Wednesday, April 17, 2013

1996-06-14 Albernie Valley Times article

June 14, 1996, Fri.
Alberni Valley Times
by Diane Morrison

Hunters confront Anti-Hunter who campaign to put them into permanent hibernation

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 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 Marr. He also said that some hunters and guides make this is impossible, because they are themselves poachers.

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 continue.”

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 either.

Another man was convinced that if WCWC us 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 tigers and rhinos 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.”...

1996-06-14 Field Journal #9 @ Qualicum Beach on Port Albernie

June 14, 1996, Friday, mostly sunny

[12:02 @ Annette and Scott Tanner’s in Qualicum]

TGIF - Thank God it’s Friday - if only because it is the day after Thursday. And what about Thursday? It was the night of the dreaded Big Confrontation in Port Alberni, and it lived up to expectations and more.

By the time I reached the Tanner’s house it was shortly after 17:00. 17:00 was the time set for the interview with Chris Beacom of the Parksville-Qualicum News. Expecting to be slightly late, I had called Erica and asked her to entertain Chris until I arrived. Erica had been given strict instructions by E-Team and myself not to act as a spokesperson, especially with media, but when I did arrive, which was about 17:10, Erica had gone deep into her own interview, and she carried on for another 15 minutes even knowing that I was there. I didn’t go into the room to interrupt them because I didn’t want to seem impolite. Chris, however, eventually asked if I was Anthony Marr and, once knowing that I was, turned the interview on to me. But even after that, Erica still did not desist, and kept on interjecting and interrupting me, as if competing for air time. And some of the things she said was not particularly in line with what we stood for and what we were doing, which would serve at best to distract from our road tour’s main thrust which is anti-hunting. I had no idea of what she had said to Chris. I guess the article will tell.

But this, compared to what happened in the evening, was just a tiny annoyance. What transpired was a horrific free for all, the “all” being the 60+ hunters in an audience of about 65, all crammed into a room meant for no more than 30. It was a hot summer night, and the body heat and the red hot verbal exchange made it resemble an oven, and the oven doors were jammed by hunters. Of the five or six supporters, at least two or three were so intimidated that they slipped away unnoticed, leaving Maureen Sager, my local host, and two or three other women to hold the bag.

The hunter group included two or three guide-outfitters and a conservation officer who was overtly chummy with the hunters. About two-thirds were men and one-third were women, the latter attired from T-shirts and jeans to business suits and high heels, but all with hints of blood lust in their eyes, especially as they unflinchingly stared at me. No doubt, however subconsciously, they looked upon me and Erica as their collective quarry tonight. And when they fired their verbal barrage, they did it in pack form, often when I was in mid-sentence. I estimate that of every ten sentences I attempted in my slideshow presentation, I could finish maybe two.

Maureen, an active woman in her 60s, did her best to keep order, but was totally ignored, and at times assaulted by such words as, “This guy flies in and out, but you have to live here. So watch your mouth, lady!”

Another jeered, “Not only is this guy from out of town, he is from out of the country, for God’s sake, and he has the gall to barge in here and tell us what we can and can’t do!”

An older man echoed, “All Chinese immigrants should be charged $100,000 for the damage done to the Canadian culture, like what this guy is doing right now!”

About a third thorough my slideshow, I found myself turning off the projector and saying, “Fine. If you want a debate, we’ll have a debate.” Strangely, this put some order into the proceedings, since then they would be interrupting one another if they spoke more than one at a time.

Basically, their message to us, obviously predetermined, was “scrap your campaign, or else”. The milder ones were thoughtful enough to say, “change your campaign to strictly anti-poaching but pro-hunting, and we’ll support you, or else”.

If the men were bad, like punching in the gut, some of the women were worse, like pinching your sensitive zones. One said, “What you’re trying to do is to deprive my son of a great heritage that his forefathers created and God condoned, and his father, and his mother, now enjoy.” Another said, “If you don’t play the game, honey, you don’t make the rules.”

Through the first hour, Erica sat on the sideline. Finally, she could contain herself no longer, and stood to make a point. Before she could finish her sentence, as was now the norm, another older man shouted, “Young lady, you are not old enough to lecture me.” I pointed at the “honey” woman, who appeared to be in her mid-thirties, and said, “I’ve been listening to this young lady for the last hour. It’s about time you listen to this young lady,” indicating Erica, “for a few minutes. Go ahead, Erica.” Strangely, the man acquiesced, and stranger still, the “honey” woman gave me a sweet smile.

In contrast to the physical heat which I found hard to tolerate, I found myself handling them in a surprisingly relaxed state, matching wits with them point by point without losing my cool, and in fact enjoying certain moments of this my first major confrontation with a large group of well organized hunters. They maybe good shots through a scope, but are lousy shots through their mouths.

At one point, a hunter said, “Who gives you the authority to do what you’re doing?”

“What do you think of the Chinese tradition of using bear gall bladders for medicine?” I asked back.

“I think that’s obscene.”

“Should it be banned?”

“Damn right! It should be banned, and it is banned, but by the law, not by some freelance environmentalist.”

“I agree with you on this, but I think killing a magnificent creature to hang its head on a wall is equally obscene, and it, too, should be banned, unless, like you, I have a double standard.”

At another point, when one of them was talking about “ethical hunters”, I responded with, “If there are ethical hunters, there must be unethical hunters?”

At another point, I asked them point blank whether they had never deliberately broken any rule, never taken anything on the side, never left any kills unreported, never taken more than their permits allowed, never wounded any animal that got away. “If you have never done any of these, raise your hand,” I challenged them. Almost every hand came up, but many after a few unmistakable seconds’ hesitation.

It is clear that the hunters, in spite of their oft-repeated claim that they are the original and true conservationists of wildlife, care first and foremost for the perpetration of their blood sport, and whatever conservation effort they may exert is first and foremost so that they will have something to hunt.
The intimidation tactic is evidently orchestrated by the BC Wildlife Federation whose own stated prime goal is “to promote the sport of hunting”, although many came close to admitting that for those who shoot from their 4X4s on logging roads, there is no sport at all.

They view our attack on the bear hunt as an attack on the entire hunting edifice from the top down, since the Grizzly bear is considered the apex predator of BC, and from the foundation up, considering that Grizzly bear hunt is pure and unadulterated trophy hunting. It strikes me as futile to present to them the government’s over-estimation of the Grizzly bear population and under-estimation of the poaching extent. These numbers suit them and they hang on to them as gospel truth. Their “faith”, like that of the Creationists who ignore all scientific evidence to the contrary, cannot be questioned.

It is clear that it would be futile for us to try to convert them. Our job here is to rally the already converted into a coherent fighting force. But in terms of this evening’s meeting being a work session, it was unproductive and even counter-productive. The few supporters who showed up either disappeared or were too intimidated to sign up, at least in the presence of the hunters. But not all is lost. The plus is that a reporter from the local newspaper was present, and from the readers of his article may emerge a certain number of volunteers. Partly because of his presence, the hunters at least maintained a sense of restraint in terms of physical violence, but they seemed determined to give him something dramatic to report, and I think they did an admirable job in that.

The hunters left the room while we were packing up with the help of our hosts. One of the ladies commended us for being “brave” and another said to me, “Anthony, now I have full confidence that you can talk your way out of any situation.”

Well, debating is one thing. Driving with the pedal to the metal is another. While loading my car, I noticed a truck parked in the shadows about half a block away, engine and lights off, but with two people inside. As I drove off, I noticed that it did the same. I made one or two random turns and the truck followed suit, staying about half a block behind. At a red light, the truck pulled right up to my rear bumper, with its high beam glaring into my rear view mirror. I looked for a police car but couldn’t find any. I looked for the police station and couldn’t find it. Finally, I took the plunge and got on to the highway due east back to Qualicum. The truck did too. I could identify it because it had one head light brighter than the other, and one of the parking lights was out. I did not bring it to Erica’s attention in order not to alarm her or show my own alarm.

We talked for a bit, and she surprised me by coming right out to say that she could sympathize with the hunters’ view point, and that maybe we should re-examine our anti-hunting stance. I thought I heard bits and pieces of this talk yesterday at the Tanners’ when she was talking to the reporter. She admitted that she had been thinking along those lines since almost Day 1. She said that if we dropped anti-hunting and just went for anti-poaching, namely to press for a ten-fold increase in penalties, we would get the support of environmentalists and hunters alike, and that we would certainly succeed. She even went as far as to say that she might start her own anti-poaching referendum if WCWC rejected her idea. She acquitted herself by saying that her first concern was the bears, and that if we won the anti-poaching referendum, lots of bears would be saved, whereas if we stayed our course against legal hunting as well as poaching, we would set up the hunters against us and would surely fail and end up with nothing, and that even if we could succeed, we would force many legal hunters to become poacher. So, she’s lost it, at least our original principle.

I listened to her with one ear, and kept an eye on the review mirror. Erica reclined her seat and soon fell asleep. I increased my speed, and the truck did the same. I slowed down to see if it would pass, but it did not, and if it tried, I wouldn’t let it anyway, not wanting to be blocked. I sped up again, and the truck did likewise, and pulled closer to my bumper the farther we left the town behind. Before long, it didn’t even bother to keep up a pretense and began tailgating. I’ve been tailgated a thousand times by highway loonies before, but these weren’t hotheads but cold-blooded killers. I thought about what I should do next.

I tried the cell phone, but we were outside any service area. Only one thing left. I had to out-run it. My car, a 1993 Mazda MX6 Mystere, is low, aero-dynamic, light and nimble, with a 2.5 litre 164 hp V6 engine under the hood, five-on-the-floor and four wide 205-55-15R V-rated new tires on the pavement, and according to the car magazines can do 0-60 mph in 7 seconds, which is right up there with the Mercedes and BMWs - in performance if not in price. Best of all, with its sport suspension, it has a .86g lateral-g-force tolerance, whereas that of a truck is less than .70g. This means that my car can take a corner much faster without losing traction. The highway was dark and twisty, and cresting and troughing, and hemmed in by thick forest on both sides, which sounds forbidding, but I deemed it advantageous to my car over the truck. So I floored it and took the curves at the limit. The truck, probably with a big V8, could probably gained on the straights, but on this highway it was left in the dust, or was it in the ditch. I kept this up for miles, until I was sure it had given up the chase, and still I maintained a fair clip until I saw the lights of Qualicum. Erica slept through the whole thing, but woke up about then and said, "Why are you driving so fast?" I kept the chase to myself, even from the Tanners, not wanting to sound melodramatic.

This morning, Erica relented and said that she would continue with the current campaign, but how firm would her resolve be? Is it just to keep a job?

This evening, we are going to Nanaimo to give a presentation at the Brecken United Church, 19:00. The event is arranged by George Gibson of Sierra Club. But we received a fax from Bonita yesterday, which Erica didn’t show me, which entailed Bonita to fax another copy directly to me, about Sierra Club being super-pissed-off due to a PSA having been placed in the Nanaimo Times about Sierra Club sponsoring WCWC’s anti-hunting campaign. Sierra Club has always been a moderate group who tries not to offend anyone on either side. I don’t know who put the PSA in, but George is in deep shit with Sierra Club. This is the second time George got into trouble because of us. The first time was when Erica told Diana Angus of Sierra Club, Cowichan chapter, that George had given us a list of Sierra Club members to call to invite to this evening’s Nanaimo event. Diana told Erica that George had violated Sierra Club protocol. I owe George one, no, two.

It is now 13:06. Thus far today Erica hasn’t done any work that I can see. We both know there is no end of work to be done. Now she’s out for a walk and has been gone for more than an hour. I fear that her spirit has gone even farther, and may not come back. Maybe if I had involved her in the highway chase, she might have regained some anti-hunting fire.

1996-06-13 Field Journal #8 @ Campbell River

June 13, 1996, Thursday, mostly sunny

[13:18 @ the Grays’ residence in Campbell River]

Today is going to be the toughest day since the beginning of the road tour. Of course I refer to this evening’s Port Alberni engagement, but also the amount of media done:

- 09:15 phone interview from Ruth’s apartment with Denise of the Campbell River Mirror,

- 10:00 in person interview with Rob of the Port Hardy Gazette at the Gazette office,

- 14:30 in person interview with Quentin Dodd of the Campbell River Courier at the Courier office, and

- 17:00 in person interview at the Tanner’s with Chris Beacom of the Parksville-Qualicum News.

Now, I’m writing this at Wayne and Anita Gray’s, with an hour to spare before the Courier interview. I was drawn back to the Grays as if by a magnet. I just couldn’t stop thinking about them since I heard their tragic-heroic story. Most of all, I was haunted by the moment when their children were burnt to death. I have no doubt that Tears in Heaven would have the same effect on them as it does on me, no matter how much time has passed. This alone brings them deep into my being. Although I haven’t yet shared with them my Christopher story, I know they know I understand.

The drive from Port Hardy back to Campbell River was meditative. Inevitably, I was drawn back into the Gray’s journey through pain. I thought if I were them, back then, when my beloved children were incinerated within reach of me, and their screams were echoing every moment in the chambers of my heart, and themselves suffering the worst of physical agonies, I would wish for death. Perhaps they did, too. And yet they lived, and recovered, and brought up two subsequent children, and now, without a doubt, are savoring very moment of their meaningful lives. The very fact that they are alive strikes me as miraculous. How I could even think about dying not that long ago is now beyond me. Now, it is the legendary “So much to do; so little time.”

1996-06-12 Field Journal #7 @ Port Hardy + article

June 12, 1996, Wednesday, sunny with clouds

[21:22 @ Ruth Howard’s apartment, #404 – 7450 Rupert St., Port Hardy]

I took the 09:50 ferry from Cortes to Quadra, but not before I had sat with George and Mary on their rear deck for cereal and coffee. As usual, when I arrived at a host’s place, it was after dark, and as usually, the morning sun revealed something wonderful and breath-taking. Here, it was a large and mystical-looking pond just off the deck, festooned with water lily pads and inhabited by hundreds of multi-coloured Coy gold fish, adults and their offspring. And as with my other hosts, Mary and George treated me like royalty.

While waiting for the ferry at Cortes, I called the Grays at Campbell River which lies along the way to Port Hardy, and was invited to their place for tea. When I arrived at their place, I noticed a BMW 750 touring bike. I joked about us switching vehicles for two days, so that I could ride the bike to Port Hardy and back. Seriously, he told me about his motorcycle accident in which he hit a deer at about 120 km/h, lost control of the bike and skidded a long way on his leather jacket until it was worn right through. This instigated me to tell them about the Scott Tanner plane crash and how he was soaked in gasoline, which in turn brought out from the Grays the following heart wrenching story:

Wayne and Anita, back in 1972, had a near new Mustang. One day, they were caught in a dust storm and was rear-ended by a truck which was having a race with another truck. The Mustang’s gas tank was ruptured and burst in flames. The two trucks just took off. The fire inside the cabin started from the back seat. Their two young children (ages 4& 2) in the back seat were burnt to death. Anita and Wayne themselves sustained burns over 70% of their bodies. The car doors were jammed by the impact. They were also tied down by their lap belts. The rear part of the car was a ball of fire and the flames were searing their backs. After some time, Wayne’s seat belt burned off and he could move but still could not open the door. Somewhere along the line, a 70 year old man appeared and single-handedly tore the iron-hot doors off their hinges. First he pulled Wayne out, then reached into the inferno to undo Anita’s belt buckle, and pulled her out too, sustaining burns himself. Shortly afterwards, he lost the use of both shoulders and arms, having overstressed them in the process.

A number of days later, when Wayne was still wrapped in bandages, with skin grafts galore underneath, it was announced that he could go and see Anita. When he got there, he had a hard time recognizing her, except for her breasts, which were not burnt. After numerous skin graft operations, the Anita today is a beautiful woman in her 50s, with only the right side of her neck showing some faint scar tissue. Wayne himself had almost no scar to speak of, except, perhaps, in his heart. The last sentences refer to those parts of their bodies not concealed by clothing only.

Their telling me this story in camaraderie, and my listening to it with reverence, is our instant bond. When I was making ready to leave for Port Hardy, the three of us shared an embrace that will stay in my arms for a long time.

I arrived at Port Hardy around 15:30. My host Ruth Howard wasn’t home, so I went to do some banking and had some Chinese food at the Pagoda restaurant.

Tonight’s presentation was not as gratifying as the others. I’ve been forewarned that the farther north I go, the colder the reception I would get. What I did not expect is that the cold reception came from a group of invited teachers. First off, much to Ruth’s disappointment, and even embarrassment, only about ten people showed up, mostly from the school where the presentation took place. She expected about thirty. There were clearly one or two enthusiasts, but also, quite unusually, two or three who seemed entirely unmoved. It could be worse, of course, if their unmovedness was in fact suppressed hostility, in which case I should be thankful that they were teachers instead of pro-wrestlers. In the end only three people signed up as volunteer canvassers, including Ruth and her room-mate Matt. Ruth sincerely commented how appreciative she was that I came all this way to give the presentation, and hoped that I find it worthwhile. Well, I do, if only because of her.

Now, I’m sitting comfortably in her modest young-people’s apartment a la Kitsilano – something more on my level. Ruth is only 26, whose handsome face is framed in long and luxuriant brown hair worn naturally. She looks almost totally different from what I thought she would look, even in the wrong age bracket. I thought she was in her late thirties or early forties. Her apartment mate Matt Kliewer is even younger. They are both substitute teachers, Matt from Deep Cove, North Vancouver, and Ruth from Point Grey itself, within blocks of my residence. They’re here because they couldn’t find work as teachers in Vancouver or Victoria. It’s a choice between being a substitute teacher in Port Hardy and a waiter or waitress in Victoria or Vancouver. I commend them for choosing the former. Matt, a kind-faced young man with a crew cut, openly confessed that he has long since given up on finding a woman in Port Hardy. Ruth has a boyfriend called Shane who has a degree in geography, but now working as a tree planter in the Cariboo-Chilcotins. How our country wastes talents!


June 12, 1996, Wed
Alberni Valley Times

Wilderness group brings campaign to Port Alberni

The Western Canada Wilderness Committee (WCWC) is on the road to protect bears. The Bear Referendum Road Tour 1996 will be in Port Albernie on Thursday, June 13.

The goal is to get the government to hold a province-wide referendum banning the trophy and sport hunting of bears in BC.

Because 78% of people in the province are against sport and trophy hunting of Grizzly and Black bears, WCWC believes this is possible, said Anthony Marr, a WCWC campaigner.

... The big order is that between 4,000-7,000 volunteer canvassers are needed.

Organizers will be holding an information meeting in Port Albernie on Thursday, June 13 at 7:00 p.m. at the Friendship Centre.

Signatures must be witnessed by volunteer canvassers who have registered with and been approved by the Chief Electoral Officer.

The 90-day Initiative Petition process will begin in September, Marr said. If the signatures are confirmed by the Chief Electoral Officer, the proposed referendum could be held in September, 1999.

Since the Act was passed in July, 1994, several organizations have attempted to initiate legislation, WCWC said. All have failed, citing over-tough requirements as the reason.

1996-06-11 Field Journal #6 @ Cortes Island

June 11, 1996, Tuesday

[23:36 @ Mary and George West’s place on Cortes Island]

Early this morning, Erica and I hugged each other good-bye, last night’s fight forgiven if not forgotten. We agreed that she will stay at Annette and Scott’s for the next two days, mostly doing phone work, while I visit Quadra and Cortes Islands today, and Port Hardy tomorrow, on my own. There is no point having her sit in the passenger seat of my car for hours on end.

Day after tomorrow, she has the option of going with me to Port Alberni , or stay on at Scott and Annette’s. I warned her of the probability of hunter presence there, but she elected to go. I respect her for that. But I wish that she elected to stay. I don’t want to have to worry about her safety as well as mine.

With the passenger seat empty, I feel a little lonely, but immensely free. I can crank up my car stereo, I can sing to the top of my lungs, I can open my heart to the Universe, I can meditate to the heart of the Cosmos.

I didn’t even mind not being able to get on the 10:30 ferry from Campbell River due to “dangerous cargo” every Tuesday. The 11:30 ferry got me to Cortes Island with time to spare.

In the early afternoon, I had a very pleasant nature hike with Noel Lax and Tanya Store, a young reporter who interviewed me during the hike, using recorder and camera, for the next issue of the Quadra paper.

In the late afternoon I took another ferry and landed on Cortes Island in time for inner at the wooded estate of Shivon Robinsong and Bill Weaver, whose wood and glass house was another one-of-a-kind. They are video documentary producers. It so happened that Diane Hardouin visited them yesterday, and talked about making a bear protection video, featuring me, to be shown in Canada 3000 airliners during flight, asking the passengers to donate their pocket change for my BET”R Campaign. Daine’s daughter Jennifer Jones died recently of a car crash at Whisler. Jennifer was a great lover of bears. In memory of her, Diane started a Jennifer Jones Foundation to raise funds for bear protection. Bill did an impromptu video shoot of me sitting on his sundeck, with big trees in the background, and being interviewed by Shivon, who used the term “whirlwind” to describe the road tour.

The presentation was gratifying, not in number, but in warmth of reception and feedback. Each and every one of the dozen or so people there signed up as volunteers. My hosts of the night are Mary and George West, a handsome middle-aged couple. My abode of the night – their one-of-a-kind log house, in a forested acreage.

Return visit invited by all, as the two Susans did, and for the same reason.

1996-06-10 Field Journal #5 @ Qualicum Beach

From the field journal of Anthony Marr

June 10, 1996, Monday

[23:45 @ Scott and Annette Tanner’s]

Our presentation tonight was at the Courtenay Museum, after a vegetarian dinner at the Bar None Café, which obviously is the local hangout for the anti-hunting set. Not a large audience – about a dozen people - but thoroughly pre-enlightened. As with the Tofino crowd, I could be preaching to the converted except for that it is also an information session, about both the global bear parts trade and the BET’R Campaign, with neither of which are they particularly familiar.

In the audience was the famous and highly respected Ruth Masters – a lady in her seventies who has fought a life time of local environmental battles, and is nonetheless still a fire-brand. She is one of those women who disrupt legal bear hunts – her weapon of choice being a whistle, as featured in Fun Kill. And then, there were two younger local activists, both Susans – Holvenstot and McVittie – who invited me back to address a larger audience, saying that they couldn’t motivate their friends the way I motivated them both tonight. Most if not all in the audience signed up as volunteer canvassers. Henceforth, Courtenay, like Tofino, shall be to me the epitome of a green and friendly town.

A week has gone by, and except for the initial dual with Keith Urchuk in Campbell River, our fear of hunter harassment hasn’t quite materialized. It’s almost disappointing, considering that I’ve already expended the necessary energy to steel myself for the Big Confrontation. But I’m not complaining.

I can actually see storm clouds within our event horizon. So far, our presentations have been more or less by invitation only, but things will soon change. Maureen Sager of Port Alberni, which we shall visit on June 13, Thursday, informed us that she has pre-informed the Alberni Valley Times of the time and place of my presentation. The article will be in the paper on June 12, Wednesday. The first open invitation, first and foremost an invitation to trouble, I suspect.

An effect of the lack of a confronting external enemy thus far is the coming to the fore of the internal confrontation within our team. On the hour-long drive back from Courtenay to the Tanners’ in Qualicum, Erica and I finally “let it all hang out”, which took the physical form of a verbal tempest in the “tea-pot” of my car. But given our basic fondness for each other, it did serve to clear the air between us, and we hugged before going into the Tanner house.

The prospect of a Port Alberni confrontation did serve to keep us together. We approach it as David must have when approaching Goliath. But David had his slingshot. What do we have? With what do we vanquish such inhuman enemy, even just to keep ourselves from harm? Is it just our faith in the humaneness of those who revel in the joy of killing? I feel ill-equipped, even unequipped, to do the job.

1996-06-09 Field Journal #4 @ Qualicum Beach

From the field journal of Anthony Marr

June 9, 1996, Sunday

[11:04 @ Annette and Scott Tanner’s home in Qualicum Beach]

Today is to be spent mostly on the phone to advance book speaking engagements in the interior and to develop contacts. We can’t afford to have too many of these off days, but from an organizing point of view, today would be more constructive off than on, and if used efficiently, this off day can be used to generate many on days. In other words, today is not going to be an off day at all, just no driving.

Last night, I slept from 23:00 to 08:30. After weeks on 4-5 hours of sleep per night on average, finally I enjoyed a full night of uninterrupted rest. I have no idea how I’ve had so little sleep, compounded with the flu, and could still function to capacity these last few days. People are said to be able to perform super-normally under immense stress situations, maybe the pressure of hunter confrontation is actually doing me a favour. Anyway, I should be more on par today than yesterday.

Like Anita and Wayne, Diana and Eric, Cathy and George, Annette and Scott live in a uniquely beautiful house amidst a lovely garden, and specific to Annette and Scott’s, a panoramic view of the Juan de Fuca Strait to boot, and all have hospitality to spare. As usual, I offer to Erica the better bed, but in this house, even the lesser bed is wondrous, lying under a roof of glass, beyond which are the stars.

I must not take these people’s hospitality for granted. It has to be earned. So far, we’ve been earning it, that’s all.

[18:32] Just came back from a long walk with Annette and Scott, and their female Boxer Jessie. The Tanner are as lovely a couple as the other three, but Scott is the only plane crash survivor among them. It was last August, in broad day light. With him was environmentalist John Nelson, and wildlife photographer Myron Kozak, some of whose Kermode bear images grace the walls of WCWC. They were on an air reconnaissance mission in the vicinity of Strathcona Park, when their plane entered a box canyon and could not turn around. It slammed into the trees on the steep side of the canyon. The pilot, a veteran in his seventies, was killed instantly. Myron, who was in the co-pilot seat, was also killed, reportedly instantly, but according to Scott, not. Scott said that Myron stayed alive and conscious, and screamed and groaned, and repeated the phrase “too much pressure”, and expired only after the rescue team had arrived. John Nelson , who shared the back seat with Scott, suffered a broken ankle, and limped out for help. Scott sustained a broken leg, two crushed vertebrae, a cracked pelvis, split sternum, and other internal injuries, but managed to drag himself out of the wreck, in which process he was soaked with gasoline. Both Scott and John tried to extricate Myron but to no avail.

To this day, Scott has a limp, and has to wear a leg brace, but did walk the same distance as did Annette and I. Scott, who is a house-painting contractor, just began to get back to work in May. He believes that he survived for a reason, and I can see that reason in him clear as daylight.


1996-06-08 Field Journal #3 @ Nanaimo

From the field journal of Anthony Marr

June 8, 1996, Sat.

[15:44 @ George and Cathy Gibson’s residence in Nanaimo]

Yesterday’s event in Tofino, organized by a woman named Marika, was the most successful so far, with about 40 people attending, and zero hunters as far as I could tell. We signed up easily 25 people as volunteer canvassers on the spot, who also took application forms to pass on to their friends. A young Indian maiden named Giselle – probably of Nuu Chah Nulth stock since I was walking their ancestral land – gave me a feather as a reward.

After my presentation, Julie Draper - one of the Bear Watch founders, gave a short speech and showed a short video called Fun Kill. Julie, however, didn’t seem all that friendly. Nothing overt, just my gut feeling. Perhaps my presentation took up too much of hers in terms of time, or maybe I was viewed as having stolen her thunder. One way or another, Bear Watch did infuse about $10,000 start-up funds for the project back a few weeks, and I suppose they are entitled to have some say in the matter.

Speaking of Bear Watch, it is a bit of a sensitive issue. Bear Watch is what is known as a direct act group, and WCWC is not. Direct action may involve doing something illegal, such as disrupting a legal hunt, which Bear Watch has been known to do. They would follow the hunters into logging roads and, when the hunters made ready to shoot a bear, the Bear Watch people would blast their car horns or blow their whistles to scare away the bear. Recently, however, just last week or two as a matter of fact, it back fired on them. A group of four Bear Watch women were lured into a secluded spot near Campbell River and surrounded by hunter vehicles so they could not escape, and a hunter jumped on their hood and smashed their wind shield with an axe handle. The women kept their car doors locked and video-taped the proceedings from the inside. The footage was later aired on BCTV. In a similar incident which happened in Campbell River near a police station, the police was said to have declined a plea for help by Bear Watch when called upon. Campbell River, being farther north, is a hunter dominated town.

When WCWC sat down with Bear Watch’s Jan Theunisz to discuss terms of the Bear Watch donation, Jan suggested that we don’t publicize it and keep WCWC and Bear Watch separate in the public eye, for tactical reasons. This made it a little awkward for me, because deep in my heart, I applaud what Bear Watch does, but on the other hand, could not publicly condone their illegal or legally-borderline activities. So, several times, especially in Campbell River, when hunters questioned me regarding WCWC’s involvement with Bear Watch, I disclaimed personal involvement with Bear Watch, which was true. It was also true to the extent that Bear Watch is not directly involved in the campaign. I greatly admire what they do, but my role in bear protection is the Bear Referendum champion.

Billeting was arranged by a 21 year old woman volunteer and member of Friends of Clayoquot Sound called Dana, to be at the Friends’ office. I am honour, because this requires a certain amount of trust. WCWC’s office, for example, is full of inside information not for public consumption.


June 8, 1996, Sat.
The Nanaimo Free Press
by Paul Walton

Wildlife group campaigns for referendum to ban bear hunting

Convinced that BC bears will one day make the endangered species list, activists are beginning a campaign for a referendum, which would ban hunting the animals in the province. As part of a world campaign to save endangered animals, the road tour of Anthony Marr, wildlife campaigner of the Western Canada Wilderness Committee, will visit Nanaimo next week...

The WCWC’s call for a referendum comes shortly after protests this near near Campbell River when several people were arrested for disturbing the hunt. Last year, protesters with Bear Watch successfully opposed an injunction to limit protests in the area. Marr said that WCWC does not engage in civil disobedience, and sees his role as that of a communicator and a facilitator.

“The purpose of this road tour is to set up the infrastructure for the referendum,” he said.

... Although the intention is to ban all bear hunting, WCWC director Paul George said this is not the beginning of a ban on all hunting...

1996-06-07 Field Journal #2 @ Nanoose Bay + article

From the field journal of Anthony Marr

June 7, 1996, Friday

[10:18 @ the residence of Erick Smith and Diana Prestidge in Nanoose Bay]

We stayed last night at the residence of Eric Smith and Diana Prestidge, a house of wood and glass and light at Nanoose Bay near Nanaimo. As with Wayne and Anita, Eric and Diana are total strangers, except for their name’s being under the names of local environmental organizations in our itinerary compiled by myself. The information came from various environmental contact lists from WCWC’s Communication Coordinator Sue Fox and publications such as BC Environmental Network’s green directory. Erica’s job is to contact all these people to ask for their help and participation. One of the things in which they can help is to offer us bed and breakfast. So far, so good. So far, so wonderful, in fact, and not just the food.

Still, I had only 2 hours’ sleep the night before, and no more than five hours last night, still due to sinus blockage. Felt almost totally depleted yesterday. Still somewhat weak-kneed right now.

Nonetheless, I gave a short (15 minutes, allotted) but (someone said) “motivational” speech (without visuals) to a small group (about 15) of WCWC Mid-Island chapter people, including WCWC Director Annette Tanner and her husband Scott of Qualicum Beach, and Nanaimo’s Gay Cunningham and Dirk Becker, among others. I was more or less an adjunct guest speaker in a prearranged speaking event featuring Joe Foy as the keynote speaker. Being a mainly by-invitation-only meeting, few if any hunters were present.

Tonight, the somewhat fabled whale watching town of Toni edging the open Pacific Ocean on the west coast of Vancouver Island, also of Clayoquot Sound fame. The Friends of Clayoquot Sound, many of whose members were among the 700 arrested during the blockade of 1994, including leader Valerie Languor, will be orchestrating the event.

Hate to have this kind of thing happen, much less write about it, but Erica got me upset again this morning without knowing it. Before retiring last night we agreed that she would get up around 08:00 and begin making phone calls (from Eric and Diana’s phone, with their permission) as of 08:30 by the latest. She herself said yesterday that she had more phone calls to make than she had time. By 09:30, she was still chatting with Diana and Eric, and had yet to make the first phone call. Out of politeness to our hosts, I held my peace. But when I asked to use the phone to make my own calls, Erica stopped me and said, “Let me make a few short calls first.” Now, it is past 11, and I haven’t been able to make one call.

Yesterday, I overheard one long distance phone call of Erica’s, which lasted over half and hour, which could have served the same purposed had it lasted only 5 minutes. I did make a comment to this effect to her after the phone call. Her response was a fleeting and half-hearted mention of quitting, which neither of us wanted. I didn’t call her shot.

But soon, I would have to have a big talk with her, not just about the phone call, but the whole project and her place in it. She’ll be upset, and so will I, but it needs to be done, the sooner, the better, for both of us, and the bears, too.

[13:12] The Sierra Club (at Smithers) is siding with the hunter and guide-outfitters and wrote us a letter saying, “… We suggest that you cancel your public meeting, or…” Well, there are environmental groups, and environmental groups.


June 7, 1996, Fri.
The Vancouver Sun

Law to curb wildlife trade

Ottawa -

Environment Minister Sergio Marchi has brought in stiff new regulations to curb the illegal trade in wildlife and plants.

The regulations provide fines of up to $300,000 and jail terms of up to five years for people who illegally import endangered species or who are caught in possession of products made from these products.

For example, a store owner who sells a product made from tiger parts could be convicted under the legislation, passed in 1992, but only recently proclaimed.

Under previous legislation, it was illegal to import tiger parts into Canada, but once smuggled into the country, such parts could be sold openly.

1996-06-06 Field Journal #1 @ Campbell River, BC

From the field journal of Anthony Marr

June 6, 1996, Thursday

[10:20 @ Wayne and Anita Gray’s house in Campbell River]

Finally, our road tour is underway. I say “our” because, although I haven’t seen you for more than three years, you are always in my heart. I think of you each and every day. This paragraph is the proof of this, if only for today. I have proven it in the days bygone, and I will do so in the days ahead.

I started with the wrong foot forward. To begin with, I succumbed to the flu four days ago, still running 102oF on the eve of yesterday’s departure. Even now, I am feeling weak. But through it all, you sustain me, for you are one of the two main reasons of my work: I save tigers for their own sake, and for you.

Now that the tour has begun, I will record it faithfully for you, such that we may share the experience across time, because, as I said, this is our tour.

Yesterday started with a highly successful media conference at the Terrace Room of the Waterfront Hotel – present: BCTV, CBC TV, CKWX (AM 1130), CKST (AM 1410), AM 1320 (Chinese), AM 1470 (Chinese), Ming Pao Daily News (Chinese), etc. About a dozen mikes in front of us, “us” being, from left to right (facing the audience of about 30) and in sequence of speaking: Paul George, Greg McDade (head of Sierra Legal Defence Fund), David Boyd (lawyer of SLDF) and myself. All four of us were dressed in suit and tie - perhaps standard attire for SLDF lawyers, definitely unusual for WCWC campaigners, and downright unheard of for WCWC’s founder.
The phrase that stuck in my head was McDade’s “magnificent quest” with reference to the “Bear Referendum”, when, by appearance and verbal prowess, the green-feathered legal eagles were magnificence personified themselves.

After the conference, we all went back to WCWC for final arrangements, and off we (Erica and I) drove (in my 1993 silver Mazda MX6 LS) to Tsawwassen to catch the “1-o’clock” ferry to the mid-Vancouver Island city of Nanaimo (crossing time 1 hour 45 minutes) from where we would drive two hours to the north-Island city of Campbell River for our first presentation-meeting slated for 19:00 at the Haig Brown House.

We got there in what we thought to be good time – 12:50 – but were told by the woman at the ticket booth that the ferry had left five minutes before, and the next one wouldn’t leave till 15:15! Both of us spontaneously swore up a storm and decided to switch line-up to catch the 13:00 ferry to the provincial capital of Victoria in south Island instead – driving time to Campbell River about four hours. But by loading time, we were the third car cut off, and the 14:00 Victoria ferry was delayed till 14:30. So we switched back to the Nanaimo line-up. By the time we finally got to Campbell River, it was 20:30.

To slow down things even more, since we didn’t know where the Haig Brown House was, we had first to meet a Bear Watch woman called Shari Bondi at the Marina Motel along the highway. My car was so stuffed to the gill that Erica had to go out so Shari could guide me to the meeting place, while Erica and Shari’s daughter Serena took a cab from the motel.

The meeting, by invitation only as organized by our host Wayne Gray, was small – about 12 people – but each was a key representative of a local group, including one Keith Urchuk of the BC Wildlife Federation, who, as soon as I entered the room, came to within inches of my face and said, “I saw you on TV. The price on your head just went up ten thousand dollars.”

I heard myself replying, “Is that all? I’m disappointed.”

But even as I spoke, disappointment was not the sentiment. Nor was it surprise, since we’ve been expecting trouble for weeks. The closest word I can find to describe what I felt is perhaps “disconcerted”. Erica had not arrived to witness the exchange and share the sentiment with me, and that was a little disappointing, since we’ve become a bit of a team.

Urchuk was also disruptive and confrontational throughout my presentation, saying that we had no right to threaten his “right” to hunt. Most of the others were supportive. Since the presentation started more than an hour late, I pretty well rushed through my untried slideshow presentation, followed by a Q&A during which Urchuk heckled me some more. One formidable older gentleman b the name of Noel Lax said that during the war people had to dismantle their iron gates so that the country could have the material needed to manufacture weapons against the Nazis, and that today, in our war to protect threatened wildlife, we have to make some sacrifices, including laying down our weapons. Urchuk, needless to say, was none too pleased. In the end, Erica signed up five volunteers from the group, not including Urchuk obviously, and two more later from the motel.

After the meeting, Wayne Gray led us back to his house where we were billeted overnight, and where his lovely wife Anita made us a late snack of bagels and Doukhobor borsch. Now, as I’m writing, Wayne is making me (Erica is still asleep) breakfast. If we’re treat like this every day by our hosts along the way, we could easily be spoiled.

1996-06-05 "Referendum road tour aims to stop bear hunting"

June 5, 1996, Wed.
The Westerly News
Tofino, BC

Referendum road tour aims to stop bear hunting

BC’s Black and Grizzly bear populations are currently threatened in four ways, according to the Western Canada Wilderness Committee, whose bear campaigner Anthony Marr will be visiting Tofino this week as part of his bear referendum road tour. . . .

Marr says the skyrocketing poaching for body parts, recreational/trophy hunting, “nuisance bear” kills by conservation officers, and destruction of habitat, all threaten the bear population.

“We are convinced that of something is not done now, the bears in BC will go the same way as the elephant, tiger and rhino - on the steep path towards extinction. The Bear Referendum is meant to prevent this downward spiral to oblivion.”

Anthony Marr will be at the Wickaninnish Elementary School in Tofino on Friday, June 7 at 7 p.m. to give a slideshow presentation on bear conservation and on the referendum project . . . .

1996-05-16 "Canvassers out to stop bear hunts"

May 16, 1996, Thur.
The Vancouver Province
by Charlie Anderson

Canvassers out to stop bear hunts

The Western Canada Wilderness Committee wants to put a shot gun to the head of bear trophy-hunting in BC.

And its weapon of choice is the new Recall and Initiative Act that was originally introduced to allow BC voters to get rid of unpopular politicians. . . .

Anthony Marr of WCWC said the move is necessary to help maintain bear populations in the face of sky-rocketing poaching which, by definition, is out of control. . . .

“It is going to require a massive effort, and we are counting on friends in other environmental groups to help out,” said Marr, who will begin his province-wide road-tour to propagate the message in June.

But Doug Walker of the BC Wildlife Federation slammed the move, which he says will penalize legitimate hunters of game.

“Our 35,000 members are people who like to hunt and fish and backpack and go out to the outdoors. They have a valued respect for the wildlife,” said Walker.

“These fringe groups like to come along and marginalize the fact that people hunt to put food on the table. They are not out there just for some blood sport. They are out there because this is part of something they have done for generations and generations.”

1996-05-15 "Bear hunt granted by Make-A-Wish Foundation USA"

May 15, 1996, Wed.
The Vancouver Sun
by Brian Morton

Bear hunt granted by Make-A-Wish Foundation USA

Canada’s Make-A-Wish Foundation says there is no way it would try to fulfill a US teen’s dream of shooting a bear in the Alaska wilderness.

The local chapter has been swamped with called protesting against a 17-year-old Minnesota boy’s being granted a wish by Make-A-Wish America to hunt a Kodiak bear.

“Our policy has been not to grant wishes that include homes, motorized vehicles or hunting trips,” said Susan Phillips, president of the foundation’s BC branch. “As such, this wish would not have been granted by our chapter.”

Robb Lucy, of Make-A-Wish Canada, agrees, “We will be recommending to all our chapters they adopt a similar policy.”

The teen was granted this wish despite protests from animal rights activists and concerns that the non-profit, international foundation - which grants the wishes of children with life-threatening diseases - could lose a lot of support.

“People have called to say they oppose the wish and would withdraw any financial support they’ve given us,” Canadian administrator Catherine Palmer said in Vancouver.

“And that’s one of our concerns. But our money doesn’t leave Canada.”

But Make-A-Wish America decided this week to proceed with granting the $4,000 hunting trip despite the controversy.

“We may suffer some retribution from those in the animal rights community, but we feel we have a commitment to this child and are going to stick by it,” director Douglas Elmets said.

Jana Thomas, of Bear Watch, an organization devoted to protecting bears in BC, said a volunteer has been putting up posters around Vancouver urging people to oppose the Make-A-Wish hunt. . . .

She said Make-A-Wish BC shouldn’t suffer because of what the US chapter is doing. “We support their efforts to help seriously ill children. I know the BC chapter hasn’t done anything wrong and we applaud them for speaking out.”

Anthony Marr, who is leading a Western Canada Wilderness Committee campaign against bear hunting, said that whereas Make-A-Wish Canada is innocent of this act, it is nonetheless associated with Make-A-Wish America and should try to persuade international chapters to decline hunting requests.

1996-05-08 "Chinese Canadian seeking province-wide anti-bear-hunting referendum"

May 8, 1996, Wed.
Ming Pao Daily News, p. A1, top article
by Eric Chan
(translated from Chinese)

Chinese Canadian seeking province-wide anti-bear-hunting referendum

Chinese Canadian environmentalist Anthony Marr is starting an Initiative Petition drive as a first step towards a subsequent province-wide referendum to ban sport/trophy/recreational hunting of BC’s Grizzly bear and the Black bear. If the petition goes to referendum, it would become the second provincial referendum in Canadian history after the recent Quebec referendum, and the first ever generated by the general public.

According to BC’s new Recall and Initiative Act (1995), any individual or organization can start a referendum. The procedure is first to conduct an “Initiative Petition” in all the 75 electoral districts of the province. Within a designated 90-day period, the “proponent” must obtain signatures from at least 10% of the registered voters of each and every electoral district without exception. The would amount to approximately 220,000 signatures in total throughout the province. If subsequently it goes to referendum, or “Initiative Vote”, a 50%+ support vote from all BC’s registered voters in total, and a 50%+ support vote from at least two-thirds of the 75 electoral districts, would be required to win.

Anthony Marr, Western Canada Wilderness Committee’s leader of the BET”R (bear, elephant, tiger $ rhino) campaign, hopes to employ this provision to ban the currently legal recreational/trophy hunting of both the Grizzly and Black bears.

Two previous events gave Marr confidence in the viability of the project. The first is that WCWC, in a previous petition for the protection of Clayoquot Sound, obtained 130,000 signatures from 64 electoral districts. The second is an Angus Reed poll commissioned by the environmental group Bear Watch in 1995, where 91% of those polled opposed the hunting of the Black bear when the purpose is to obtain only the head and hide (trophy) of the animal, and 78% supported the outright banning of bear hunting.

Marr is currently preparing for an 8-week, 12,000 km province-wide road tour to visit all of BC’s electoral districts. His proposed itinerary contains meetings with a broad range of environmental groups, some of which will take on the responsibility to collect signatures in their own electoral districts. He plans to start the tour in early June to network with these groups and to organize the petition. The 90-day petition period has been slated for September to December.

Marr says that as a result of a recent CBC newscast on the project, he has already received phone calls from various parts of the province where people offered help and lodging. He calculates that if the roar tour is entirely self-funded by WCWC, it would cost upwards of $50,000, but with help from various groups, it could be as low as $10,000. . . .

Marr understands that even to satisfy the requirements of this first petition stage would not be easy. Several such efforts on other issues have been tried in BC since last summer, but they have all failed. But even if this project fails, the initiative petition process would generate much media coverage and public awareness, as well as put pressure to bear on the government.

Marr, as well as WCWC campaign coordinator Joe Foy, consider killing bears for pleasure and ego a “barbaric practice”.

1996-05-07 "Help our Grizzlies; stop hunting them"

May 7, 1996, Tues.
The Vancouver Sun
by Nicholas Read

Help our Grizzlies; stop hunting them

Moe Sihota, the provincial environment minister, has taken steps toward protecting Grizzly bears. No one can deny that. He’s announced a new Grizzly bear reserve in Tweedsmuir Park, increased fines for poachers, banned Grizzly hunting in the Okanagan and Southern Selkirks, and established a limited-entry hunting season for Grizzlies.

There is also no disputing that Grizzlies need protection. There are only 4,000-13,000 left in the province - estimates vary according to source - and unless serious steps are taken to ensure that they survive, they won’t.

What is at issue, however, is whether Sihota has done enough.

According to the Western Canada Wilderness Committee, he hasn’t. WCWC campaigner Anthony Marr says the maximum poaching penalty of $25,000, though higher than the previous $10,000, is still merely “a slap on the wrist”, and the 103 hectare Tweedsmuir reserve, while welcome, isn’t anywhere near what Grizzlies need to exist.

The WCWC also says that all sport hunting should be abolished.

That certainly would be the easiest, and arguably least contentious, move the government could make. An Angus Reed poll conducted last year said 78% of British Columbians believe trophy hunting should be outlawed.

That would affect Grizzlies directly, says BC Wildlife Branch chief Ray Demarchi, because Grizzly meat is not fit to eat, meaning the only reason hunters have to kill a Grizzly is for its head, hide and claws.

Yet, Grizzly hunting continues in part because officials like Demarchi, hunters themselves, wish it.

He is a third-generation hunter whose sons have followed his lead. SO you have to take that into account when he explains why Grizzly hunting is permitted.

First: There is a “recreational demand” for it, he says. So people simply like killing bears. Demarchi can’t say why - hunting’s allure is hard to define - but it’s there. As proof, he says 400 BC residents and 1,200 non-residents seek permits to kill a Grizzly each year. About 350 to 400 bears are actually slaughtered legally.

Second: Grizzly hunting gives employment to guide-outfitters and hunting supply stores, Demarchi says.

Third: Hunting makes bears more wary of humans and therefore less likely to invade urban areas where they could be shot as nuisance animals, he believes. However, he concedes there is no scientific evidence for this.

His points are in direct contrast to a ground-breaking, 10-year study of Grizzlies completed in 1992 by biologist Robert Wielgus who concluded that trophy hunting can have a severely deleterious effect on Grizzly populations.

Because government regulations forbid the killing of female bears with cubs, most hunted Grizzlies are large males. Conventional government wisdom says by killing large males there will be more food available for mother bears and cubs.

1996-05-04 What warriors preparing for battle must have gone through

May 4, 1996, Sat.

I am within one month from embarking upon what promises to be the journey of my life, and, frankly, I am filled with a sense of foreboding and trepidation. At best, I will encounter harassment from opponents at every turn. At worst, I could lose my life and that of my assistant – 25 year-old Erica Denison.

And who are these dreaded opponents? They are those humans whose main pursuit in life is to kill magnificent wild creatures of other species for entertainment and ego gratification – trophy hunters, of the “Great White Hunter” tradition, a la Theodore Roosevelt and Ernest Hemingway. And the species of wild creatures in question here in BC? Bears – Grizzlies and Blacks.

The idea of this anti-hunting expedition emerged in my mind less than two months ago. On April 11, in a media conference hosted by the British Columbia provincial government at the Vancouver Public Aquarium, environment minister Moe Sihota announced a set of changes in the so-called Grizzly Bear Conservation Strategy. With high hope in our hearts, my colleague National Campaign Director Joe Foy and I went to attend the conference. Our hope was based on the result of the 1995 Angus Reed poll, commissioned by the conservation group Bear Watch, where over 80% of the respondents said they would support a ban of bear hunting in the province. As it turned out, it was a great disappointment. Not only was bear hunting still condoned, it continued to be actively promoted. The nice-sounding term “limited entry hunt” was project to the public, which in fact would not necessarily reduce on the number of Grizzly bears killed, but would prohibit non-hunters from purchasing hunting licenses and permits intended not to be used such that a number of bear lives be spared.

After the minister’s presentation and Q&A, the media converged upon Joe and me for comment, during which Joe used a phrase that stuck in my mind – “barbaric practice” – to describe the “sport” of trophy hunting.

Days later, I came upon the government provision, available only in the province of British Columbia, called the Recall and Initiative Act. The brain storm was inevitable: if we could use the Act to force a province-wide referendum on the issue of bear hunting, we'd stand a good chance of winning. I took the idea to Paul, Adriane and Joe.

The first step according to the Act, I explained, was to perform an Initiative Petition, which requires the certified signatures from at least 10% of the registered voters in each and every one of the 75 electoral districts within the province, some bigger in area than some small countries, and all have to be collected within a mutually-agreed-upon 90-day period, by “registered volunteer-canvassers”. Only succeeding in this petition could the Referendum Vote proceed. To promote the principle of the project, recruit volunteers, organize the petition, and especially generate local media, someone would have to visit each and every one of the 75 electoral districts throughout the province, in person. I proposed to do it myself.

Not that I was unaware of the risk, but it was only after the proposal had been accepted by E-Team after a few days did it hit me with full force. I would be like a lamb walking into the midst of wolves – those humans who indulge in killing for pleasure - with apologies to wolves who kill only out of need. Since no one I knew of had ever pitted himself or herself against hunters in a full-scale confrontation, their reaction was uncertain, although the chance of physical violence along the way would be substantial. This I was willing to face, but what about Erica? Environmentalists had been hurt and even killed by opponents before. Could I take on the responsibility for her safety?

Erica is a sweet-faced, head strong and energetic woman. She first gained my attention by being a volunteer for my BET’R Campaign. When the expedition was decided upon, and the need of an assistant announced, Erica applied, and at my urging, the E-Team accepted her for the job.

She approached the danger aspect of the expedition with an almost disturbing degree of equanimity, to the point where I began to think that she was making light of the whole situation. But when we finally discussed it, she revealed a deeper layer of herself, where the fear was present, but well managed. She said that she could take care of herself.

She added that she fears more for my safety than her own, on account of my race. The concern was real, considering the presence of US-implanted White Supremacists en route, who would most likely also be hunters. I countered with the factor of her gender.

My apprehension comes and goes. At times, in the middle of the night when one is supposed to be at ones weakest, frightening scenarios would play themselves out in my mind, seemingly with lives of their own, not the least of all is what could happen to Erica.

On her part, with her enthusiastic and efficient though at times insubordinate assistance, the preparation for the Bear Referendum road tour progressed from fits-and-starts to leaps-and-bounds. She has already set up meetings and presentations at Campbell River, Cortes Island, Nanaimo, Victoria, Comox, Port Alberni, Gold River, Salt Spring Island, Pender Harbour - the Vancouver Island cities - for starters. This was done in chronological order according to the itinerary that I have determined.

Now, with only two weeks to kick off, we worked right through the long weekend. Even last night, at 1:30 a.m., I coached Erica on the phone to work with Excel, when she was still in the office, all by herself, which, in that part of the city, took some courage unto itself. Of all her attributes, what impressed me most was not her seeming lack of fear, but her determination in the face of it.

1996-04-12 Anti-Hunting Emergence

April 12, 1996, Fri.
Sing Tao Daily News
(translated from Chinese)

Government expands protected Grizzly Bear habitat and raises poaching penalty

The BC Minister of Environment, Lands and Parks Moe Sihota announced yesterday at the Vancouver Aquarium that 103 hectares of prime Grizzly bear habitat has been added to the Tweedsmuir Provincial Park near Bella Coola, towards greater protection of the Grizzly bear.

Sihota announces also that the maximum penalties for Grizzly poaching or trafficking in Grizzly parts has been raised from $10,000 to $25,000 and/or 6 months in prison.

The “problem bears” were also addressed. The minister suggested raising walls or fences around garbage dumps, establishing new garbage management bylaws and strengthening public education so as to alleviate human-bear conflict.

The BC government will also establish a $30,000 fund for bear research, and participate in the Grizzly Bear Conservation Strategy Stakeholders’ Meeting at Richmond Inn.

As of this fall, Grizzly hunting will be restricted. The open season will be closed and hunting permits will be by lottery only. Grizzly hunting will be completely banned in the Okanagans and the Southern Selkirks.

Sihota says that the BC government is committed to protect the Grizzly bear, to prevent it from becoming another endangered species.

But wildlife protection activist and Western Canada Wilderness Committee campaigner Anthony Marr says, “The new 103 hectare of Grizzly habitat protected is a postage stamp compared to the amount of known Grizzly habitat clear-cut-logged every year, where no Grizzly bear inventories have never been done.”

He further says, “The new penalty is still too lenient to be effective, when the profits in bear gall trafficking are in the million dollar range.”

“The government voluntarily curtailing Grizzly hunting, while laudable, is in itself an acknowledgment that BC’s Grizzly bears is under siege,” he adds.

He points out that BC’s Grizzly bear population is loosely estimated to be as low as 4,000 by some independent biologists, and as high as 13,000 by the BC government. Over the last ten years, an average of about 320 Grizzlies were legally hunted per year, plus about 50-80 killed by conservation officers, and an unknown number were poached, estimated by international experts to be at least a similar number as those legally killed. “The Grizzly bear, being the slowest reproducing large mammal in North America, simply cannot sustain this kind of onslaught. Of the 8 species of bears in the world today, five have already been hunted to the brink of extinction, including the Asiatic Black bear that used to be the main source of gall bladders. If this trend continues, the Grizzly bear will be next, and this trend is most definitely continuing,” says Marr.

1996-04-09 Chinese vs Chinese

April 9, 1996, Tuesday
Ming Pao Daily News
by Eric Chan
(translated from Chinese)

Federal wildlife trade law soon in force

... Earlier this year, Vancouver environmentalist Anthony Marr, of Western Canada Wilderness Committee, wrote the then federal justice minister Alan Rock and the Ministry of the Environment requesting an as-soon-as-possible enactment of WAPPRIITA...

On March 6, the new federal environment minister Sergio Marchi wrote back to Marr, stating that WAPPRIITA will be put in force this spring...

Environmental expert David Ip, who once headed the Chinese community group SUCCESS, considers the new law a new round of assault against traditional Chinese medicine in Canada...

1996-04-04 Letter from a private citizen

April 4, 1996, Thur.
Ms. Neil Sumner
4398 West 8th Ave.

Dear Mr. Marr:

I have seen you on TV and have read about you in our local newspapers and I want to tell you what a very import job you are doing for bears and generally, our environment. I was impressed to see you giving talks at schools to try to convince a young generation of Asian and non-Asian Canadians to understand the importance of preservation of our forests, or a single tree in our neighbourhood, and of course, the creatures that live in our forests and countryside. You have a large task and, in my opinion, are going about it the right way to make a difference.

I have despaired to think our bear population would go the way of the tigers and rhinos and other bear species in Asia. You are the first important step in BC that will make a difference. It’s a heavy burden to put upon you, but please keep up the excellent work and find a way to overcome the barriers that have come your way.

Yours sincerely,

N. Sumner

1996-03-06 Letter from Minister of the Environment

Minister of the Environment
Government of Canada
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1A 0H3

March 6, 1996

Mr. Anthony Marr
Campaign Director
Western Canada Wilderness Committee
20 Water Street
Vancouver, BC V6B 1A4

Dear Mr. Marr:

Thank you for your letter of January 15... regarding the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act (WAPPRIITA)...

... Its capacity to deter this trade with its proclamation this spring. Under the Act, poachers and smugglers will be liable to penalties of up to $150,000 and 5 years’ imprisonment, Corporations are liable to fines of up to $300,000. The maximum fine can be doubled for a second offence...

Yours sincerely,

Hon. Sergio Marchi
Minister of the Environment

1996-02-10/14 Tree Hugger II & III

February 10, 1996, Saturday
The Vancouver Sun
by Elizabeth Aird

Getting tough on tree-cutters

They’re sending help to a tree near you. Bob MacCallum, a retired West Side builder, and Anthony Marr, a Chinese-Canadian environmentalist, want to stop the wholesale killing of trees around town and mend race relations in the bargain. Together, they are the Urban Forest Preservation Association.

Anthony Marr, who works for the Western Canada Wilderness Committee, says it’s a tragedy that trees are being destroyed in the name of Feng Shui, the Chinese belief that trees standing in front of a house can block good fortune from entering the house.

“Some of the Feng Shui ‘masters’ call it science. I have a science degree and I totally disagree," says Marr. "Just like the so-called Creation Science in Western culture, I wouldn’t even grace it with the term ‘pseudo-science’. It’s just plain superstition.”

Fully half of the Chinese-Canadians population - the more educated half - doesn’t believe in Feng Shui, says Marr. He has tart answers for those who remain convinced that cutting down trees will bring good fortune. “If anything, cutting down a tree brings bad fortune into the house in the form of neighbourhood discontent.”

Marr also thinks saving trees as a Chinese Canadian will save Chinese Canadians from the bad rap they’re getting. “Whether the trees are being cut down by Chinese themselves or by developers building on spec, it’s giving the Chinese people a bad name. If tree are protected by law, then the cutting will stop, and so will the blame.”

MacCallum started the tree campaign after his 13-year-old daughter was devastated when a massive, magnificent dogwood disappeared from their street in MacKenzie Heights.

In the three months since, MacCallum says he’s found overwhelming public support for getting tough about tree-cutting. He surveyed 100 West Side property owners by phone, and was told by 86 of them that they were willing to relinquish the right to cut down trees without good reason on their own property. They also said they’d pay $2 a year for enforcing a tough by-law. Only 6 of the people surveyed said they want to defend their property rights above all else. The remaining 8 weren’t interested in the issue.

MacCullum has also talked to 24 neighbourhood groups, and says they want a tough by-law.

There’s no question that Vancouver’s existing bylaw isn’t saving trees. It decrees only that some trees have to be replaced, and then only when new development is going in. There are no penalties for chopping down even an irreplaceable tree, so property owners are free to chop as they please.

Marr and MacCullum want a bylaw that would allow builders and home-owners to take out only those trees that sit where a house or, say a swimming pool needs to go. Fines for cutting down trees unnecessarily would be set according to the value assigned the tree by the International Society of Arboriculture.

“If the aborist says that a tree had an ISA of 70,000 buck, bingo, that’s the fine,” MacCullum says. On top of that, the city would replace the destroyed tree and tack the bill onto the owner’s property taxes. “I want big fines not as punishment, but as a deterrent.”

Ignorance would be no defence. Anyone wanting to fell a big tree would have to call professionals, who in turn would be required to get a cutting permit.

The model of a better bylaw comes from Saanich. MacCallum describes its essence. “Thou shalt not chop down a large tree, and there are definitions of a large tree.”

Marr and MacCallum have met city councilors individually to discuss the issue.

City council has told the city’s senior landscape architect, Michael von Hausen, to take a look at new ways to save trees, but politicians may be unwilling to act too tough on a touchy issue. The city could make people get a permit to cut down a tree, for instance, but von Hausen calls a permit process “burdensome”. He says penalties are being considered, but that “we would much rather create an incentive program, a heritage tree conservation program.”

In an election year, talk of “educating” people and giving them incentives to save trees sounds suspiciously like avoidance. “If people believe that cutting down a tree will let $50,000’s worth of good fortune to come into the house, they are not going to pay attention to a $500 tax incentive,” Marr said.

“City council realizes something’s got to be done,” said MacCallum. “I think when all is said and done, (they) will come to the conclusion that the only way to address the problem is to change the bylaw.”

Anthony Marr says he’ll be happy to take on cultural traditionalists who value Feng Shui over trees. He’d like to publicly debate Joseph Ip, the prominent Feng Shui master here. He’s committed to steering the tree debate out of the realm of racism. He attacks the Chinese tradition, but, he says, “as a Chinese person myself.”


February 14, 1996, Wednesday
The Kitsilano News
by Mary Frances Hill

Tree cutting angers Kits group
City to review tree bylaw

A line of old ornamental trees standing on a lot between Bayswater and Balaclava may be gone if residents don’t pressure the city to save them. The West Kitsilano Residents’ Association will hold a meeting next Tuesday...

Meanwhile, the Western Canada Wilderness Committee is pressing the city for greater protection for existing trees. Anthony Marr is pressuring the city to force property owners to force property owners to hold a permit or license before they fell a tree, and impose penalties...

The city has asked its senior landscape architect, Michael von Hausen to review the effectiveness of the bylaw in light of strong community protests over the destruction of old trees in West Side neighbourhoods.

“We’re looking at the options. We’re trying to find a balance between reasonable removal of trees and trees that don’t have to be removed,” says von Hausen. “This has personal implications, and there is no easy, straight forwards answer.”

Marr says though about 90% of residents polled recently said they would pay more taxes for enforcement costs, he still fears city councilors may drag their feet over the repercussions of potential costs and opposition.

“If you don't address the issue now, social discord will cost a lot more in the long run,” says Marr.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

1996-02-08 Test of fire

February 8, 1996, Thursday.

Of everything I did in the Chinatown campaign, the Chinese-language radio talk shows troubled my mother the most. She was afraid to listen to it, but couldn't help herself but to do so. This last one was the last straw.

What happened during this late-night open-line interview frightened my mother so much that she pleaded with me to abandon my enemy-making pursuit, and she didn't even know what I had to do to escape unscathed, which I concealed from her to prevent a total impasse. She was already worried enough about me riding a motorcycle!

This was the third time in as many weeks when I was invited to go on a Chinese-language radio talk show, and there were hundreds of thousands of Chinese listeners in the Vancouver and Richmond areas. With every succeeding interview, it got hotter than the one before. And this third one was a late night show.

In this hour-long interview, a dozen calls came in, of which 7 or 8 were openly hostile, including: “What is more important – people or animals? Why are you working for animals against people?”, “Our glorious culture dates back five thousand years. Who are you to change it, not to mention destroy it, much less overnight?”, “How much are your white cronies paying you?”, and, loast but not least, the not-so-veiled threat: "Remember what happened to Lam Bun?"

In 1960, Lam Bun was a 30-year-old radio personality in Hong Kong who starred in a prime time radio satire-sitcom as Tseew Jai, a quick-witted and sharp-tongued teenager who was constantly needling the old traditional culture and jabbing the new Communist Chinese government - a more than irritating thorn in the sides of both. He wrote his own script, and by acting Tseew Jai, Lam Bun was being himself. Lam Bun and Tseew Jai were one. Both being well loved, even revered, as well as being openly hated, not without deadly intent. His fans numbered well over a million, one of whom being the then 16 year-old Seeu-Sung (Beautiful Life - me). Though it had never been thought of as such, Lam Bun was in essence very much Seeu-Sung's role model.

In 1965, I took my one way flight from Hong Kong to Canada in pursuit of my higher education and greater destiny, while Lam Bun had developed into a towering social activist.

In 1967, I received one of the worst shocks of my life. If you search Wikipedia for Lam Bun, you will come across the following passage:

[Lam was a radio commentator at Commercial Radio Hong Kong in the 1960s who was fiercely critical of leftists (*Communists). During the 1967 riots, he criticised the leftist agitators on his own radio programmes. He created a programme called *"Can't Stop If I Wanted To" (欲罷不能) to satirise the leftist agitators. Some leftist newspapers at the time labelled him an anti-China spy.

[On 24 August 1967, whilst on his way to work, men posing as road maintenance workers stopped his vehicle (*a VW Beetle as I recall) at the end of the street where he lived. They blocked his car doors and doused Lam and his cousin with petrol. They were both then set on fire and burned alive. Lam died later that day in a hospital; his cousin died several days later. A leftist group reportedly claimed responsibility for the assassination. No one was ever captured...]

When the next call came in, the host got up to peeped out the front window, and, looking a little alarmed, waved me to join him. There were five men loitering around the front entrance of the building. There was what looked like a gasoline can sitting at the foot of a lamp post. One of the men had a mobile phone pressed to his ear.

“... You’re a Chinese person yourself. Why are you trying to blacken the Chinese reputation?" the last caller blazed on the phone line. Could it be him? Or was he the precious caller?

This was such a tired question that I, keyed up as I was, answered it almost lethargically, "On the contrary, I'm attempting to save the Chinese reputation. If we carry on the way we have, we will drive endangered species to extinction without a question. Our already battered reputation will be forever mud. Only if we rise up now and change our ways can we have a hope of preventing this from happening. Only with our success can our reputation will saved."

"Traitor!" Click.

The host called a commercial break.

"What do you want to do, Anthony?" he asked anxiously.

I peeped out the front window again. They were still there. I looked down the street. My motorcycle was half a block away near the street corner. I looked through a rear window of the building, and saw that the alley was clear. It was five minutes before the end of the show.

"I will say a couple of things after the break, then I will leave," I told the host. At 3 minutes to the end of the show, I left via the rear door, black motorcycle helmet already on, key in my hand. I walked the half block down the alley, rounded two corners, peeked around the corner to see that the five men were still at the front entrance of the building half a block away. As nonchalantly as possible, I went to my motorcycle, mounted it, full-choked it, started it, and, without warming it up, roared away to talk another day.

1996-01-28 "Animal Tortures Justifies Anger"

January 28, 1996, Sun.
The Vancouver Courier

Animal torture justifies anger

To the Editor:

Your article on Anthony Marr (“Chinese activist fearless”, Jan. 21) was an eye-opener. Now I realize why those who struggle for ethical treatment of animals are so vehemently angry.

To think there are “humans” in the world (Seoul) who would cage a bear and lower it onto hot coals to cook its paws while it was alive should frighten us all! And this torture is to make a bowl of bear paw soup. It is barbaric.

A boycott of products from these bear-torturing nations is called for, plus support for Marr in his efforts.

Mrs. V. Kennedy,

1996-01-21 "Chinese Activist Fearless"

January 21, 1996
The Vancouver Courier
by Kerry Gold

Chinese activist fearless
Drive to end cruelty to animals began at age 10

In the low-ceilinged maze that is the Western Canada Wilderness Committee office, a search for Anthony Marr locates him tucked into a corner desk with his laptop computer and posters of bears, elephants, tigers and rhinos.

Marr, a young-looking 52, has been a busy activist the last three months. A fixture at the WCWC offices since the Committee took on his BET’R (Bear, Elephant, Tiger & Rhino) Campaign in November last year, he’s also been campaigning to save city trees from the chainsaw.

WCWC founder Paul George says the Committee has budgeted $100,000 for the campaign locally and in Asia, and to produce printed materials that will further the cause. . . .

Marr’s campaign to save the environment has garnered him attention from the media, schools, politicians, other environmentalists, and the general public. He’s been on TV news half a dozen times. Numerous articles have been written about him in various newspapers and magazines since his BET’R Campaign started last year.

Environmentalist are hardly in short supply, so why does everybody want to talk with Anthony Marr?

He guesses it’s got something to do with the fact that he’s a Chinese Canadian who’s unafraid to criticize the Chinese community for a lack of environmental awareness. He also isn’t afraid to criticize other cultures for failing to pick up the cause. In these culturally hypersensitive times, Marr could be the fearless spokesman to bridge the cultural divide.

Marr agrees. “My impression is that people tend to give a sigh of relief, and say ‘Finally, there is somebody we can trust to speak our sentiment, and take on the task without raising racism as a red herring.”

On his outreach into the Chinese community, however, he hasn’t always encountered a warm reception. He estimates that three quarters of the incoming calls on Chinese language radio talk shows are critical of what he is doing. He’s been advised by other Chinese to not condemn the use of animal parts outright, or criticize Asian demand.

Marr’s response? “I’ve got to be accountable first and foremost to myself. I’m not going to compromise myself by worrying about offending certain people. You can’t please everybody.”

Marr was born near Canton in 1944. When the Communists took over five years later, the Marr family fled to Hong Kong as refugees. He moved to Canada at 21 and attended the University of Manitoba for one year before coming to attend UBC. “I passed over Vancouver on my way to Winnipeg and was enchanted by its beauty. It was love at first sight.”

When he was as young as 10, he knew he wanted to end cruelty inflicted on animals worldwide. He remembers seeing a snake being skinned alive in a Southeast Asian meat market, and films of dogs in a Vietnamese market with their front legs tied behind their backs.

Today, he’s fighting such atrocities as wild animals being poached to supply superstitious medicinal demands . . . As well, he is fighting global atrocities such as live bears in Seoul being lowered in cages onto hot coal until their feet are cooked to satisfy certain Koreans’ fetish to have super-fresh bear paws at some $2,000 US per serving.

The demand for tiger bone, tiger penis, rhino horn, bear gall and bear paw have generated enough poaching to have driven the tiger, all five species of rhino, and five out of eight species of bear to the brink of extinction. Now, the Grizzly and Black bears in BC are facing the immense poaching pressure displaced from Asia. . . .

To put the problem in perspective, the number of tigers left in the world, about 4,500, would fill only about a quarter of an NHL hockey stadium, he says. Meanwhile, the number of bears killed in Canada last year could fill three stadiums, one dead bear per seat.

And while Marr is looking to his own culture to help remedy the growing problem, all cultures, he says, must do some soul searching. “Every culture has a hand in causing the problem, so every culture has a part to play in the solution.”

1996-01-08 "Tiger, tiger, burning bright"

January 8, 1996, Monday
Victoria Times Colonist
by Malcolm Curtis

Tiger, tiger, put it right . . .
Weak laws ‘to blame’ for elixirs and pills which contains parts of endangered species

There are only about 4,000 wild tigers left in the world, but traditional Chinese medicines containing tissue and bones of tigers are openly sold in Victoria’s Chinatown.

Other elixirs and pills, using parts of endangered species, continue to be sold across the country because of weak provincial and federal laws, says a Chinese-Canadian environmentalist committed to stamp out the practice.

Anthony Marr, born in China, raised in Hong Kong, but a BC resident for 30 years, is lobbying to change traditional Chinese medicine in this country, so that it meets environmentally sound principles.

“If major endangered species of the world - bear, elephant, tiger and rhino, among others - become extinct as a result of Chinese demand for their body parts, I would consider that a very serious crime against nature,” Marr said in an interview.

“I would like to wipe out that demand to save the species, and save the Chinese reputation while I’m at it.”

Marr, 52, is a campaigner for the Vancouver-based, 25,000-members-strong Western Canada Wilderness Committee to halt the sale of exotic animal parts. That includes bear gall bladders taken from poached Grizzly and Black bears in BC and illicitly sold to customers in Asia.

Marr produced half a dozen packages from an attaché case of examples of medicines sold by Chinatown apothecaries in Vancouver made from tiger bones and bear galls.

A survey of 20 apothecaries in Vancouver by the Washington-DC-based Investigative Network showed 13 sold such medicines. At Victoria’s Fung Hing Hong Co. Chinese Herbs, 614 Fisgard Street, $6.75 packages of tiger bone plaster from China were openly displayed on sale Thursday.

With tigers disappearing at the rate of one a day in India and two a day worldwide, “it just blows your mind to see this sort of thing being allowed in Canada,” said Joe Foy of the WCWC.

“Some forms of Chinese healing believe that powerful animals should make powerful medicine, and that their organs can be used to cure their corresponding human body parts,” said Marr. Wild animal penises, for example, are believed to have aphrodisiac properties.

Through a quirk of law, it is illegal to import such animal parts into Canada, but it is okay to sell them once they’ve been smuggled into the country.

Born near Canton, Marr was raised in a Hong Kong family that used traditional Chinese medicines to cure his childhood ailments. “I still respects the traditional of herbal medicines, which was developed by trial and error,” said Marr, “but the use of animals parts, however, developed mostly along lines of superstition, is another matter.” . . .

A report published in November 1995 by Humane Society International says that global profits from the illegal global trade of endangered species were estimated by Interpol at $6 billion US annually.

The report says that in addition to the 40,000 bears legally killed in North America, 40,000 to 80,000 were poached. Demand for bear gall bladders and bear paws was the driving force in the illegal hunt, the report concludes. . . .

WCWC’s Joe Foy noted that North America is one of the last havens for bears since they have become extinct or seriously endangered in other continents. While Canadian bears are not yet endangered, the threat from the demand for animal parts is serious, he said. . . .

1995-12-25 How it all started


Most of my friends are Caucasian. Back in 1995, I had TV buddies of common interest, namely wildlife. Once a week or so, we got together to watch National Geographic over beer or tea (mine was tea). I loved these buddies of mine and these get-togethers, but there was often one thing that made me feel uncomfortable. Whenever an endangered species was touched upon and the Chinese use of animal parts in their traditional medicine was named as a cause of their endangerment, I would find myself on needles and pins due to my Chinese lineage, and became keenly aware that everyone else in the room was doing their best to try not glancing at me. Finally, when again it happened, I said, "Look at me. Tell me what you are thinking."

Ron, the most loud-mouthed of the bunch, cleared his throat and said, "I think it sucks. But we're honkies. We can't say a single word without being accused of racism."

Now I feel all eyes on me like lasers. I swallowed, hard, then said, "Alright, I'll do it." That was in the summer of 1995.

By November, I had checked out each and every one of the 33 traditional Chinese apothecaries for traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) containing endangered species ingredients. To my astonishment, I found highly packaged "patent medicines" galore, listing ingredients such as tiger bone, tiger penis, rhino horn, bear bile..., prominently displayed on shelves in all of the stores. I made a list of them, placing stars next to their names in terms of TV potential.

In the same period, I checked out Canadian law, and found a huge loophole that made it look like a joke. International law had it that no two nations could trade in any item containing endangered species part. And Canadian customs did check shipping containers from the Orient. But the Canadian government plainly stated that customs had enough man power to check only 2% of all the shipping containers, meaning that 98% of all illegal shipments simply slip right through, and the 2% discovered were simply confiscated, with a light monetary fine attached. The 98% that slipped through would enter Chinatown and be displayed for sale with impunity.

The reason for this is that there was no Canadian law governing the sale of these internationally illegal products once they have made their way into the country. It's like the Canadian government yelling to the smugglers, saying, "Hey, if you are smart enough to smuggle the stuff through customs, we'd allow you to sell it openly."

I thought hard as to how to rid Chinatown of these products, and concluded on two alternatives. One was to go into Chinatown and speak to the store owners to voluntarily destroy them, and to the Chinese people in Vancouver to not buy them. The other was to use media to blow the situation out to the public consciousness, which could press the Canadian government to create a law to ban the sale of such items anywhere within the country, such that the merchants would have no choice but to abide. The former looked to me like a pipe dream, and I settle for the latter.

By November, I was ready for action. At that point, I was just an unknown individual, and it was the subject matter that made the campaign so successful. I sent out media releases about my findings, and asked specific TV stations to come to Chinatown to document me openly purchasing endangered species products off the shelf. And no one turned me down.

In one of these operations, I would have the TV camera parked across the street, but with the camera pointed down the street as if doing a tourism shoot. They would put a mic on me and I would walk right into the store, go straight to the shelf where the endangered species products were displayed, pick out a few samples, pay for them at the counter, and walk straight back out towards the TV camera, with the products in my hands, which I would show the camera close-up. By the time I had done all three of Vancouver's main TV stations, Chinatown had gone abuzz, and the TV-coverage had gone national. Activists from Victoria BC, Toronto and Ottawa ON, wrote me and asked me to do the same with their own Chinatowns.

I spent $100 to go to Victoria by ferry, but I did not have a deep enough pocket to fly across the continent at will. In December, I took my campaign to a few local groups, asking for their support. The one that came through, big time, was the 28,000-members-strong Western Canada Wilderness Committee, headed by founder Paul George, executive director Adrian Carr, and campaign director Joe Foy, all of whom I have seen on TV before. They sat opposite me across their conference room table, and pelted me with questions. After two hours of intense interrogation, over coffee, not only did they offer to support the campaign, but hire me on as their animal-issue campaign director. The pay was low ($25,000), no lower than what Paul, Adrian and Joe were paid, and I lept to the opportunity.