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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 & sign the federal House of Commons e-petition

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.

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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.

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Uncategorized

We’re fighting the wildlife trade

VHS launched two campaigns against the cruel and dangerous wildlife trade this spring.

The trade is not only cruel and damaging to biodiversity, but also poses a threat of zoonotic disease (diseases transmitted from animals to humans).

In April, we started an online petition calling on the B.C. government to strengthen regulation of the sale and ownership of wild and exotic animals in the province. The petition, which gained nearly 3500 signatures, has been forwarded to B.C.’s Wildlife and Habitat Branch, which is due to review the regulations this year. VHS had two opinion editorials published in local media to draw public attention to the issue.

In late May, we launched a similar campaign, this time urging the federal government to do more to combat the wildlife trade. We urged 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. 

The federal campaign is ongoing and supporters can join us in sending an e-message to the government.

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News/Blog

Poisoned owl rescued by VHS supporter

Update: District of North Vancouver votes to ban rodenticides!

District of North Vancouver Council has voted to ban anticoagulant rodenticides on district-owned properties. The unanimous vote on June 15 approved Councillor Megan Curren’s proposal for a ban. 

Thank you to everyone who wrote to the council and signed the petition by VHS supporter Yasmin Abidi. Yasmin raised the issue with Councillor Curren after rescuing an owl poisoned by rodenticide in the district. (Full story below.)

The vote also means that the council will petition the provincial government to ban anticoagulant rodenticides in B.C. and will communicate their harmful impacts to all residents and businesses in the district.

Update: Speak up to save owls like Lucky

Lucky the owl was lucky to survive being poisoned, twice. Most raptors aren’t so lucky.

Councillor Megan Curren of the District of North Vancouver has proposed the following recommendation, to be voted on June 15, 2020:

  • Recommendation:
  •  THAT a complete ban of anticoagulant rodenticides on all District of North Vancouver owned properties is supported;
  •  AND THAT staff is directed to petition the Province to ban anticoagulant rodenticides;
  •  AND THAT staff is directed to communicate the harmful impacts of anticoagulant rodenticides to all residents and businesses in the District of North Vancouver and to share findings about alternatives.

How you can help

  • You can sign this petition created by Lucky’s rescuer, Yasmin: Save the Owls

Original story:

Birds and other wildlife are often the unintended victims of rodent poison

VHS supporter Yasmin Abidi helped rescue what appeared to be an injured owl last week in North Vancouver. It later emerged that the owl had been poisoned, most likely by rodent poison.

Yasmin and several other Good Samaritans found the owl in a tree near a main road, bleeding and being attacked by crows. They contacted the Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society (OWL) in Delta and protected the bird until OWL staff arrived to take it back to their clinic for examination.

The examination found that the owl had ingested rodent poison and needed immediate treatment. Nicknamed “Lucky” by Yasmin, the owl is expected to recover, thanks to her quick actions. 

It also emerged that the owl had been poisoned three weeks earlier (and treated by OWL), indicating such poisonings are not uncommon.

Wildlife are often the victims of poisons used by businesses, landlords, municipalities and homeowners to control rodent populations.These “secondary poisonings” happen when birds of prey or other predators eat poisoned rodents and can cause a slow and painful death.

The BC SPCA has more information on how you can help wildlife by decreasing the amount of rat poison in the environment. If you find sick or injured wildlife you can contact one of the organizations listed by the Wildlife Rehabilitators’ Network.

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Media Release

Invite elephants and gorillas into your living room

Vancouver – Finding things to do for kids can be a challenge for parents in these days of social distancing. The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) is offering help with a new wildlife resource guide that allows families to visit gorillas in the jungle and whales at the bottom of the sea with just a click of a mouse.

The guide, available on the society’s website, offers kids a chance to see and learn about wild animals in their natural habitats through live webcams, phone apps, quizzes and lesson plans – all without going to a zoo or aquarium.

“We’ve put the best wildlife viewing and learning resources we could find in one easy-to-use guide,” says VHS executive director Amy Morris. “Kids can learn much more about animals by seeing them in the wild instead of in cages or tanks, where their ability to engage in natural behaviours is severely limited.”

The guide has links to Canadian and international wildlife resources, allowing kids to see baby eagles hatch, orcas rub along the bottom of the sea or elephants being cared for in a sanctuary.

“We hope families using the guide will see that it’s a better and more ethical way to learn about wildlife than visiting zoos and aquariums where wild animals are bred into captivity and never released,” says Morris. “The best part of these resources is that the animals get all the enrichment they need – social time, foraging for food and so much more.”

-ends-

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Opinion Editorial

We can’t afford to ignore the deadly wildlife trade

Article originally published on Daily Hive.

While the world is understandably preoccupied with the disastrous consequences of COVID-19, the global wildlife trade – the likely cause of the pandemic – is getting less attention. Scientists have raised concerns about the issue for years, but they were ignored. It’s an inescapable fact: we were warned.

Back in 2004, the Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) published a report titled A Disaster Ignored? The report, a review of scientific studies concerning the risks of disease from the wildlife trade, concluded: “There is a strong consensus of scientific opinion that the international movement of animals through the global trade in wild and exotic species poses a significant threat of spreading infectious disease to humans and other animals, both domestic and wild.”

Sixteen years later that scientific consensus is even stronger. It is estimated that at least 70% of emerging infectious diseases originate in wildlife. Yet, as COVID-19 has tragically proven, the opportunities to prevent a disaster have indeed been ignored.

While the precise source of COVID-19 has yet to be established, scientists who study zoonotic diseases (diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans) believe it originated from wildlife sold at a wet market in Wuhan, where the pandemic began.

Unregulated wet markets, where wild and domestic animals are slaughtered and sold on the spot in unsanitary conditions, are common in Asia and much of the developing world. They are supplied by the global wildlife trade (both legal and illegal), which also involves the sale of exotic pets and animal parts for use in so-called traditional medicines or in-fashion items (skins, ivory).

Scientists, conservationists and animal welfare groups have long called for the wildlife trade to be banned or at least restricted and for stronger enforcement of legislation against the trade. Their reasons are clear: the trade spreads zoonotic disease, drives species toward extinction, and is extremely cruel.

VHS, which has long campaigned against the sale and keeping of exotic pets, recently launched a petition calling on the BC government to strengthen regulation of the trade and ownership of wild animals in the province. The petition urges the government to review its regulations to ensure species that could pose a risk of spreading zoonotic disease be prohibited. VHS has also joined with more than 200 conservation and animal welfare organizations in signing an open letter to the World Health Organization, urging action against the wildlife trade.

Action to curtail the wildlife trade is needed at every level – globally, locally, and nationally. There have been calls for Canada to do more on the issue, including a suggestion by former federal minister James Moore that “Canada should table a resolution at the UN General Assembly calling for the immediate closure of the deadly and irresponsible wild animal and wet markets in China; enforced by international inspections and economic sanctions for non-compliance.”

The federal government can take this critical opportunity to work with the international community to curtail the wildlife trade, devote more enforcement resources to stopping the illegal import of wildlife into Canada, and develop a coordinated plan among relevant federal agencies and the provinces to eliminate or restrict the sale and ownership of exotic and wild animals. The Vancouver Humane Society is working alongside World Animal Protection Canada and other groups to press the government to do just that.

The scientific evidence is clear: unless we end the wildlife trade, we will see species disappear, millions of animals will suffer, and there will be more pandemics in the future. These are all disasters we cannot afford to ignore.

Categories
animal welfare Captivity compassion cruelty ethics News/Blog Promoted wildlife

Ask the BC government to do more to combat the cruel and dangerous wildlife trade

UPDATE: This campaign petition gained more that 3300 signatures, which VHS forwarded to officials at the B.C. Wildlife and Habitat Branch. We are now asking the federal government to take action against the wildlife trade. Please support our new petition!

Original post:

VHS is shifting the focus of our campaigns and communications to include the wildlife and exotic pet trade, which has been implicated in the emergence of COVID-19.

The emergence of new zoonotic diseases (diseases that spread from animals to humans) has been ignored for far too long, especially its connection to the international wildlife trade (explained in our recent op-ed). It’s time the international community and all levels of government in Canada took action to put and end to the illegal wildlife trade, which is not only inhumane but also is a threat to biodiversity and public health.

Here in B.C., the provincial government’s Controlled Alien Species Regulation governs “the possession, breeding, shipping, and releasing of alien animals that pose a risk to the health or safety of people, property, wildlife, or wildlife habitat.”

We’re calling on the government to review the regulation to ensure it addresses the threat of zoonotic disease from the trade in wild and exotic animals.

Please send a message to the provincial government’s Wildlife and Habitat Branch, asking them to take action to address this important issue.

 

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News/Blog

B.C.’s Hunting & Trapping Regulations – Have Your Say!

Update:

Weapons for “big game” hunting: The province listened to our concerns and prohibited the use of any weapon other than a firearm or bow, citing concerns about a higher likelihood of animal suffering from the use of alternative weapons.

No Hunting/Shooting Zone along Sea to Sky Highway: The province added a new no hunting and no shooting zone along the Sea to Sky highway. This follows a tragic incident in 2017, when a hunter in the area fatally shot a dog that he mistook for a wolf (despite the area being closed to wolf hunting), prompting calls by the dog’s guardian and the public for a no shooting and no hunting zone along the route.

Use of Technology to Locate Wildlife: The province prohibited the use of infrared optics (or thermal imaging) and wireless trail cameras for the purpose of hunting, as well as sharing the location of wildlife from an aircraft to a hunter on the ground.

Pursuit-only Season for Cougars: The province banned the pursuit-only season for cougars, where previously hunters who had killed their limit of cougars were permitted to continue chasing and treeing the animals with their hounds for training and exercise opportunities. In some situations, this created significant stress for mother cougars and their young.

Thank you for your advocacy to make these changes happen!

Original post:

The provincial government is currently seeking public feedback on a long list of proposed hunting and trapping regulations. This is an opportunity to weigh in on wildlife conservation and welfare issues in your area and throughout the province.

Weapons for Big Game Hunting

There are currently no regulations in place preventing big game hunters from using alternative or primitive weapons such as slingshots, spears and airguns. Citing concerns surrounding a higher likelihood of unnecessary suffering, a proposed regulation seeks to prohibit the use of any weapon other than a firearm or bow.

No Hunting/Shooting Zone along Sea to Sky Highway

Another regulation proposes a new no hunting and no shooting zone along the Sea to Sky highway. Unlike many other highways in the province, the stretch of highway 99 between Squamish and Pemberton or the Callaghan Road near Whistler currently has no restrictions on hunting or shooting within 400m of the highway. The area is a popular spot for locals, hikers and tourists. Tragically, in 2017 a hunter in the area fatally shot a dog that he mistook for a wolf (despite the area being closed to wolf hunting), prompting calls by the dog’s owner and the public for a no shooting and no hunting zone along the route.

Use of Technology to Locate Wildlife 

Several proposals also seek to prohibit the use of technology to assist hunters, including banning infrared optics (or thermal imaging) which enable hunters to see the heat signature of animal that is otherwise invisible to the naked eye; wireless trail cameras that when triggered send images of wildlife to a remote device and provide a hunter with the location of wildlife; and the sharing of location of wildlife from an aircraft to a hunter on the ground. The rationale behind banning this type of equipment for hunting purposes is that the use of it fails to meet the principles of fair chase, giving hunters an unfair advantage over wildlife. VHS is concerned that the use of such technology for hunting is turning B.C.’s backcountry into a canned hunt scenario, where the ability for wildlife to avoid human detection is increasingly diminished.

Pursuit-only Season for Cougars

Another proposed regulation aims to ban the pursuit-only season for cougars in the Kootenay region, where existing regulations allow hunters who have killed their allotment of cougars to continue chasing and treeing the animals with their hounds. The rationale behind permitting a pursuit-only season was to allow houndsmen to train and exercise their dogs, but the cruel practice not only causes unnecessary stress to the animals, but can lead to injury for the cougar and the hounds, as well as the separation of mothers and kittens.

Numerous other regulations focused on motorized vehicle and firearm restrictions and changes to specific hunting seasons are also being proposed. For example, a proposal to end wolverine trapping in the Kootenays; implement a mule deer bow only season on Gulf, Denman and Hornby Islands; prohibit the use of precision-guided firearms and scopes on bows during bow-only seasons; and changes to black bear hunting seasons within the traditional territory of the Kitasoo/Xai’xais Nation in the Great Bear Rainforest in order to support bear viewing tourism efforts by the Nation.

How to Submit Comments

For the full list of proposed regulations, click here. The public comment period ends January 19, 2020 at midnight. To participate through the government’s engagement website, you’ll need to register for a “Basic BCeID” account. Once you’ve created a BCeID, return to the main hunting/trapping regulation page and click login. Once you’ve logged in, it will return you to the main page and you can scroll through the list of proposals. On each proposal page, you’ll be able to scroll to the bottom and select “support”, “neutral” or “oppose”. You’ll also be able to leave a comment, if you’d like to elaborate on your position.