June 14, 1996
Alberni Valley Times
by Diane Morrison
Bears, whether Black, Brown, Grizzly or Polar, are not endangered
species in North America. Anthony Marr wants to keep it that way.
The campaigner for Western Canada Wilderness Committee was in Port Alberni
Thursday night with his effort to ban sport and trophy hunting of
Grizzly and Black bears.
It was a very hard sell to the audience of about 70 dominated by hunters
and hunting guides that packed into a into small, hot room at the
Friendship Centre, made even hotter by the temper flaring up from wall
The hunters say they are the endangered species. They wanted the
distinction between legal hunting and poaching to be clearly recognized.
“Go ask the bears, to see if they can,” said Marr. He also said that
some hunters and guides make this impossible, because they are
Marr believes that, with both legal hunting, poaching and conservation
officer kills, about 8% of the Grizzly bear population and more than 10%
of the Black bear population are being killed each year. He said the
province’s Grizzly Bear Conservation Strategy clearly states that the
species can sustain no more than a 4% annual mortality before going into
decline, and even this, according to Marr, is too high.
Members of the audience disputed Marr’s numbers saying that, on Vancouver
Island at least, the Black bear population has been increasing by 15%
for the last 10 years. Marr countered that the Black bear populations on
southern Vancouver Island, and some in Mid-Island, have been decimated
in various locales, citing the Cowichan Lake area as an example, and
challenged the hunters to produce written documentation to support their
claim, which they did not.
A number of people asked why Marr’s main thrust was to shut down legal
hunting when the problem is poaching. Marr replied that both in
combination is the problem, and that he has another sub-campaign
targeting poachers and traffickers of bear parts. A Chinese Canadian,
Marr has taken on both Canadian hunters and the Chinese demand for the
body parts of these animals.
After about an hour of cross firing, WCWC campaign assistant Erica Denison
finally stood up and said that until poaching can be brought under
control, they want to buy time for the bears to recover. One of the
hunters pointed at her and said, “Young lady, you are not old enough to
teach us anything. Sit down!” Marr pointed at a middle-aged woman in the
audience who had been quite outspoken in favour of hunting, saying,
“I’ve been listening to this young lady for the last hour. Erica, please
Marr needs to get hunters on his side, the woman said, not slam them,
because hunters also want to stop poaching.
Some audience members said it is organizations such as WCWC, advertising
the fact that bear parts are worth so much on the black market, that is
increasing poaching. Marr scoffed at this as an “ostrich attitude”.
They objected to being told that they can’t legally hunt bears, but bears
that get into garbage and smash bee hives can be killed for being a
nuisance. Marr said, “The bears you kill are not nuisance bears, and
that killing nuisance bears is not your job.”
When shown a picture of a bear shut in a small cage with a tube leading
out from its gall bladder to extract bile, one man said that countries
that treat animals like that are not democratic and so they have no
conscience. Marr countered that lots of capitalists have no conscience
Another man was convinced that if WCWC is successful in shutting down bear
hunting, it will try to shut down all hunting. Marr said, “If another
hunted species becomes threatened or endangered, I would champion its
cause as well.”
Back to poaching, Marr said that when an animal such as the tiger and the
rhino is declared endangered, the demand and price, and so the poaching,
skyrocket, hastening its slide into oblivion. “It is a very vicious
cycle, and the purpose of this campaign is to try to keep our own bears
out of it.” . . .
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