970’s, the population has multiplied by 4-5 times. The World Conservation Union (IUCN) lists harp seals as a species of “least concern”.
- Hunting methods required by licensed Canadian seal hunters are effective and conform to established practices of animal welfare. These methods were implemented in 2009 and are based on recommendations by the Independent Veterinarians’ Working Group (IVWG 2005).
- Seal meat and seal oil (rendered from fat), provide a sustainable source of protein and a superior source of Omega-3 essential fatty acids for human consumption. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency certifies production facilities, inspects products and issues export certificates.
- Seal hides, or “pelts” are handled locally in Canada, where they are tanned into high-quality materials for both domestic use and export.
For further information, please contact:
Rob Cahill, Executive Director, Fur Institute of Canada
The Seals and Sealing Network operates under the Fur Institute of Canada, a national non-profit organization promoting sustainable and wise use principles. The Seals and Sealing Network is committed to the conservation and respectful harvesting of the world’s seal species through sound scientific management and internationally accepted sustainable use practices. It comprises government, Inuit, veterinarians, conservationists, health care practitioners and Industry representatives. For more information, please go to www.fur.ca or www.sealsandsealing.net.
Sustainability – 2008 to 2010
For more reading, please view our Sustainability – 2008 to 2010 archive.