Elephant. Photo © Jim Bowen, via flickr and Creative Commons

The killing of Cecil the Lion by big-game hunters in June outraged the world.

Thirteen-year-old Cecil lived in Hwanga National Park, Zimbabwe, where he was a major attraction for wildlife tourists. He may have been lured out of the park prior to being killed.

Yet this is one animal, albeit a charismatic, celebrity critter. Thousands of wildlife crimes occur every year. The World Wildlife Fund estimates, for example, that customs officials intercept ivory from only about 11 per cent of the 50,000 African elephants poached every year.

Here in B.C., officials have helped uncover some wildlife crimes recently. More »

Orca breaching and blowing. Photo © digicla via Creative Commons and flickr

Among groups of people, ignoring somebody is often considered a sign of disrespect. The word disrespect itself means disregard, overlook, to not acknowledge or look at something.

Over the last dozen years, we have seen disrespect for federal legislation. The Species at Risk Act became law in December 2002, but for most of its existence it has been disregarded by the very government responsible for enacting the law.

No wonder citizen groups are striking out independently. For example, the Raincoast Conservation Foundation, the Dogwood Initiative, Northwest Wildlife Preservation Society and South Vancouver Island Anglers Association recently announced they would start taking their own action to save the region’s orcas.

The feds declared southern resident orcas endangered 12 years ago. The Species at Risk Act requires the government to develop recovery strategies and action plans for the species within a set period. However, the required federal action plan to protect orcas remains incomplete….

Read the rest of this editorial at the Victoria Times Colonist….

Olympia Oyster. Photo © Deep Bay Marine Field Station, Vancouver Island University, www.viu/deepbay

Beneath the quiet surface of the Gorge Waterway and Portage Inlet, life, death and survival play out in a drama affecting a rare, tasty B.C. marine species.

The Olympia oyster is the only oyster species native to the province. Once abundant from Alaska to Panama, it disappeared from much of its habitat by the early 20th century, a victim of its own tastiness, overfishing, and waters contaminated with sewage, chemicals and sediment that poisoned and suffocated the oyster beds. The fished-out waters included the Gorge Waterway, from which the oyster was considered locally extinct by the 1920s.

The state of Olympia oyster populations in the province remains such that Canada’s Species at Risk Act lists it as a species of special concern.

However, the oyster has surprised everyone. Some years back, researchers found the small, unprepossessing-looking mollusc had returned and set up house in the Gorge.

Read the rest of this editorial at the Victoria Times Colonist….

Sea Otter Moms with Pup, Morro Bay CA 13 Dec 2010. Photo © Mike Baird, www.bairdphotos.com

“Sea otters, bah!” Nature Boy says, tongue in cheek. “They’re too easy to love. How can you respect a plush toy?”

Nature Boy is responding to recent reports of sea otters off Langara Island, in Haida Gwaii, and elsewhere on our coast. Although still not common in mid-B.C. waters after its 1970s’ re-introduction, the small marine mammals are slowly repopulating their historic range.

The sea otter’s return is one of Canada’s conservation successes. Confirmed as extirpated by the 1920s, listed as “threatened” in 2002, the sea otter is now considered a “species of concern.”

Nature Boy continues, “Now, the sea urchin—that is a remarkable animal. It has these amazing, intricate jaws….”

“—No match for sea otter jaws,” I interrupt. “Nor is the sea urchin a species at risk. Unlike the sea otter. Or the abalone.”

“Abalone are pretty cool, too,” he admits. “They have those weird breathing holes in the shell, and of course lovely mother of pearl. And they taste real good, too.”

Always a disadvantage for an animal….


Read the rest of this editorial at the Victoria Times Colonist.