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A Whale Sanctuary in BC?

Renowned neuroscientist Dr. Lori Marino spoke to the public about the Whale Sanctuary Project at an event presented by the Vancouver Humane Society and the BC SPCA on July 11th. She and the executive director of the project, Charles Vinick, were in British Columbia looking at possible sites for the sanctuary.

The theme of the evening at the Roundhouse in Vancouver was “Reconciliation”, which was introduced by Bob Chamberlin, Chief Councilor of the Kwicksutaineuk Ah-kwa-mish First Nation. Chief Chamberlin discussed the reconciliation between Canada and its First Nations people, and how this should expand towards a reconciliation between all humans and the natural world. Recognition of this planet as a living being, and respecting the animals and nature, is a necessary step towards this reconciliation.

Dr. Marino continued on this theme by describing the Whale Sanctuary Project, which aims to create a seaside sanctuary for formerly captive cetaceans (whales and dolphins) that maximizes the well-being and autonomy of its residents. It will create an environment as close as possible to their natural habitat.

Other sites under consideration are along the coasts of Washington State and Nova Scotia.  There is a thorough list of requirements that a site must meet and Dr. Marino and her team have been working closely with First Nations communities to ensure that the project is adopted rather than tolerated. They hope to complete the site selection portion of this project by the end of the year. 

Once the sanctuary site has been selected they will begin a three-phase process to ensure it is ready for its first resident by 2019. They will first focus on development of infrastructure and veterinary facilities, followed by administration and housing. The final phase will develop educational and visitor programs. The sanctuary will allow the public to see cetaceans in a natural setting and will focus on education and conservation, not entertainment. Dr. Marino and her team believe a sanctuary is about the animals, not about the people, and they will work to create a better life for these highly intelligent animals.

Learn More!


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Canadian Wildlife Federation obscures its hunting affiliations

elk-hunter-istockA recent story in the Vancouver Sun raised an important question for animal lovers: Why does the Canadian Wildlife Federation (CWF) continue to obscure the fact that it is deeply rooted in the hunting and fishing community, and  is actually made up of twelve ‘affiliate’ organizations, most of which have a major focus on hunting and fishing? If you have any doubt, check out the website of one affiliate – the Alberta Fish and Game Association.

Or, have a look at this: Brad Leyte, CWF executive committee member and secretary, is a hunter, as a photo and story in Atlantic Outdoors Magazine (pg. 6) shows.

In its most recent Christmas fundraising mailing (coincidentally received by a VHS staff member) you’d be hard-pressed to find any evidence of this, as all the material in the package depicts beautiful photographs of wildlife and lots of talk about conservation, but nary a mention of hunting.

This is not to say that the organization and its affiliates have not contributed significantly to the conservation of wildlife. However, the public, and most especially donors, have a right to know the policies of the organization they are supporting. It should be clearly stated in their written materials and on their website that they support hunting and fishing – in their words, the ‘wise use’ of wildlife.

Why don’t you call them up and ask for their policy on hunting? You can reach them at: 1.800.563.9453. We’d love to hear what they tell you! Just email us at

animal welfare cruelty News/Blog Promoted rodeo

Why is a convicted wildlife poacher on the board of the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association?

dead steer1 040523Rodeo046
Rodeo isn’t known for its kindness to animals but its board members should be held to some standard of ethical behaviour.

VHS calls for removal of rodeo association board member



The Canadian Professional Rodeo Association’s Animal Welfare Guide states that it “supports the responsible and humane use of animals and believes that all animals utilized in entertainment, industry and sport should be afforded proper care and management.”

Presumably, this includes the “sport” of hunting but one of the CPRA’s board directors, Cody Cassidy, doesn’t seem to afford wildlife “proper care and management.”  In fact, Mr. Cassidy pleaded guilty to several poaching-related charges in July of last year, according to the Red Deer Advocate. The charges included hunting without a licence, possession of wildlife and controlled animals, and providing false or misleading information. Mr. Cassidy received a $16,000 fine and a one-year judicial order preventing him from obtaining an outfitting-guide permit.

The presiding judge at Red Deer Provincial Court cited Mr. Cassidy’s history of these types of offences, including guiding on private property without permission, failing to post signs in an area of black bear bait, unauthorized hunting and discharging a firearm on private property without permission.

Mr. Cassidy’s father Greg, a champion steer-wrestler also pleaded guilty to poaching charges in the same case. He was inducted into the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame just months later.

Cody Cassidy operates Big Knife outfitters, which takes clients on moose hunts. His father Greg volunteers with the company. The Red Deer Advocate’s account of the court case includes a description of the hunt, which aside from the poaching offences, raises concerns about the hunt itself. It states: “Greg and the client were hunting at one of the Central Alberta locations when they spotted a moose.The client shot the moose with one arrow, which did not kill the moose. Cody joined the hunt and they tracked the moose for three hours. When they caught up with the moose, they shot it with a few more arrows, killing it.” It is difficult to see how this animal could not have suffered during the three hours after it was wounded.

VHS has written to CPRA president Murry Milan, calling for Mr. Cassidy to be removed from the board. The letter states: “Clearly, these are serious offences for someone in a position of responsibility at the CPRA, who should be held to the highest ethical standards.  We find it unacceptable that Mr. Cassidy remains as director on the CPRA board.”

The CPRA can be contacted at




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Tormenting animals is always outrageous

The harassment of a moose has rightly provoked shock and anger but rodeo animals face routine abuse and it’s considered entertainment.


text2 mooseVideo of several men tormenting a moose in northern B.C. has gone viral and caused outrage around the world. Conservation officers have launched an investigation and the perpetrators could face heavy fines if caught and charged.










textdead-steer1-040523Rodeo0461Meanwhile, rodeos routinely torment animals and hand out prize money to reward the abuse. Just because an animal is “livestock” doesn’t mean it can’t feel the same fear and stress that other animals do.  Cruelty is cruelty.





Please sign our petition asking CBC Sports to stop broadcasting animal cruelty at the Calgary Stampede.












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The truth behind the Canadian Wildlife Federation


The Canadian Wildlife Federation (CWF) is categorized as an animal protection charity by the Canada Revenue Agency. But just what is the CWF protecting animals from when the organization is deeply rooted in the hunting and fishing community?

In fact, the CWF comprises twelve provincial organizations, most of which have a major focus on protecting and promoting hunting and fishing. The Alberta Fish and Game Association (a CWF founding member) states “Our passion is to promote…the conservation and utilization of fish and wildlife…” The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters advocates for “the protection of our hunting traditions” and offers such goodies as a ‘buck fillet knife’ and “hunting Christmas ornaments.”

The Newfoundland and Labrador Wildlife Federation states in its bylaws that “The purpose of the Federation shall be to promote, foster and protect the interests of the sportsmen of this province.” The B.C. Wildlife Federation states it is ‘a province-wide voluntary conservation organization of hunters, anglers and recreational shooters..”.

Even CWF president Dave Powell has served as vice-chairman of an organization called the Hunting for Tomorrow Foundation and is past-president of the aforementioned Alberta Fish and Game Association.

But unsuspecting animal lovers visiting the CWF website would find it difficult to make this connection to the hunting community. The website screams warm and fuzzy with wildlife photo contests and other motherhood-and-apple-pie activities. Rather than camouflage clothing and floating gun cases, their shopping section offers opportunities to adopt animals, including black bears and beluga whales, and Robert Bateman tote bags. Conservation is the operative word. But the question arises; for what purpose?

The only reference to the affiliates and their primary purpose is found in an obscure part of the website featuring Annual Reports. And unless one follows the links to these websites, there is no way to know that the conservation effort is about preserving animals so that they can continue to be hunted. It’s ironic that a donor can adopt a black bear, which is one of the animals hunted by the many ‘sportsmen’ who are behind the CWF and its affiliates. Most animal lovers would find this repugnant and feel duped to know that their donations were being used in this fashion.

This is not to say that the organization and its affiliates have not contributed significantly to the conservation of wildlife. However, the public, and most especially donors, have a right to know the policies of the organization they are supporting. It should be clearly stated in their written materials and on their website that they support hunting, fishing and trapping – in their words, the ‘wise use’ of wildlife.