Inuit live among polar bears. So it baffles me when well-meaning people who have never seen a polar bear outside a zoo or cruise ship or glass-walled buggy seek to impose rules to govern how Inuit interact with bears, to determine how we should engage in a cycle of life that has allowed both Inuit and polar bears to survive for thousands of years.
But within communities of passionate wildlife advocates, few topics are as divisive as the perception of wildlife photography. And for good reason. Yes, at times wildlife photography can hurt the subjects we're trying to capture. But seeing bears in the wild is a remarkable experience and positive bear (and wildlife) encounters are critical to creating a culture that appreciates and supports balanced conservation.
For those of us who are interested in the field of conservation biology, this time of year prompts us to be more thoughtful about lists of a different kind: the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada ceremoniously completes a review of (in overly simplified terms) Canada's endangered species list at the end of each year.
Her name's Melissa Bachman. She kills wild animals on American TV for a living. Sometimes with a rifle, sometimes with bow and arrow. Then she killed a full-maned male lion, and posted a picture of herself, cradling her rifle, laughing triumphantly, while the once-magnificent lion sprawled dead at her feet. And all hell broke loose.
It was around 10:30 a.m. on a Friday this past June that a close friend and wildlife enthusiast, Mohan was driving me down the winding hills of Ooty -- a hill station in southern India. Suddenly, there was a distress call from a forest warden desperately trying to save an elephant. It had slipped and fallen into a two-metre deep trench.
While the black bear is common in some urban areas -- with sightings even in Vancouver's suburbs as the bears search for ripe fruit from the trees and troll the recycling bins -- the grizzly bear is British Columbia's wilderness giant. Visiting with grizzlies in the wild had long been a dream of mine, and this spring we decided to head up the coast to see if we could view some of BC's iconic mammals.
Despite rhetoric about conservation, the main thrust of B.C.'s wolf management plan is clearly killing predators with the goal of reducing predator impacts on huntable species like moose, elk and deer, plus contributing to a presumed reduction in livestock conflicts on public lands. Any rational review of the impact of wolves on B.C.'s hunting opportunities, as well as livestock industry, would demonstrate that there is no "problem" in need of solving. Rationality, however, long ago ceased to be the currency of wildlife management policy in B.C.