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News/Blog

B.C. government asking for approval to kill wolves

The B.C. government is seeking a five-year approval for a continued wolf cull program, which if granted would total 12 years of killing wolves in a bid to recover caribou herds decimated by habitat destruction. Since the B.C. government started killing wolves in 2015, 1,429 wolf lives were taken by aerial weapon use.

Scientists confirm there is no statistical support for this measure and that the study used to support this policy is flawed.

The government survey is running until November 15. You can take the short survey here: https://engage.gov.bc.ca/caribou/feedback-form/

Credit: We Animals

Tips on filling out the survey

For tips on filling out the survey, consider the following suggested responses to support humane conservation efforts:

PageQuestionSuggested response
1N/AReview as desired, scroll to bottom, click “Take the survey
2N/AReview as desired, scroll to bottom, click “Next”
31. Since the 1990s, B.C.’s caribou population has declined from 40,000 to approximately 15,000. What do you consider to be the three greatest causes of this population decline?Responses related to habitat destruction and urbanization
2. How important is the recovery of caribou in B.C. to you?“Very important”
3. Why is caribou recovery important to you?Respond as relevant
41. Do you spend time in areas where predator reduction for caribou recovery is being considered?Respond as relevant
2. Are you aware of the reasons the Province of B.C. states for the need to reduce predators to recover caribou?“Yes”
3. Do you agree predator reduction is a necessary action for caribou recovery?“Strongly disagree”
3a. If you disagree with predator reduction for caribou recovery, please tell us why?“It is inhumane”; “Other” responses can indicate there is no statistical support for this measure
4. Are there any herds that you feel should be added to or removed from predator reduction for caribou recovery?Respond as relevant
5. What other caribou recovery actions do you feel are important to implement?Responses indicating habitat related actions first, and conservation breeding/maternal penning/predator reduction last
All remaining questionsRespond as relevant & complete the survey

Thank you for taking the time to speak up for wolves!

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News/Blog

Support a full ban on rodenticides in B.C.

B.C. bans some rodenticides, but more action is needed to protect animals

Effective July 21, 2021, the B.C. government enacted an 18-month ban on second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs), citing the serious risk they pose to the public, pets and wildlife. This means SGARs cannot be used in or around most residential buildings, offices, parks, schools, or non-food retail shops.

These highly toxic rodent poisons cause a slow and painful death for the rodents that consume them and can severely injure or kill any scavengers, predators or pets who encounter the poisoned rodents. In fact, B.C.-based Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society (OWL) noted that a few years ago a blood test study found that more than half of the animals in their care had poison residue in their system. VHS welcomes this 18-month SGAR ban as a first step and is calling on the B.C. government to take further action to address rodenticide use across the province.

Details of SGAR ban

The SGAR ban is specific to poisonous baits containing brodifacoum, bromadiolone or difethialone. Use of SGARs is now prohibited, but with a long list of exemptions for what the government has deemed to be essential services, as well as agricultural operators.

Essential services are categorized as public health and safety; critical infrastructure; food supply; transportation; sanitation; communications and information technology; and mortuary services. For specific business types that qualify as exempt from the ban, visit the B.C. government website.

Given the list of exemptions, including in locations where there is a lot of active wildlife such as at a garbage dump or recycling facility, it remains to be seen how effective this ban will be at significantly reducing the widespread use of SGARs and their negative impacts.

While the use of SGARs for non-essential services is prohibited, the ban does not prohibit other dangerous rodenticides from being used. This includes first-generation anticoagulants (FGARs), such as chlorophacinone, diphacinone, and warfarin, and neurotoxins, such as bromethalin. These rodenticides pose a similar threat to the public, pets and wildlife.

What’s next?

VHS is advocating for the B.C. government to ban all rodenticides and to reassess and shorten the list of exempt users. VHS recommends that the remainder of the 18-month temporary SGAR ban be used to plan the phase out of rodenticides, in favour of humane alternatives for lethal management and preventative measures that address the underlying causes of conflict with rodents. VHS encourages the B.C. government to prioritize and invest in research around new and emerging humane alternatives and set goals and targets for shifting away from rodenticide use overall.

It’s also crucial that the government proactively enforce the current SGAR ban to ensure prohibited rodenticides are removed in a timely manner from locations where they are no longer permitted. The government must also take steps to educate the public about these restrictions and how to identify what is in bait boxes. 

Actions you can take

1) Add your signature below, in support of VHS’s request that the B.C. Ministry of Environment take additional action to ban rodenticides. VHS will deliver a summary report, including a letter outlining our recommendations and the total number of public signatures, to the Environment Ministry’s Integrated Pest Management Unit.

2) Help raise awareness within the community about the current SGAR poisons ban:

Share this link to the B.C. government’s website, outlining the details of the ban. Send it to your strata or building manager, the principal and other school administrators at your school, the building manager at your office, and anyone else who should be made aware of the ban.

3) Support citizen science projects related to rodenticides:

Identify and report the use of banned rodenticides:

  • Be on the lookout for black bait boxes, often found around the outside perimeter of buildings, as well as inside of buildings. If the bait box contains a rodenticide, a label identifying the active ingredient or its registration number, along with the contact information for the pest control company, should be on the outside of the container lid. Note: The presence of a bait box does not necessarily mean SGAR poisons are being used, as bait boxes may contain snap traps or other products.
  • If the active ingredient noted on the label is brodifacoum, bromadiolone, or difethialone and the bait box is not in a location that is exempt from the ban (see the complete list of exemptions), please document the following in order to file a report: take photos of the outside of the bait box, label and surrounding location. Please also note the date, time and location. If there is no label noting the active ingredient, please take the same steps to file a report. Note: Do not tamper with bait boxes.

Report dead wild birds:

  • Report wild bird deaths to the B.C. government’s wild bird mortality hotline at 1-866-431-BIRD (2473). Click here for more information.
  • Support citizen science being done to track wild bird deaths by contacting Deanna Pfeifer at dgpfeifer@shaw.ca. Please take photos or videos of the deceased bird and note the date and location. Follow the steps outlined here to safely handle and store the bird.
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News/Blog

5 activities to help children love animals

Looking for animal-friendly activities for kids? Try these 5 activities to help your children develop a love of animals!

There is something special about the bond between children and animals.

Children are fascinated by animals; they are able to connect with them on an emotional level and empathize with their perspective. Having empathy for animals helps children to grow in a number of ways. Children who learn to respect animals also:

  • develop a respect for other lives
  • learn to read nonverbal cues
  • develop lifelong compassion

But how can parents and caregivers help children foster a love of animals?

This question has come up recently in the Lower Mainland, where the City of New Westminster launched a public consultation seeking feedback and ideas from residents for alternatives to the Queen’s Park petting farm. This is a great move toward more animal-friendly public spaces; you can read more about why replacing the petting farm is a win for animal welfare and public health and safety in our latest blog post.

Luckily, there are many ways for children to develop empathy for animals outside of petting farms. Keep reading for more ideas!

1. Go for a wildlife walk

Two young children looking out at seagulls on the ocean.

New Westminster and the rest of the Lower Mainland are filled with beautiful walking trails! You can also spot many species of urban wildlife like squirrels and pigeons around the city. Try visiting a local trail or park to look for birds, squirrels, frogs, and other small wildlife.

Seeing wild animals can give children the same sense of wonder as seeing captive ones—without causing animal suffering. Bonus: this activity has an added educational element! Viewing wildlife from a distance helps children to understand that humans share our environment with many animals who should be given space and respect.

2. Watch a wildlife webcam

Rubbing Beach – Underwater powered by EXPLORE.org

See for yourself what it looks like when the orcas in British Columbia’s Johnstone Strait take part in the unique behavior called “beach rubbing.” Watch live…

Looking to learn about other ecosystems and animals a little farther from home? There are many webcams set up around the world to observe wildlife in their natural habitats, like this daily live safari or these orca cameras right here in B.C.

Talk about what the animals are doing, such as looking for food to eat or caring for their babies. Caregivers can also introduce children to the concept of conservation by explaining that it’s important to have spaces in nature where animals can live free.

3. Visit a farm sanctuary

A happy toddler pets a calf at a farm sanctuary

If you’re able to travel a little farther, consider visiting a farm sanctuary or even volunteering! Farm sanctuaries value compassion for all living beings, so children can learn about having empathy for animals and creating a kinder world. You can find a map of farm sanctuaries near you from P.E.A.C.E.

If you don’t have the chance to take a day trip, you can still learn all about farm sanctuaries and meet some of the animals with this informative video from The Happy Herd.

4. Interact with companion animals

A girl lies on the floor with a dog

Having companion animals at home is a great way for children to learn to care for another life. However, not everyone can have animals in their home. If you are able to, consider visiting or meeting up with a friend and their companion animal so your child can meet and interact with them. Families with older children can also check whether their local animal shelter has youth volunteer opportunities.

Interacting with companion animals can help children to learn social skills like nonverbal cues. For instance, teaching a child that a dog wants to be patted when she is nuzzling, sniffing them, and wagging her tail; or that she wants her own space when she begins to walk away.

5. Read stories with animal characters

Storytime with Esther T.W. Pig: The True Adventures of Esther the Wonder Pig

Relax, sit down, and have a listen to “The True Adventures of Esther the Wonder Pig”. You can also check out a digital copy of the book, FREE of charge, on o…

Children do not need to touch or even see animals to love them—just ask any kid who is obsessed with dinosaurs! Books do a great job of helping children empathize with characters they would not necessarily meet in their day to day life, including animals. Here are some of our favourite children’s books with animal characters:

  • The True Adventures of Esther the Wonder Pig (recommended for ages 4-8 years)
  • Charlotte’s Web (recommended for ages 7-10 years)
  • Black Beauty (recommended for ages 8-12 years)

After you read with your child, you can help them understand even more about the animal in the story by looking up child-friendly facts about that species.

Looking for more animal-friendly activities for kids?

Find more resources to help children learn about animals on the Vancouver Humane Society website.

Categories
Opinion Editorial

It’s an inconvenient truth that fish are sentient and feel pain

Article originally published in The Georgia Straight.

Ready for another inconvenient truth?  Here’s one: fish feel pain, are sentient, and are far more intelligent than we thought.

Even more inconvenient—we need to do something about it.

The scientific evidence that fish are sentient (able to feel and perceive things) has been piling up over the past few decades, but this information, much less its implications, has yet to permeate public consciousness.

When people think of fish, it’s usually as food, sport, or something to look at in an aquarium. Are we ready to accept that fish have feelings?

There is now a scientific consensus that fish feel pain. Research has shown that, like mammals, they have pain receptors (nociceptors) that detect injury. And, although their nervous systems and brains are different from ours, they are capable of experiencing pain. Studies have found that fish change their behaviour when subjected to a painful event and that painkillers prevent that behaviour, indicating that they are suffering, not just physically reacting to a negative stimulus.

In her groundbreaking 2010 book Do Fish Feel Pain?, biologist Victoria Braithwaite summed up her view on the issue: “I have argued that there is as much evidence that fish feel pain and suffer as there is for birds and mammals—and more than there is for human neonates and preterm babies.”

But fish can feel more than pain. Research has shown they can experience feardepression, and pleasure. The case for fish sentience has been eloquently made by Jonathan Balcombe in his book What a Fish Knows, which he says he was inspired to write “when I became aware of fascinating scientific discoveries about fishes that revealed rich, complex lives, and I realized how very little of this information was reaching the public consciousness”.

Many scientists now subscribe to such views. Culum Brown, a biologist at MacQuarie University in Australia who has studied fish cognition and behaviour for 25 years, has said, “You should think about fish in the same way you think about a pig or a cow.”

Evidence for fish intelligence is also well established. One remarkable example is the cognitive ability of the frillfin goby, a small fish frequently trapped in rock pools when the tide goes out. Often, the gobies jump from pool to pool, but how do they know where the next pool is and how far to jump? Scientists have researched this question for a number of years, concluding that the gobies are able to make a mental map of the positions of the pools so they know exactly where to jump. So much for the myth that fish have a three-second memory.

Studies have found that fish use toolsrecognize other fish, and can recognize themselves in a mirror (an ability previously thought to be confined to humans and a few other animals such as primates and dolphins.)

Our image of fish as dead-eyed, silent, scaly creatures makes it hard to regard them as intelligent beings with feelings, but the science cannot be ignored. We need to change the way we think about fish.

That means thinking about fish welfare. We give many other animals—dogs, cats, farm animals, terrestrial wildlife—at least some measure of welfare protection under the law or through regulation. Fish get almost none.

Improving their welfare is challenging, but there are steps that consumers, government, and industry can take.

As vegetarians and vegans will argue, the best step is to stop eating fish and switch to a plant-based diet. It’s an ethical choice that would also reduce the consumption that has led to 90 percent of the world’s marine fish stocks being fully exploited, overexploited, or depleted.

For those who do eat fish, there are few humane choices. Hooks hurt. Fish suffocate when they are hauled out of the water. Some pioneering fishers have invested in technology to stun fish within seconds of being brought aboard, but such methods are rare in the fishing industry.

Fish farms are notorious for poor fish welfare and environmental problems, but the development of Canada’s first code of practice for farmed salmonids is a sign that fish welfare is starting to be taken seriously.

Such developments may take years to have a significant impact on fish welfare. They need support and investment from government and industry.

In the meantime, it’s best to leave fish off your plate.

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News/Blog

Support a ban on cruel wildlife poisons

Show your support for banning inhumane and indiscriminate wildlife poisons

UPDATE – July 21, 2021

Following a meeting between VHS, other animal advocacy groups, and B.C. decision-makers, the provincial government has announced a temporary restriction on second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides—the most toxic type of rodent poisons.

During the 18-month restriction, the government will conduct a review of alternative rodent control methods. Thank you for advocating to protect B.C. wildlife!

Here is how you can continue to support a ban on rodenticides in B.C.:

1.      If you have not yet signed, add your name to the pledge below. VHS will continue to highlight the widespread support for a ban on rodenticides in meetings with the provincial government.

2.      Double your impact by sharing this page with your friends and family!

3.      Make a donation to VHS so we can continue this vital animal advocacy work. All donations will support VHS’s work building a kinder world for animals.

Original post:

Wildlife poisons have become a growing animal welfare, environmental and public safety concern in recent years. The baited poisons, used to address conflicts with unwanted wildlife, cause a slow and painful death for the animals that consume them. They also have a wider ecosystem impact and can contribute to secondary or non-target poisoning of countless other animals, including birds of prey, scavengers and even domestic pets.

Every year, stories of poisoned wildlife and domestic animals make news headlines, and those stories are just a small glimpse of a much more widespread problem. In fact, B.C.-based Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society (OWL) noted that a few years ago a blood test study found that more than half of the animals in their care had poison residue in their system.

Growing public awareness surrounding this issue has led to increased calls for a ban of these poisons. A recent federal House of Commons e-petition is calling on the Canadian government to ban three common poisons used to control predators. In B.C., close to 20 municipalities have passed motions to address rodent poisons on municipal property and the provincial government is being encouraged to ban rodenticides across B.C.

Take Action

1. Join VHS, other organizations, and advocates in calling on the B.C. government and municipalities to ban rodenticides. Take the pledge below to show your support! For more information about this issue please see the rodenticide fact sheet and shared briefing note.

2. The official federal House of Commons e-petition is calling for a ban on three common predator poisons (strychnine, compound 1080, and sodium cyanide). The e-petition is now closed. Stay tuned for updates!

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News/Blog

Poisons continue to threaten wildlife across B.C.

Poisons continue to threaten wildlife across B.C. Join us in calling for an immediate ban.

A golden eagle is finally back in the wild after a very close call with wildlife poisons. The beautiful bird was rescued from a Grand Forks backyard and taken to the South Okanagan Rehabilitation Centre for Owls (SORCO). There, staff gave him an antidote in the nick of time; in another hour, they said, he may not have been able to recover.

In an interview with Global News, SORCO manager Dale Belvedere said that she couldn’t trace the exact source of the golden eagle’s poisoning, “But I would say some sort of rodenticide because he did react very quickly to the antidote. If it was lead poisoning, we’re talking a totally different antidote and he wouldn’t have reacted as he did.”

Rodenticides are a type of wildlife poison used to target rodents. The highly toxic substances cause a slow and painful death for the animals that ingest them—and as in the case of the Grand Forks golden eagle, those animals are often not the only victims. Birds of prey like owls and hawks, scavengers like crows and raccoons, and even domestic pets are all at risk of secondary poisoning from eating poisoned mice and rats.

Though this golden eagle was in rough shape after his rescue, he has now made a full recovery and has since been released. Countless other birds of prey are not so lucky, like an entire family of owls on Vancouver Island that was completely wiped out by wildlife poisons recently.

Photo: Gyl Anderson

The team at MARS Wildlife Rescue tried to save this poisoned owlet, but sadly she passed away.

The team at MARS Wildlife Rescue were called in to rescue an owlet found alone in a nest whose parents were deceased below the tree. The owlet, who was weak and lethargic, was rushed to the centre for treatment for suspected rodenticide poisoning, but sadly she did not survive. “We are devastated by the loss of an entire family of Great Horned Owls and it is disheartening to know that this is the reality that many owl families face since rodenticides are still legal to use and widely available in B.C.,” says Gylaine Andersen, Manager of Wildlife Rehabilitation at MARS Wildlife Rescue Centre. “Even young owls that have not yet learned to fly and hunt can be poisoned when they are fed contaminated meat by their doting parents. It is a tragedy that is easily preventable.”

“We are devastated by the loss of an entire family of Great Horned Owls and it is disheartening to know that this is the reality that many owl families face since rodenticides are still legal to use and widely available in B.C.”
Gylaine Andersen, MARS Wildlife Rescue Centre
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Stories like this are why VHS is calling for a ban on inhumane and indiscriminate rodenticides in B.C.

Thanks to the support of people like you, we are making progress on this effort. To date, more than 2,100 VHS supporters have pledged their support for a province-wide ban on rodenticides.

We recently pointed to this growing support in a productive meeting with a variety of concerned stakeholders, including other wildlife advocates, representatives from the District of North Vancouver and Minister Murray Rankin’s office, and North Vancouver-Seymour MLA Susie Chant. We look forward to continuing this important discussion around the need for a province-wide ban of these dangerous poisons. Each pledge makes a difference as we advance this issue with decision-makers from local municipalities and the province; but we still have a long way to go to protect animals.

Take Action

If you have not yet taken the pledge, we invite you to add your name and join VHS, other organizations, and advocates in calling on the B.C. government and municipalities to ban rodenticides. Pledge numbers will be referred to in meetings with local and provincial decision-makers. For more information about this issue, please see the rodenticide fact sheet and our shared briefing note.

You can double your impact by sharing this page using the buttons below. Together, we can protect B.C. wildlife.

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Speak up for animals on fur farms

Call for a ban on fur farming across Canada

Send a message to your B.C. MLA

Recent media reports of the spread of COVID-19 on B.C. mink farms has exposed the cruelty and danger inherent in the province’s fur farming industry.  Please send a message to your MLA to urge a ban on this unnecessary and inhumane industry.

Industrialized fur farms in B.C. confine thousands of mink in cramped conditions that deprive them of the opportunity to engage in natural behaviours.  Mink are semi-aquatic animals yet they are held in tiny wire cages without access to water for foraging. A cage for a single female mink measures only 8 inches (width) by 15 inches (height).

Mink spend their entire lives caged until they are killed in gas chambers filled with carbon monoxide. All this is for the sake of making products for the fashion and cosmetics industry.

Video footage of Canadian fur farms obtained by The Fur-Bearers has shown animals exhibiting self-mutilation, cannibalism and repetitive behaviours caused by the stress of confinement.

In addition to the fur industry’s cruelty, there is a threat to public health, as outbreaks of COVID-19 emerge on mink farms around the world.  Here in B.C., the virus has been found on two mink farms, with infections occurring in both animals and farm workers. Scientists fear that such outbreaks could lead to dangerous mutations of the virus. Escaped mink from farms are a potential threat to wild populations, increasing the chance of further virus mutation and spread.

Now is the time for the provincial and federal governments to end the cruel and dangerous fur farming industry. This is also an opportunity for government to support farmers in transitioning to humane, healthy and sustainable alternatives, such as plant-based agriculture.

Please take the two actions below to support a fur farming ban at both the provincial and federal levels.

Sign the House of Commons e-petition calling on the federal government to introduce a Canada-wide ban on fur farming.

The federal e-petition is now closed. Stay tuned for updates!

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News/Blog

Ask the Prime Minister to end the wildlife trade

Please urge the Prime Minister to close wildlife markets and end the international and domestic trade in wild animals

A House of Commons E-petition is calling on the Prime Minister to “to support and encourage the closure of wildlife markets globally that could become sources for future pandemics and to commit to end the international and domestic trade in wild animals and their products that could aid in the spread of zoonotic diseases.” The petition is sponsored by Michelle Rempel Garner MP.

Despite calls from experts to take more action against the global wildlife trade, which scientists believe is the most likely source of Covid-19, there has been virtually no response from Canada. That’s a shame, as there is plenty Canada could do to combat this cruel trade and improve our own safeguards against diseases from imported wildlife.

We’re urging Canadians to sign the E-petition, which is in line with campaigns by VHS and other organizations opposing the cruel and dangerous trade in wild and exotic animals. Last year, VHS launched a campaign calling on federal ministers to engage with international partners to ban the trade; devote more resources to fight the illegal wildlife trade; and to improve Canada’s systems for detecting imported wildlife diseases.  We also signed an open letter to the Prime Minister urging him to support a permanent global ban on wildlife markets.

We have also been working to bring this issue to the attention of Canadians, publishing opinion editorials in the Ottawa Citizen, Daily Hive, Georgia Straight, and Vancouver Sun.

With your support we can continue to encourage the federal government to take action against the wildlife trade.

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Opinion Editorial

Canada needs to take the threat of disease from wildlife seriously

Article originally published in The Province.

Despite calls from experts to take action against the global wildlife trade, which scientists believe is a likely source of COVID-19, the response from national governments has been muted and mixed, with virtual silence from Canada. That’s a shame, as there is plenty Canada could do to improve our own safeguards against diseases from imported wildlife.

Whatever the precise source of COVID-19 might be, the science has been clear for years that zoonotic disease (disease transmitted from animals to humans) from wildlife is a serious threat, accounting for at least 70 per cent of all emerging diseases. And that threat is not just from the much-discussed wet markets in Asia. It’s from a legal global trade worth US$300 billion and an illegal trade worth US$23 billion, both of which involve and affect Canada. Yet there are questions about the coherence and effectiveness of Canada’s defences against disease from imported wildlife.

Currently, responsibility for keeping Canadians safe from foreign zoonotic diseases is spread across several government agencies, including the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), which are in turn networked with a myriad of other bodies, such as the Canadian Animal Health Surveillance System and the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative.

A 2016 study criticized this system, stating: “Canada lacks a coherent and effective regulatory framework to address emerging zoonotic diseases,” arguing that “there are gaps in disease surveillance, wildlife health concerns are not given due priority, risk assessment processes do not explicitly consider the impact of human action on wildlife health, and there is insufficient collaboration between government sectors.”

There also appear to be loopholes in the CFIA’s system for controlling which animals are allowed into the country. For example, the agency does not inspect reptiles (except turtles and tortoises) imported into Canada. As its website states, “there is no Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) requirement to obtain an import permit, nor a health certificate. Under normal circumstances, there are no border inspections. Imports are permitted from any country, for any use, to any destination in Canada.”

Yet, reptiles are known to carry zoonotic diseases. Snakes were an early suspect in the research into the source of COVID-19, although they’ve since been ruled out.

The CFIA also says rodents (with some exceptions) can be imported into Canada without an import permit, health certificate, or inspection. So, for example, someone could import capybaras, the world’s largest rodents, into Canada, despite the fact they are known to carry dangerous ticks and have been known to shed coronaviruses. They are also sold online as pets.

The CFIA’s surveillance system is reactive rather than preventative, relying on prior intelligence indicating that a specific animal is a disease carrier. The system’s weakness was demonstrated when Canada prohibited pet Gambian rats from entering the country four months after they caused an outbreak of Monkeypox in the United States in 2003. Before the outbreak became manifest, the CFIA would have allowed the rats into Canada. Use of the precautionary principle, in the form of a ban on exotic pet imports, would be a far better safeguard.

Another concern is the lack of resources Canada devotes to fighting the illegal wildlife trade, one of a number of tasks given to the federal Wildlife Enforcement Directorate. According to a 2017 article in Canadian Geographic, the directorate had only 75 field officers nationwide. The article quotes the head of the directorate on the continued rise in wildlife crime: “And when you couple that with downward trends in government spending, that means more work for us and fewer resources to do it.” A 2017 survey of the directorate’s employees found that 65 per cent felt the quality of their work suffered because of “having to do the same or more work, but with fewer resources.”

Clearly, Canada must take the threat of disease from the wildlife trade more seriously. It needs a coherent regulatory framework to address the threat from zoonotic diseases. It needs to ban the import of wild and exotic animals and it needs to devote more resources to stop wildlife smuggling.

In July 2003, the medical journal The Lancet described the wild animal trade as “a disaster ignored” and called for its end. The warning went unheeded and that disaster is now upon us. Let’s not make the same mistake again.

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News/Blog

Update: A win for owls and bears!

Update: A win for owls and bears!


The B.C. government has agreed to permanently halt logging in the Dakota Ridge area on the Sunshine Coast. The decision was announced in early March in a joint government/Skwxwu7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) press release. The area had been part of a plan by B.C. Timber Sales (the B.C. government agency that regulates logging on public land) to allow logging in area, which could have destroyed black bear dens that are concentrated on the ridge. Elphinstone Logging Focus, a local conservation group campaigning against the logging plan, reported on the win.

Meanwhile, the Spô’zêm Nation and environmental groups leading the campaign against planned logging in the Fraser Canyon have announced that the government has put the plan on hold. The logging would have threatened spotted owl habitat.

Thank you to the more than 2,300 VHS supporters who sent the following message to the B.C. Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development and to everyone who worked for these important wins for animals.

“I am writing to ask you to stop planned logging on the Sunshine Coast and in the Fraser Canyon that threatens the habitats of black bears and spotted owls.

Specifically, I’m asking that you halt a plan by B.C. Timber Sales to allow logging in the Dakota Ridge area of the Sunshine Coast that could destroy black bear dens that are concentrated on the ridge. Studies have shown that logging in the area would destroy up to 28 dens in two cut blocks. The forest on Dakota Ridge has some of the oldest trees in Canada, which provide ideal dens for black bears when they rot out at the base.

In addition, the provincial government has approved clearcut logging in the Fraser Canyon, which is a habitat for highly endangered northern spotted owls. The spotted owl has been listed as endangered under the federal Species at Risk Act since 2003. I urge you to reconsider approval for this logging, which is a clear threat to this vulnerable species.

British Columbians value these animals and we expect the provincial government to protect them. Please take action to ensure their habitats are not destroyed by this ill-considered exploitation of B.C.’s forests.”

Campaign Background:

Spotted owl habitat under threat

The online magazine The Narwhal reports that the provincial government has approved clearcut logging in the Fraser Canyon, which is a habitat for highly endangered northern spotted owls.

Citing maps produced by the Wilderness Committee, the Narwhal report states that the B.C. government has “issued more than 300 logging approvals — totaling almost 2,000 hectares — in the spotted owl’s range from October 2018 to May 2020…” The spotted owl has been listed as endangered under the federal Species at Risk Act since 2003.

Black bear dens would be destroyed

The Narwhal also reported that a plan by B.C. Timber Sales (the B.C. government agency that regulates logging on public land) to allow logging in the Dakota Ridge area of the Sunshine Coast could destroy black bear dens that are concentrated on the ridge. A study cited by the magazine concluded that logging in the area would destroy up to 28 dens in two cut blocks (areas authorized for logging).

The forest on Dakota Ridge has some of the oldest trees in Canada, which provide ideal dens for black bears when they rot out at the base. The area also provides the bears with plentiful blueberries and fresh water.