BEAR HUNTERS CONFRONT CAMPAIGN TO PUT THEM INTO PERMANENT HIBERATION
Alberni Valley Times
Bears, whether Black, Brown, Grizzly or Polar, are not endangered species in North America. Mark Lee 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 to 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 Lee. He also said that some hunters and guides make this impossible, because they are themselves poachers.
Lee 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 Lee, is too high.
Members of the audience disputed Lee’s numbers saying that, on Vancouver Island at least, the Black bear population has been increasing by 15% for the last 10 years. Lee 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 Lee’s main thrust was to shut down legal hunting when the problem is poaching. Lee 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 Dennis 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!” Lee 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 proceed.”
Lee 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. Lee 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. Lee said, “The bears you kill are not nuisance bears, and 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. Lee countered that lots of capitalists have no conscience either.
Another man was convinced that if WCWC is successful in shutting down bear hunting, it will try to shut down all hunting. Lee said, “If another hunted species becomes threatened or endangered, I would champion its cause as well.
Back to poaching, Lee 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.” . . .
FUR FLIES AT MEETING TO BAN BEAR HUNT
The Prince George Citizen
It was barely civil and sometimes downright ugly. In the end, it took a representative of the Western Canada Wilderness Committee close to two hours to deliver a plea for help to ban bear hunting in BC. Anthony Marr was interrupted, shouted down, and generally abused by hunters in an audience of more than 100 that spilled out of the conference room at the Civic Centre Thursday evening…Marr had barely begun…before he was attacked…
ACTIVIST PLEADS FOR BEAR HUNT BAN
The Daily News, Kamloops, BC
With calm and respect, Anthony Marr faced rapid-fire questioning from hunters and threw back a plea for them to stop hunting bears…
BEAR HUNT FOE ATTACKED IN CITY
Beaten but unbowed – Mark Lee says he is undeterred in his campaign despite beating.
The Vancouver Sun
An environmentalist known for his opposition to bear hunting and the black market for animal parts was recovering Tuesday after being attacked in Vancouver’s West End.
Mark Lee said he was waylaid about 7:30 p.m. Monday in the 1600 block of Haro Street as he made his way to his car after a dinner with his parents at their home.
Environmental groups have been complaining about a sharp increase in threats of physical violence directed at their members.
“I was parked in the lane”, Lee said. “There was this guy waiting for me by my car. He advanced a few steps and said, ‘Are you Mark Lee?’ I said yes and he immediately launched his attack. It happened so fast I didn't even have time to turn the other cheek.”
Lee… said his assailant was “over six feet and around 200 pounds” and rained blows upon his head and face, fracturing facial bones and damaging his eye socket.
“Then he said, ‘Let this be a lesson to you,’ and walked off,” Lee said.
The University of British Columbia Hospital confirmed that Lee was admitted and treated in the emergency ward shortly after 7:30 p.m.. Vancouver city police confirmed receiving his report of the attack about 8:40 p.m.
Lee recently led a controversial and widely publicized Western Canada Wilderness Committee campaign to have bear hunting banned in BC.
He has also been active in successfully pressuring government for controls in the black market on endangered species parts in the Asian community…
Lee’s silver 1993 Mazda sports car and its license plate became well known during the anti-hunting campaign, he says.
Lee drove 12,000 kilometers and visited almost every significant community in BC during the summer of 1996, holding public and private meetings that laid the groundwork for a province-wide initiative petition towards driving a referendum vote on banning bear hunting.
Campaigners obtained 93,000 signatures in a 90-day blitz that mobilized 1,800 volunteers, but fell well short of the 250,000 or 10 percent of the electorate - needed to force government action under recall and initiative legislation.
The initiative campaign, however, gave Lee a high media profile.
He said he was constantly harassed by pro-hunting (forces). Pickup trucks tailgated his car and he received anonymous threats of violence by phone.
“My reaction is that it merely strengthens my resolve to continue with this campaign,” said Lee...