Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Taking Action

© By Othmar Vohringer

Currently an anti hunting organization here in British Columbia called the Pacific Wild appears on TV channels all over the province in a effort to promote their bear hunting ban agenda.

As can be expected, the information contains a lot of junk science, heavily skewed and manipulated data and outright lies about bear hunting and conservation. In short anti hunting groups will say whatever they deem necessary to improve their financial bottom line and press the emotional buttons of the masses in the hope that they donate money to the organization.

As hunters we need to respond to such propaganda stunts that are solely aimed at maligning hunters for financial benefits. Here I leave you with the letter I wrote to the organization with carbon copies to the TV station that aired the diatribe and to our provincial government.


Date: March 16, 2009

Re: Stop bear hunting in British Columbia

To Whom It May Concern:

Once again representatives of your organization have managed to go public with what best could be described as junk science and outright lies about the bear conservation, hunting and bear population numbers. Furthermore on your website you imply that hunters are lawbreakers by stating that bears are shot in Provincial and State Parks where hunting is not permitted.

As an interesting side note, your organization aligns itself with Coastal First Nations animal protection and conservation groups. This is very interesting because it is the First Nations that demanded special rights to hunt wherever, whenever and whatever they want without any regard to the regulations by which real hunters have to comply.

Through personal inside experience with animal rights and anti hunting groups I am fully aware that your organization is not overly concerned about real bear facts and conservation issues. Your main concern is the financial bottom line and to that end you will say whatever suits your political agenda and pushes the emotional buttons of a vastly ignorant people in the hope they will donate money to your extreme political cause.

Still I would like to provide you with the facts as they stand.

British Columbia has the most diverse and largest wildlife population in North America. BC is among the world leaders in wildlife and habitat conservation. The reason for our wildlife and habitat conservation success is a direct result of the close relationship between government and hunters. It was the hunters that first noticed a sharp decline in bear populations in the early 70's and demanded that the government stopped all bear hunting and not environmental groups. Environmental groups weren’t invented back then.

Since then, thanks to hunters working closely with wildlife biologists and the government of British Columbia, black bears and grizzly bears have bounced back to sustainable populations. Today the grizzly bear population is a conservatively estimated 14,000 strong and the black bear population is estimated at 160,000 strong (it's the largest grizzly and balck bear population anywhere in North America). These numbers are far from “an endangered species” as you erroneously but willfully claim.

To people with knowledge and real facts this does not come as a surprise because hunters are and always have been among the biggest wildlife conservationists. Long before it became a political agenda and money spin for extreme political groups.

Hunters only cull the surplus animals that need to be taken out of the population to ensure a healthy natural balance. Hunters cull less then 3% of the grizzly bear population. What animals and in what region the animals need to be culled is established by wildlife biologists that then in turn advice the government to allocate the necessary permits to hunters. Hunting is not as you imply random killing of animals, at least it is not for law-abiding hunters. Poachers are not hunters they are criminals.

Hunters contribute the lion share of finances needed for wildlife conservation through the purchase of hunting licenses. Hunters are also active in wildlife conservation organizations such as the hunter founded BC Wildlife Federation (BCWF), the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Ducks Unlimited (DU), the Wild Sheep Society and the list goes on, providing further billions of dollars to benefit directly wildlife and habitat conservation. In other words, it is the hunters that put their money and personal effort where their mouth is to ensure a healthy and thriving wildlife population that can be equally enjoyed by all, including eco-tourists and those that want to outlaw hunting.

When was the last time your organization, or any other anti hunting organization for that matter, spent billions plus personal effort on wildlife conservation? The few known cases where wildlife conservation had been turned over to anti hunters ended in a complete conservation disaster causing diseases, starvation and habitat destruction.

Banning hunting would have a devastating effect on wildlife and environment. Who would pay the billions needed to keep wildlife conservation at the current high level? Who, if not hunters, would donate thousands of man hours dedicated to wildlife and habitat enhancement. Would your organization pay for it or should we leave it to the already overburdened taxpayers? Wildlife conservation certainly can’t be paid with eco-tourism (bear watching). On that note, have you ever bothered to read any data what eco-tourism does to wildlife and habitat? Look no further than Africa and the Yellow Stone National Park where wildlife has become habituated to people to the point where they become dangerous. Each year we learn of accidents where animals attack, injure and kill eco-tourists.Not to mention the damage caused to habitat and environment.

As an animal behaviorist I know how dangerous habituated wild animals can become to humans. Wildlife biologists in Africa view eco-tourism as a “huge problem” because once habituated animals tend to loose not only their natural respect of humans but also stop to behave and interact naturally with each other. In other words they behave like zoo animals, nature is turned into a drive through safari park.

In your publications you complain that the government doesn’t jump on your bandwagon. Here is the reason. Fortunately the government of British Columbia sees through the smoke screen you put up. Minister Penner knows the facts of hunting and wildlife conservation and that is why he turns your proposal down and for that alone he will get my vote in the upcoming election.

Othmar Vohringer

CC to Honorable Barry Penner, B.C. Minister of Environment
CC to Honorable Gordon Campbell, Premier of British Columbia
CC to Global TV


Adam said...

Very well said Othmar, great post!

Anonymous said...

I surely hope they all read your post, nice job.

SimplyOutdoors said...

That is one very nicely articulated letter Othmar. I'm glad to see fellow hunters standing up for what we think is right. Too many of us stand idly by and let our rights be taken away from us.

The time for that to stop is now!

Great job.

Othmar Vohringer said...

Thanks Adam.

Othmar Vohringer said...

Rick I think they do. I got an email from the minister thanking me taking astand and supporting hunters.


Othmar Vohringer said...

Thanks Arthur. You’re right about to many hunters taking this crap sitting down. Yet as you write in your brilliant article many seem perfect content wasting all that time trying to figure out what divides us and have endless debates about it.

The times where hunters can put their feet up and relax until next hunting season has gone. We need to become politically active or WE WILL LOSE hunting in our lifetime. It’s crazy to think about that such a small minority as the animal rights can bully hunters around. Hunters outnumber animal rights by several millions.


gary said...

Very well done Othmar. I think there is a fear in most of us to become politically involved as we fear the big machine called 'politics', and to jump in with both feet can spell disaster. But we crawl before we walk and we need to ease into it some way or another or someday we'll have plenty of time on our hands to wish we had.

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