British Columbia’s Wildlife Needs Your Help

Wildlife killing contests seem to be popping up everywhere, but Canadians may be shocked to learn that they are happening right here. Currently, British Columbia is allowing groups to host three such events and a number of animal protection groups have signed an open letter to ask the BC government to bring an immediate end to all current contests and, prohibit them from happening in the future. Killing wildlife for fun and points has no place in our society and it is time for all Canadians to take a stand against these outdated practices. Killing predators is not sustainable, ethical or scientific – it is simply an excuse for people to satisfy their blood lust.

In a phone interview with Daily Hive Vancouver, Wildlife Defence League Co-founder and Executive Director Tommy Knowles said tournaments like the one in Creston Valley are cruel, result in the unnecessary killing of predators, and that there’s little to no science “that these contests actually have any effect in recovering ungulate populations.”

So why does the government allow these tournaments of death to continue? The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources says it “doesn’t condone or encourage wildlife-killing contests but noted there are no rules that prevent them from being held so long as hunters are properly licensed and follow the laws.”  Remember, just because some is legal does not mean it is right.

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DISTURBING IMAGES: Photos submitted by environmental groups show hunters posing with predators they killed during wildlife killing contests.Global News

In addition to a wolf whacking contest a spokesperson for the Creston Valley Rod and Gun Club told the Daily Hive that hunters are targeting cougars and it’s more likely that that animal would be taken out. A “predator tournament” running from March 16 to 24 sponsored by Creston Valley Rod and Gun Club has a point system for killing different animals: three points for cougars or wolves, two for coyotes and one for raccoons. They also offer cash prizes for the top three contestants.

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HOW TO HELP
  1. The Fur-Bearers have a petition for Canadians, with a form letter ready to go. Simply enter your name, address and email (please sign and share if you live in Canada)
  2. Conservation groups Wildlife Defence League and Pacific Wild also suggest people speak out against the Creston Valley Rod and Gun Club’s Predator Tournament, and contests like it by contacting the province to voice their opposition against the event. This option is open to anyone regardless of where you live. The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy may be contacted by email or phone:
  • Telephone: 1-800-663-7867
    EnquiryBC@gov.bc.ca
  • Hon. George Heyman – Minister of Environment & Climate Change Strategy.
    E-mail: george.heyman.MLA@leg.bc.ca
    Telephone:(250) 387-1187
  • Fish and Wildlife – Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations & Rural Development
  • Email: FishandWildlife@gov.bc.ca
    Telephone:1-877-855-3222
  • Hon. Doug Donaldson – Minster of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations & Rural Development
    Email: doug.donaldson.MLA@leg.bc.ca
    Telephone: (250) 387-6240

The Cougar – Beautiful, Wild and Dangerous

The Cougar  – Beautiful, Wild and Dangerous by author Paula Wild is a book I first came across over a year ago and was drawn to it partly due to its focus on cougars in western Canada. The author was born in the U.S. but moved to British Columbia (BC) where she currently resides, and where much of the book is focused. BC and in particular Vancouver Island, contains the largest concentration of cougars in Canada and in all of North America or the world, making the area a hot spot for cougar activity and encounters both positive and negative.

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The opening chapter includes the story of two young children who had fended off and survived a cougar attack on Vancouver Island in 1916 as well as insight into why the author decided to write the book. There are quite a few references to cougar attacks throughout, both historical and modern-day accounts, but the author mentions that her interest in writing about the cats wasn’t based on these experiences alone. Besides wanting to know how to prevent or survive an attack, she was also driven by a need to know more about an animal that is strongly linked to the same landscape she and many other people share. After hearing a cougar ‘scream’ near her home, listen to what that sounds like here, and reading an article about safety in cougar country she decided to delve into the world of this magnificent but highly misunderstood and persecuted big cat.

For those not familiar with the history of cougars in Canada there is a decent introduction of what the cats met with when the first settlers arrived. The cats were declared ‘varmints’ a threat to livestock and people, they were to be destroyed at all costs, and by any means. Extermination campaigns and bounties were the norm, one cougar hunter was so successful that the Canadian government even provided hunting hounds for him. Many of these sanctioned bounties in Canada, as well as in the U.S., ended in the recent past when the bounty system was realized as an ineffective means of controlling the population and attitudes towards the cat started changing.  By that point the numbers of cougars killed was staggering. In the book it is stated that during the bounty years an estimated “21,871 cougars were killed in BC alone“.

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The history of the cougar in Canada, as well as the U.S. is disturbing however, it is important to acknowledge the past to ensure that we never repeat it again. Cougar in British Columbia – Historical Image Government of BC, Ministry of Environment

The Cougar touches on a variety of topics including safety in cougar country, research, behavior, biology, the captive animal crisis and the rise of cougar encounters. Some researchers think that encounters are increasing due to the cats recovery in particular areas, while others feel that it is a direct result of the presence of more people and in cougar territory. Humans are simply putting more pressure on cougars, their prey and habitat which ultimately can have an impact on the cats behavior. All of this is a recipe for more conflict and to avoid it the public must educate themselves and wildlife agencies and government must be supportive. Unfortunately at the moment Canada continues to fall behind on almost all fronts when it comes to cougars – in research, education of the public and protection of the cats from persecution.

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Cougar attacks are still very rare – you are more likely to drown in your bathtub, be killed by a pet dog, or hit by lightning.

Fear-mongering and sensationalism still exists, especially in the main stream media, and cougars are for the most part portrayed as a public threat, but thankfully some of the old attitudes towards cougars are slowly changing, with the knowledge that they already do co-exist with people remaining out of sight, preferring to avoid humans when they can. Researchers are now also aware of the vital and important role they play in healthy ecosystems, managing prey species and enriching our landscapes.

The trade off with living in or near cougar country means we must take responsibility and learn to safely coexist with them taking precautions to ensure people, pets, children and livestock are safe.

The Cougar – Beautiful, Wild and Dangerous addresses many of the key issues surrounding cougars as well as being an interesting read, especially for those who would like to know more about cougars in western Canada where they exist in what could be considered their last great refuge.

Roadside Rescue

In the middle of a thunderstorm while driving his five ton semi-truck in Burnaby BC last week, trucker Dennis McDonald decided to make a stop that wasn’t planned. Dennis had noticed what he thought was a dead cat on the road, except something told him the cat was still alive, so he turned his truck around and stopped to check. Dennis tells Burnabynow that once he approached the black cat he could see that he “was a mess…he couldn’t even hold himself up. It was one of the worst things I’ve seen.”  Dennis’s quick thinking and roadside rescue got the cat, now named Kevin, to the Burnaby SPCA where he urged staff to skip the paper work and get the injured cat treated first.

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Kevin the three-year-old feline had been hit by a car and suffered injuries to his top and bottom jaw. – Image BC SPCA

Dennis who is a cat lover already has two of his own and plans to adopt Kevin into his family once he is ready to go home. The SPCA had tracked down the cats original owner who was unable to pay for the surgery and had given the cat away to a neighbor. Kevin the cat was considered abandoned so the original owner decided to surrender him to the SPCA. Dennis said that “broke him in about a million pieces…I can’t do a lot on this planet, … but no being deserves to die anonymously in the corner.”

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Dennis, who has visited Kevin at the SPCA, plans to change the cats name to BB-8 a nod to Star Wars and the cats original name BB.

The SPCA say that Kevin’s recovery has been touch and go but luckily none of his injuries are life threatening. “He might have some mild asymmetry in his face and decreased hearing because his left eardrum ruptured, but I think his life will be pretty good,” says Burnaby Hospital veterinarian Dr. Claudia Richter, who notes the necessary surgery was generously donated by our friends at West Coast Veterinary Dental Services.

Dennis who can be seen in this video with Kevin says that the cat is “amazing…and knows people are looking after him”.

Tiny Wheels

Cassidy the kitten had a very rough start. Born to a feral mom, he spent his first weeks fighting for his life and by the time he was found he was starving to death and missing his back legs.

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Cassidy – All Images Tiny Kittens on Facebook

TinyKittens, a volunteer-run non-profit society working to improve the lives of cats and kittens in need in Fort Langley, British Columbia rescued Cassidy after he was spotted on a rural property. By the time he was rescued he had already lived 9 weeks with his injuries.

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Shelly Roche of Tiny Kittens, who trapped Cassidy, tells the Langley Advance that she “could feel all his little bones” and that he had survived not being able to walk on his back legs likely from birth. His mother could have accidentally bit off his feet, if they were tangled in the umbilical cord. Besides his injures he was also suffering for an a septic E. coli infection and the first vet who examined him wasn’t sure if he would survive.

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Cassidy the Miracle Kitten

Cassidy however had a very strong will to live and after he was brought to Mountain View Veterinary Hospital where his wounded legs were cleaned up, Tiny Kittens put him on their live internet feed. They wanted to give Cassidy the best chance possible to have a good quality of life and leveraged their large online following asking for help with obtaining a pet prosthetic.

Lucky for Cassidy the good folks at Handicapped Pets Canada approached Tiny Kittens and offered to provide a custom-built tiny wheelchair to allow him to run around using his front legs.

Tiny kitten calls for tiny wheels

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Roche  says that they are “even looking into implanted prosthetic feet” like the ones Oscar the bionic cat got when he lost his front legs in a combine harvester and became the first feline recipient of special prosthetic implants. Two students have also stepped up and suggested using their school’s 3D printer to make progressively larger wheelchairs as Cassidy grows.

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Cassidy recovering after his neuter surgery.

In the meantime they are ensuring Cassidy is happy and on the road to living a full life. He is off his pain medication and is being a typical kitten playing with his brother Topper and other cats. Roche says he is at about “40 percent” when it comes to using an accessible litter box made for him.

Once Cassidy is ready, he will need a forever home where someone is willing to provide him with lots of love and care.

You can watch Cassidy live on the TinyKittens web cam here and follow him on Facebook for updates and more videos.