Part II - Bear Referendum
Chapter 25 - July Media Coverage B
July 9, 1996, Tue.
by Rick Davison
WCWC wants bear hunting banned
It will be a tough fight, particularly in these parts, but Anthony Marr of the Western Canada Wilderness Committee is determined to stop the killing of bears in BC.
Marr is spearheading the WCWC’s Bear Referendum project . . .
His first step will be to find the people willing to register themselves with Elections BC as “volunteer canvassers” to help collect some 220,000 signatures required to force a public vote on the issue.
He hopes to have those canvassers ready to start the 90-day signature-drive starting September 10. . . .
Marr opposes what he calls the European-Canadian tradition of recreational/trophy hunting that he says is really killing for pleasure, as well as the Asian-Canadian tradition of killing bears for medicinal purposes.
“Most people in BC and Canada, including hunters, are not aware of the extent of poaching,” said Marr, who added that while there are about 120,000 Black bears and some 10,000 Grizzlies in BC, there is, according to international experts, at least one illegal kill for every legal one.
He said the Grizzly bear population is declining at a rate of several per cent a year, and while poaching is difficult to stop, the number of legal licenses issued can be reduced or eliminated. . . .
His stand has won him the admiration of some and the scorn of others. . . .
The president of the Chetwynd Rod and Gun Club was unavailable for reaction on the proposed anti-bear-hunting law.
July 10, 1996, Wed.
The Daily News
by Robert Koopmans
Bear ban sets bad precedent
The thought of dead bears in the bush, minus their gall bladders and paws, makes me cringe. But there is something in Anthony Marr’s message that ripples my spine just as much.
A campaigner with the Western Canada Wilderness Committee, Marr was in town Monday night, promoting the idea the ending bear hunting in BC can stop poaching and save bears from the endangered list.
It’s not the specifics of Marr’s anti-bear-hunting speech that are troubling, but what his campaign represents. Marr is the thin edge of a bigger wedge, an axe aimed at the heart of sport hunting in general.
He knows how to cloak the anti-hunting message. First, he hides it in the evils of poaching, then attaches it to a species that almost everyone identifies as the king of wildlife in BC. His concerns aren’t based in fact.
Poaching may be a problem, but hunters aren’t poachers. End bear hunting in BC and animals will still fall victim to criminals’ bullets.
And there is nothing to suggest numbers are even decreasing. According to wildlife officials, Black bears number around 120,000 in BC while Grizzly bear populations have stabilized.
Marr’s request for an end to bear seasons isn’t about shrinking populations or poaching. Ultimately, the WCWC is spearheading the start of an attempt to end all hunting in BC.
As the WCWC works to get the more than 200,000 signatures needed to send the bear-hunting issue to a BC-wide vote, people should be aware of the real question.
Do people have the right to hunt?
The question is very emotional for some, and the topic evokes strong debate in many circles. Like many issues - politics, religion and abortion to name a few - there are no easy answers.
If you believe subjective arguments are best dealt with by provincial referendum and statute of law, this vote is for you. If WCWC gets bear hunting to a vote, it will be special interest groups that win, not wildlife. Criminals will still kill animals in the bright glare of lights, but activists will have found a new voice, a new tool to use whenever they find an activity contrary to their personal beliefs.
Issues and concerns born of pure emotion should not be dealt with by law. If WCWC wants to end hunting - it should seek to educate, not legislate.
Make people want to stop shooting bears. Should some weigh the facts and continue to hunt, keep in mind, this is a free country.
Marr said WCWC isn’t interested in stopping all hunting - just bear hunting. But if his bid for a referendum is successful, others will pick up where WCWC left off.
Bear Watch, the Tofino-based quasi-terrorist that chases hunters with air horns and video cameras, could turn into Deer Watch. Perhaps they will suggest all poaching will stop when hunters are prevented from entering the bush.
Expect the next decade or two to be filled with a constant search for referenda, on every aspect of hunting and fishing. This is the first volley in a long fight. not over hunt for bears, but over the legal right to pursue wildlife.
July 10, 1996, Wed.
The Daily News
by Heather Colpitts
Bear petition circulated
The Western Canada Wilderness Committee seeks to stop bear hunting in the province as a way to safeguard their long term security.
Claiming 25,000 members and 2.5 times that many donors, the environmental group held a meeting recently in Prince Rupert to garner support for a referendum that would ban the trophy hunting of bears in BC.
“Of the eight species of bears in the world, five have been driven to the brink of extinction,” WCWC campaigner Anthony Marr said. “If the trend continues, which it definitely does, and escalating, the Grizzly bear will be next to be put on the endangered list, followed by the Polar bear, and finally the Maerican Black bear,” he said.
Black bear kills are not required to be reported in BC and in most provinces in Canada, so the actual kill numbers are likely much higher than the reported 22,000 Black and Grizzly bears legally killed annually in Canada. Even by conservation estimates there is one bear poached for every one legally killed, and BC and Alberta are estimated to be more heavily poached than other provinces. Add this to the legal kill number and we could be losing 44,000 to 60,000 bears per year due to direct killing, or 10% to 14% of the bear population per annum, which is far from sustainable.
Hunters elsewhere during the WCWC Bear Referendum road tour have been critical of the numbers used and question whether the decline of the bear in Asia has anything to do with the bears in BC.
. . . . Northern BC increasingly will be viewed as a bear warehouse with the decimation of the Asiatic and southern BC bear populations, Marr warned.
“More than two decades ago India outlawed tiger hunting and Kenya, among other African countries, has banned lion hunting in spite of the lion’s not even being considered endangered.
“Canada as an environmentally awareness nation has a moral obligation to lead the world, not straggle behind two Third World countries,” said Marr.
In spite of this moral high ground, WCWC and Marr admits they have an uphill battle ahead with hunters. . . .
July 10, 1996, Wed.
The Terrace Standard
by Dave Taylor
Crusade makes bid for bear hunting ban
At underground Oriental bear banquets, live bears in cages are lowered onto hot coals until their paws are cooked.
In Chinese “bear farms”, workers extract gall bladder bile from live bears in tiny cages to process into patent medicines.
In North America, bears are being poached for galls and paws, and trophy hunted, with firearms, bow and arrow, over bait and by means of dogs, for head and hide.
These are some of the atrocities that Anthony Marr of the Western Canada Wilderness Committee say he is out to stop.
He is on an eight-week road tour to drum up support for a province-wide referendum to end bear hunting in BC, and raise penalties against poachers and traffickers.
While Grizzly bears and Black bears are not endangered in BC, Marr says that could soon change. . . .
According to Marr, when a species becomes endangered, it’s probably too late.
“It’s a catch-22 situation,” he says. “Once a species is classified as endangered, the black market value goes up, poaching escalates, and the species spirals down. It’s a very vicious cycle that is almost impossible to break.” . . .
Marr says that he has to go after legal hunting besides higher penalties for poachers because “trying to catch poachers in a province the size of BC is like Paul Watson trying to locate pirate whalers in the high seas back in the 1970s.”. . .
If there is a referendum vote, Marr thinks it will win big, citing a 1995 Angus Reid poll that indicated 85% of British Columbians were opposed to bear trophy-hunting.
One person in the other 15% is Bobby Ball, a hear-hunting guide for over 40 years. He disagrees with Marr.
“There is no danger to the bear population,” he says. “There are more bears out here than you can shake a stick at.”
Ball is not happy with people like Marr, who he says are misinformed.
“Those Bear Watch yahoos really do more harm than good,” he says. “What those armchair conservationists don’t realize is that trophy hunters go after the old boars that rarely reproduce and can be a nuisance.” . . .
Ball also says he doesn’t understand the reasoning behind the referendum bid, which goes after hunters, and poachers.
“Isn’t that stupid?” he says. “Stop and think about it - isn’t that stupid? Hunting brings lots of good, clean dollars to the region. If this guy wants to help, he should go after the poachers, not the hunters.”
But Marr sees a trophy hunting ban as invaluable in safe-guarding the health of bear populations before things get out of control.
“We have to do something now, whether or not the hunters agree,” he says. “If we wait till they see the light, it could be too late.”
July 11, 1996, Thur.
The Daily News
by Mel Rothenburger
Culture greatest threat to wildlife
Culture and the environment seem to be coming into conflict a lot lately. Culture is a word for saying that because something has been done a certain way in the past, it should continue to be done.
There are many good attributes to culture. It defines collections of people, teaches them, gives them pride. But it can also be a tremendous barrier to positive change. That’s the case with endangered wildlife.
Earlier this week, Anthony Marr spoke to a few dozen people in Kamloops about his so-called BET’R Campaign. BET’R stands for bear, elephant, tiger and rhinoceros - four groups of species he fears are fighting a losing battle against mankind.
The prime reason is culture. All four species groups are being slaughtered because their parts are highly valued in Far Eastern countries for alleged medicinal benefits. Thus, poaching is rampant. Marr, who grew up in Hong Kong, understands the culture behind the insatiable appetite for rare animal parts, but devotes his life to fighting it.
He realizes the difficulty in asking people to reverse a thousand-year-old tradition, but it’s the only way the target animals can be saved. Unfortunately, several species - including some sub-species of rhinos and tigers - are doomed to extinction within years.
Dan Stobbe, a guide-outfitter, asked Marr a pertinent question. Pointing out that the Nisga’s treaty allows for the killing of Grizzly bears for ceremonial purposes, he asked if that wasn’t a parallel to the Asian appetite for animal parts. Culture is culture.
Marr had to acknowledge the similarity, and could say only that aboriginal treaties are almost impossible to challenge, though he does lobby against aboriginal trade in bear parts.
Meanwhile, it was reported this week that Ottawa is ready to give the green light to Inuit hunters who want to kill rare bowhead whales because their ancestors used to hunt bowhead. The culture word again.
Even though bowhead numbers are estimated at as low as 3% of what they were in the early 1800s, which means only 450-500 are still alive, the federal government appears to be more concerned about political correctness than saving species.
There comes a time, surely, when culture has to take second place to the survival of species. What good will tiger bone and bear galls do Asian culture when there are no more tigers and bears? What good will killing bowhead whales do the Inuit when the last bowhead has died?
The politicians and bureaucrats who make these decisions have to consider the greater good over immediate political consequences. Lest Canadians get a little pious about the atrocities against wildlife committed in the name of culture in other countries, they should pay close attention to what’s happening in their own backyard.
July 13, 1996, Sat.
The Daily News
by Mel Rothenburger
Impossible to get issue to a vote
Nobody ever promised democracy would be easy. Anthony Marr, who grew up in Hong Kong, is learning all about that in Canada.
Marr was in town this week as part of a tour of BC cities setting the stage for what he hopes will be a provincial referendum on bear hunting. Asidse from the cogency of his argument. what struck me most about his objective is the near-impossibility of success.
The hurdles are staggering. First Marr, of the Western Canada Wilderness Committee, had to submit the proposed wording for the plebiscite to the government, then wait for it to be accepted.
Now, he must wait for the official petition period, which starts Sept. 9. Within 90 days of that date, he must hope government-sanctioned volunteers can collect the signatures of 10% of eligible voters in each riding of the province.
In a riding like Kamloops, with 31,000 voters, that’s 3,100 signatures. That’s a lot of signatures. He must repeat that 75 times.
If, by some miracle, he can do it in 90 days, he will submit the petitions to government, which has 42 days to look them over. The government can put it to a House vote, turn it down, or approve going to referendum.
But, if the referendum (more properly called a plebiscite) is approved, it doesn’t just need a simple majority of voters. It requires support from a majority of the total of eligible voters to pass. Supposing an average turnout of around 70%, the plebiscite will have to go about 70% of that 70% to achieve the 50%-plus-one of registered voters. If the turn out is only 49%, the vote is lost, no matter what.
“It is designed for proponents lose,” said Marr.
No wonder the hunters aren’t worried. That didn’t stop a handful of them from showing up at the meeting with the obvious intent of disrupting Marr’s presentation to the maximum extent possible.
Marr has faced this tactic at several other meetings and handles it well. My only quarrel with his approach is that he’s too soft on recreational hunting. He states very clearly he isn’t out to stop hunting per se.
Marr points out that in Asia, bears are being poached to near extinction for Oriental medicines, and that this will put tremendous pressure on North American bears, which are a comparatively untapped market.
He urges hunters to put aside their own interests in favour of giving BC’s bear population a breather until things are brought under control.
Hunters will have none of it. They don't believe Marr’s figures or his intentions. They believe he wants to take away their “right” to go into the bush and shoot things.
Back to my main point. The future of wildlife species is important to everyone, hunters and non-hunters alike.
Given the importance of the issue, one would think a democratic society would try to make it easy to reach a democratic resolution. One would think a good way to handle it would be to provide a means for all sides to talk it out, gather their support, go to the polls and make a rational and informed decision.
It’s not going to happen. Marr and the WCWC simply won’t be able to get it to a provincial vote. So the hunters will win. If you are on their side, you should still be disappointed, because it will be by default and that’s no way to decide on the survival of species, including our own.
July 13, 1996, Sat.
The Times Colonist, Victoria
The Globe and Mail, Toronto
from the Canadian Press
Ban bear-hunt petition set
The Western Canada Wilderness Committee has cleared another hurdle in its bid to end sport and trophy hunting of bears in BC.
Chief Electoral Officer Robert Patterson has announced in the BC Gazette that approval in principle has been given to the group’s initiative petition.
The 90-day signature campaign is et to begin Sept. 9.
Committee director Paul George said an estimated 5,000 volunteer canvassers are needed to collect a minimum of 207,000 signatures.
At least 10% of registered voters in each of BC’s 75 electoral districts must sign up during the period.
If successful, the anti-bear-hunting petition would be submitted to the BC legislature to consider a new law or call a province-wide referendum on the issue.
July 16, 1996, Tue.
The Elk Valley Miner
Group seeks to ban all BC bear hunting
The Western Canada Wilderness Committee is kicking off a campaign to collect enough signatures to have a provincial referendum abolishing bear hunting in BC.
Anthony Marr, the Committee’s referendum organizer, who is traveling though BC to enlist volunteers . . . was in the Elk Valley last Thursday to meet with local supporters.
He declined to name local supporters, saying that they wished to remain anonymous due to conflicting agendas . . .
The Sierra Legal Defence Fund drafted a proposed Bear Protection Act for the WCWC which they hope to have passed and adopted. It amends the Wildlife Act by prohibiting bear hunting and making it an offence to hunt bears except as provided to specific sections of the act. For conviction of a first offence, offenders would be liable to a maximum fine of $250,000, and minimum fine of $25,000 and term of imprisonment not exceeding six months.
These penalties would of course be applied to poaching, since all bear hunting would have become illegal. . . .
July 17, 1996, Wed.
by Jennifer Lang
A vote for the bears
There are plenty of bears in BC, right? Here in the northwest, they wander into gardens or backyards during the summer, and are frequently seen by the side of the road; hardly the behaviour expected from an animal that needs more protection.
“Just wait,” warns Anthony Marr, head of the BET’R (bear, elephant, tiger & rhino) Campaign for Western Canada Wilderness Committee. “The poachers are coming. They already are here. They’ve already pillaged parts of BC, and those who can say ‘There are plenty of bears’ are the lucky ones. But they won’t stay lucky for too long if we don’t do something about it.”
Marr is spearheading a campaign to stop all recreational and trophy hunting of bears in BC. . . . He stopped in Terrace recently during an 8-week tour of the province . . .
July 18, 1996, Thur.
The Daily News, Nelson
July 19, 1996, Fri.
Alberni Valley Times, Port Alberni
The Trail Times, Trail
by Jolanda Waskito
Crusader for bear-hunting ban has tough sell
If wildlife crusader Anthony Marr has his way, British Columbia will vote in a referendum on whether or not to ban bear hunting in the province.
. . . . But, he’s facing a tough task, especially as he tours the East Kootenays and comes up against local hunters.
Ray Wilson, a member of the East Kootenay Hunters Association, questioned whether the bears are in trouble at all.
“I think they’re more than holding their own. In fact, I think they’re doing better than they were 15 years ago,” said Wilson, adding that environmentalists who want to ban hunting are choosing the wrong target.
“If you end hunting, then you lose some valuable allies in the forefront of conservation in North America for more than a century.
“Because they want to hunt bears, they have an interest in preserving them. They’ve been working at it for a long time.”
Wilson said it would be more fruitful to focus on the major threat to bear populations - habitat loss. For example, a broad range of hunting groups supported creation of the Kutzeymateen Grizzly sanctuary, a successful conservation campaign involving WCWC.
Preserving habitat in the face of urban expansion or resource extraction is a far more difficult and meaningful challenge than banning hunters, who make easy targets, Wilson said.
July 19, 1996, Fri.
Comox Valley Echo
Ursine good fortune on Denman
Rumour has it that the Black bear my neighbour spotted strolling along our driveway a couple of weeks ago is still roaming freely from one end of Denman Island to the other. It is, in fact, the same animal sighted repeatedly since last fall, he or she has been unknowingly subject to some exceptional good fortune. I’m sure the majority of folks living in the Comox Valley region are well aware by now that such close proximity to human interests often spell dire consequences for Black bears throughout our province. But they may not know of the proposed referendum plan to spare this species the fate of the Grizzly (which, at its current rate of eradication, is headed for the endangered species list within the next decades), or understand the validity of such foresight.
On the evening of June 16, Western Canada Wilderness Committee’s BET’R Campaign director Anthony Marr shared an enlightening audio visual presentation in the Denman Hall, exposing the crisis faced by tigers, rhinos, elephants and bears around the world. . . .
. . . . In Port Alberni, just before his Denman engagement, a room full of hunting advocates showed up to protest Marr’s presentation before they themselves could witness the disturbing footage of bears being slaughtered tortuously and pictures of carcasses left to rot by the side of logging roads almost intact - minus gall bladder and paws. . . .
uly 20, 1996
by Maurice Smith
Hunters bear down on meeting
Sportsmen say Committee presenting inaccurate information against bear hunting
The head organizer of a campaign to force a referendum on the province’s annual bear hunt was forced to change venues when a group of hunters crashed his meeting.
Anthony Marr of the Western Canada Wilderness Committee was in Penticton as part of a province-wide organizational tour to put volunteers in place to canvass for signatures. He had intended the meeting to be private, but when word got out, up to 50 prohunting advocates turned up to show their opposition to the plan.
“I was there to discuss my future and present some rebuttal,” said Ross Everatt of Keremeos, a director of BC Wildlife Federation.
He said he called a number of people when he found out about the meeting..
Everatt said that the Committee is presenting inaccurate information in what he describes as an emotion-packed, but unscientific position against bear hunting. . . .
Everatt, a bear hunter, calls Marr’s poaching numbers a gross overestimation . . .
“We are getting pretty fed up with the propaganda we are hearing,” said Everatt. . . .
July 21, 1996, Sun.
The Morning Star
by Richard Rolke
Bear ban shot down
North Okanagan hunters are afraid that a ban on killing bears in BC could actually increase the slaughter of bruins and put more people at risk.
“If we stop hunting, conservation officers will have to kill more bears, because there will be more bears coming down into the valley,” said Hoss Short, president of the Vernon Fish and Game Club.
Short is upset with a campaign by the Vancouver-based Western Canada Wilderness Committee to hold a province-wide referendum to prohibit the shooting of bears.
“It’s a misdirected idea,” said Short, adding that a ban could lead to a surge in the bear population, which means they would visit urban areas more and put human life and property in danger.
He also believes a ban on bear hunting could cripple the economic viability of many small communities, especially those in the Interior and northern BC.
“Hunters spend big money hunting game and they spend a lot on licenses. The money from licenses goes towards helping our game,” said Short.
“There are a lot of hunters who go out and never harvest an animal, but they spend a lot of money. A lot of towns survive on hunting.”
Short is concerned that voters in BC’s urban areas, such as Vancouver, could back the idea and allow a referendum to pass although the impact wouldn’t affect them.
WCWC’s referendum campaign is also being watched closely by conservation officers based in the North Okanagan.
“My main message to them is to have those groups direct more of their activities towards reducing the problem (between bears and people),” said officer Murray Vatamaniuck.
According to Vatamaniuck, most conservation officers across the province are swamped with calls from people who see bears in yards. The bears are often attracted by the smell of garbage, barbecues and pet food.”
“Enforcement time of legislation is almost zero because of wildlife calls. They’re time-consuming.”
Vatamaniuck believes there has been a slowdown in sport hunting in the North Okanagan and that may reflect in an upswing in the number of bears being spotted.
“We’ve noticed an increase in the bear population because of logging, which helps improve bear habitat, and a decrease in hunting.” . . .
“Although bears are not yet considered endangered, at today’s rate of hunting, poaching and habitat loss, they soon will be,” said Anthony Marr, WCWC spokesman. . . .
July 24, 1996, Wed.
by Jean Russell
WCWC loaded for bear
Petition drive launched
Western Canada Wilderness Committee campaigner Anthony Marr was in Kelowna on Friday rallying volunteers to collect more than 220,000 signatures on a petition supporting the total ban of bear hunting in BC. . . .
Marr made it clear on Friday that he is not interested in talking to hunters. He candidly stated that the Committee’s proposed legislation banning hunting has been written without consulting them.
However, about 15 pro-hunters turned out at the meeting in Kelowna on Friday.
Don Guild, secretary treasurer of the Okanagan branch of WCWC, said Monday the hunting supporters made it difficult to make progress. “They want to dispute Marr’s figures even before he gave them, but it was not just a shouting match.”
Guild said an equal number of ban supporters were at the meeting and he expects many more will volunteer to collect signatures.
The figures the prohunters dispute is Marr’s contention that one or two bears are poached for every bear legally killed.
Matt Austin, large carnivore specialist at the Wildlife Branch of the Environment Ministry, said the provinces official figure is more like one bear poached for every four killed legally.
Austin said bear poaching is big in some parts of the province and virtually non-existent in others.
Kelowna conservation officer Ed Seitz hasn’t heard of any bears being poached in this area in the three years he’s worked here.
Marr . . . says bear poaching is destined for a sharp increase because the Asiatic bear population has been nearly wiped out by hunting, while the demand is constantly on the increase.
. . . Austin said he hasn’t observed a significant increase in poaching in BC in recent years.
Poaching “is there but there’s been no dramatic increase”. Austin suggested the province’s 1994 legislation banning trade in bear parts may be keeping the number in check. And hunting for trophy is discouraged by the requirement that hunters take all the meat off the bear’s carcass, not just the hind-quarters as was previously required.
A special investigation unit of the Wildlife Branch that goes undercover to route out poaching has laid 500 illegal hunting charges since it was founded in 1993.
John Holdstock, provincial president of the prohunting BC Wildlife Federation, called Marr’s plan for a total ban “ridiculous”.
“There is always a level of poaching everywhere,” Holdstock said. “It’s certainly something we have to keep an eye open on.” He suggested the WCWC would do better by helping control poaching in the field.
The BCWF is expanding its Wilderness Watch program, Austin said. Under the program, hunters in the field keep an eye on what’s going on and report any suspicious activities to their local conservation officers. Signs are posted in the wilderness, advertising a 1-800 number to report poaching.
Holdstock said the Federation will register its opposition to the hunting ban with the provincial government by August 12.
July 24, 1996, Wed.
The Morning Sun
by Valerie Baker
Taking aim at hunting and poaching
. . . Last week, the WCWC was granted approval in principle for an Initiative Petition to force a province-wide referendum to ban bear hunting in BC.
. . . “During the next 60 days, we will be scrambling to get as many official canvassers to gather signatures as we can,” says Paul George, WCWC’s founding director. . . .
WCWC BET’R campaign director Anthony Marr is currently on an 8-week provincial tour garnering support for the project.
Since his presentation in Qualicum Beach on June 17, around 30 local people have volunteered to be canvassers.
Not all ridings welcome Marr’s crusade, particularly Prince George and Kamloops, which he visited recently. Hunters there challenged him on his statistics regarding bear population, and some said he should be targeting the Asian countries who buy bear parts.
Rodney Wiebe, president of the Parksville-Qualicum Fish and Game Association, maintains BC has a healthy population of both Black and Grizzly bears, and criticizes WCWC for “discrediting hunters, when it’s the huge development corporations who could affect their habitat.”
BC Wildlife Federation immediate past president Bob Morris disagrees with the number of illegal bear poaching quoted by WCWC. “They are pulling numbers out of hats . . . saying that for every bear taken legally, one or two are taken illegally . . . It’s a misconception; in fact, the population has increased,” he says. Morris plans to visit with environment minister Paul Ramsey to dispute the facts WCWC is quoting.
“I agree with WCWC’s stand on illegal bear trading, but if we start to manage wildlife based on emotion, we may as well do away with the professional biologists.” . . .
Opponents of the proposal to ban legal sport hunting who plan to conduct initiative advertising are required to register with the Chief Electoral Officer by August 12.
Meanwhile, WCWC director Paul George is calling the initiative petition “a bureaucratic nightmare” and says the procedure to sign up canvassers is “a cynical act by the government.” . . .
“It’s going to require a massive effort and we are counting on the ‘Silent Majority’ to speak out,” says Marr.
July 27, 1996, Sat.
The Vancouver Sun
by Elizabeth Aird
Chinese debate Chinese in new tree-protection bylaw
Racial tensions will be inflamed by a new group of Chinese-Canadian homeowners who oppose tougher tree-cutting rules in Vancouver, an environmentalist has charged.
Anthony Marr of the Western Canada Wilderness Committee, who is himself a Chinese Canadian, was commenting on the creation this week of the Vancouver Homeowners’ Association.
The group was started by Hanson Lau, a talkshow host and part-owner of the multicultural radio station CHMB, after callers to the Cantonese open-line show objected to proposed amendments to the tree-cutting bylaw.
Marr, who has helped Kerrisdale residents lobby city hall for stricter tree-cutting regulations, said he joined the urban tree protection movement to show, in the background of Anti-Chinese feelings for their cutting too many trees, that there are Chinese people who want to protect and preserve them out of respect for the community.
He said a Chinese-initiated Homeowners’ Association puts the issue right back into the racial arena. “I think it will heighten racial tension and I would like to make a statement as a Chinese person that I oppose what they are trying to do.”
But, said Lau, “this issue is not just a Chinese issue. It’s a tree bylaw that’s going to be applied to the whole city of Vancouver, not just to the Chinese people. They can see that it’s not a fair law. In general, we don’t like city hall ruling our lives any more than necessary.”
Because he broadcasts in Cantonese, Lau said, he draws Chinese listeners, some of whom wanted to fight the proposed amendments.
At a Thursday press conference held by Lau and six founding members of the association, speaks said that they are not anti-tree. “We want the best for our trees, but we just want the bylaw to be fair to the house-owners’ property rights, “ said Don Lee of East Vancouver.
Matrena Fong, vice-president of the group’s working committee, said she chose Dunbar over Richmond when she moved here from Hong Kong because she loves trees. But she said homeowners shouldn’t have to get permission from city hall to cut certain trees. “It takes a lot of time and sometimes we can’t wait. It’s too much controlling and it really infringes on our property rights.”
Kerrisdale resident George Strazicich, the only non-Chinese supporter to attend the group’s founding meeting, said, “People complain about monster houses, but there are monster trees. If they are in the way, get rid of them.”
While the new association says it has collected 220 letters and a 156-name petition criticizing the bylaw, the assistant editor-in-chief of the Cantonese newspaper Ming Pao said his readers haven’t shown strong feelings about it.
City council enacted interim tree-cutting restrictions July 11, but decided to postpone its decision on bylaw amendments and conduct a citywide survey. The results go to council Tuesday.
The amendments prohibit cutting trees with a diameter of more than 20 cm. (8 inches) on private property without city permission.
July 31, 1996, Wed.
The Salmon Arm Observer
by Gordon Priestman
Seeking support for bear referendum
Anthony Marr brought his one-man crusade to Salmon Arm Thursday night. . . .
In what seems close to Mission Impossible, Marr has been touring the province since the beginning of June, holding one meeting a day and sometimes more, seven days a week. . . .
Along the way he’s run into a lot of opposition from organized hunter groups but that doesn’t deter Marr . . .
Of course, Marr is not turning his back on the poaching problem. . . .
Marr is also spending tremendous amounts of time with BC’s Asian communities trying to educate people . . .
But its a slow struggle against centuries of tradition. . . .
August 1, 1996, Thur.
The Daily News
Save the bears
Anthony Marr from the Western Canada Wilderness Committee is not alone in his quest to have bear hunting banned in BC.
Organizations and an ever-growing number of individuals are supporting his endeavour. However, a huge hunting, guiding and gun lobby will use all the firepower in their possession to defeat the proposal.
Although a ban on bear hunting would challenge old traditions, the core of the issue is financial. Millions of dollars are brought in by foreign clients of guide-outfitters, and this is only one link in a long chain of bear hunting profit spin-offs. Participants in the bear-killing business are not about to give up their lucrative enterprise without a battle.
Even if WCWC’s efforts to stop bear hunting by plebiscite fails, the issue will be moved into the political arena. In time, that will be where the fate of the bears, as well as all wildlife will be decided. That is, if the democratic system we are so proud of is not undermined by private enterprise.
The question of culture serves well as a smoke screen. In reality, what drives the Asian market for bear parts is greed. Again, profits in the trade of bear parts outweigh the risks. Asian bear populations are decimated, and BC has bears and enough unscrupulous people to sell their parts illegally. Not all of those are poachers; the bear parts trade is a complicated network that is spun well out of the public’s eye.
The concession to First Nations of allowing Grizzly bears to be killed for ceremonial purposes is ludicrous. Culture, as all things in life, undergoes changes. As noted in recorded history, indigenous tribes of the Americas practiced human sacrifices as part of their culture. Those ceremonies have evolved to something less murderous as reverence for life increased in human populations. It is hoped that respect for living creatures will override political correctness before BC’s Grizzly populations suffer more serious reductions.
by E. Kohnert
The Fortunate and The Called Upon
at your service
Anthony Marr, Founder and President
Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)
Global Anti-Hunting Coalition (GAHC)
www.DearHomoSapiens.blogspot.com (AM's 3rd-book-in-the-making)