Archive for the ‘Animal welfare’ Category

The Challenges of Sturgeon Stewardship

January 23, 2014 Leave a comment

A sturgeon rearing facility in Allegan County Park, in New Richmond on the Kalamazoo River. Photo: Mark Brooks

Thanks to a fellowship from the Institute for Journalism and Natural Resources, I was able to join a group of journalists on a learning expedition in Michigan last year. One of the projects we investigated was the effort underway to rehabilitate lake sturgeon populations in the state. I produced a short audio documentary for the Great Lakes Echo about this program.

Back in the late 1800s, lake sturgeon ranged widely throughout the Mississippi River, the Great Lakes and the Hudson River. The Lake Michigan region is in the centre of the sturgeon’s historic range. Populations in and around the state were estimated to number in the hundreds of thousands. However, sturgeon were considered a nuisance by commercial fishermen because they destroyed fishing gear that was set to target other species. This led to their widespread slaughter and, since the mid-nineteenth century, exploitation and habitat degradation have resulted in a substantial decline in sturgeon populations. Only a remnant of the original lake sturgeon population remains in most Great Lakes areas today, including that of Lake Michigan.

The fish is now listed as a threatened species by the  Michigan Department of Natural Resources and numerous management efforts are being undertaken to try to protect the fish and ultimately restore healthy sturgeon populations. One of these initiatives is a streamside rearing program operated by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. During the IJNR trip, we visited the rearing program at the Allegan County Park in New Richmond on the Kalamazoo River.
Categories: Animal welfare, Conservation, Oceans and fisheries Tags: IJNR, , Lake Sturgeon,

Moving, must-see video tribute from Sanctuary Asia to all those who have died fighting for the planet

January 22, 2013 Leave a comment

Check out this beautiful video from Sanctuary Asia called ‘She’s Alive…Beautiful…Finite…Hurting…And Worth Dying For’.  The video is an attempt to highlight the fact that “world leaders, irresponsible corporates and mindless ‘consumers’ are combining to destroy life on earth. It is dedicated to all who died fighting for the planet and those whose lives are on the line today.”

It was put together by Vivek Chauhan, a young film maker, together with naturalists working with the Sanctuary Asia network (

The principal source for the footage was Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s film HOME. The music was by Armand Amar. Credit also goes to Greenpeace and

Sanctuary Asia “believes that the survival of humanity and the natural world are intertwined, and depends significantly on the reversal of global climate change.”

December 20, 2012: Buy Nothing Christmas and the shark fin import ban in Canada

December 21, 2012 Leave a comment

This week on Earthgauge Radio, I have a feature interview with Aiden Enns of We discuss some ideas about how you can have a “greener” and less stressful holiday season. I also have an update from NDP MP Fin Donnelly on his private member’s Bill C-380 to ban the import of shark fins to Canada.

Click the audio player above to stream the show or right click here to download.

Part 1 – Fin Donnelly on his efforts to ban the import of shark fins to Canada

One year ago Fin Donnelly, the NDP MP for New Westminster – Coquitlam in BC, introduced legislation to prohibit the import of shark fins to Canada. Bill C-380 is a private member’s bill that is now slated to go forward to parliamentary committees in February, after which it will go to a vote in the House of Commons. It is estimated that up to 73 million sharks are killed annually for their fins, often by a practice called shark finning, where the fins are cut off the shark and the body is dumped back into the ocean to die. In 2009, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature revealed that over one-third of all shark species are threatened with extinction as a result of the inhumane practice of shark finning.

A Canadian ban on the import of shark fins would follow similar legislation in various jurisdictions around the world. Most recently, the European Parliament voted to close loopholes in the European Union ban on shark finning. I attended a screening of the film Sharkwater recently on Parliament Hill. Fin Donnelly spoke prior to the screening and I was able to catch up with him to talk about his Bill, why he feels its so important, and the likelihood of it passing in a Conservative-dominated government.

Right click here to download the interview.

Part 2 – Buy Nothing Christmas

Huge amounts of waste are produced during the holiday season – more than any other time of year. In addition, the pressure to buy gifts, social commitments, entertaining and family expectations can make many people dread the holidays. Is there a better way to celebrate the holidays? Many people seem to think so. We’re increasingly seeing people buying fewer gifts, making their own presents, making donations to charity in lieu of gifts, or giving non-material gifts such as art lessons, theatre tickets, food and so on.

On today’s show we talk with Aiden Enns who is the co-founder of and the publisher and co-editor of Geez magazine. Buy Nothing Christmas is a national initiative dedicated to reviving the original meaning of the holiday season. They are inviting all of us to join a movement to de-commercialize Christmas and re-design a lifestyle that is richer in meaning, smaller in impact upon the earth, and greater in giving to people who are less privileged.

Earthgauge Radio airs Thursday mornings from 7-8 AM on CKCU 93.1 in Ottawa. Podcasts on iTunes and Stream live on Check us out on Facebook at

Tomorrow on Earthgauge Radio: Canadian shark fin import ban and dreaming of a green Christmas

December 19, 2012 Leave a comment

Tomorrow on Earthgauge Radio, it’s our second annual holiday special program. As you probably know, huge amounts of waste are produced during the holiday season – more than any other time of year. In addition, a lot of people find the holidays incredibly stressful. The pressure to buy gifts, social commitments, preparing meals and family expectations can make many people dread the holidays. So we’re going to talk with Aiden Enns tomorrow who is part of a national initiative called Buy Nothing Christmas, which is dedicated to reviving the original meaning of Christmas. These folks are saying no to overconsumption and they invite everyone with a thirst for change and a desire for action to join in. We’ll also have have some ideas for you about how you can be more “green” this holiday season with less waste and less stress too.

Also on the program we’ll hear an update from NDP MP Fin Donnelly on his private member’s Bill C-380 to ban the import of shark fins to Canada. The bill is expected to go forward to Parliament this coming February so we’ll find out why this issue is so important to him and how likely the bill is to pass in a Conservative-dominated House of Commons.

Tune in every Thursday morning at 7:00 AM to Ottawa’s only radio program dedicated exclusively to environmental news and commentary from here in Ottawa and around the world. Earthgauge Radio on CKCU 93.1 in Ottawa and online at Podcasts on iTunes and

Costa Rica passes ban on shark finning

October 11, 2012 Leave a comment

Continuing Earthgauge’s past coverage of the campaign to ban shark finning, Reuters is reporting that Costa Rica is the latest country to ban the practice, which involves catching sharks, slicing off their fins and throwing them back in the ocean to die.

As always with such bans, it remains to be seen whether the enforcement of the law can keep pace with the high demand (and high prices) for the fins, which are in high demand in Asian countries including China and Japan where shark fin soup is considered a delicacy.

Read more: World Environment News – Costa Rica passes ban on taking of shark fins – Planet Ark.

Categories: Activism, Animal welfare, Biodiversity, Conservation, Oceans and fisheries Tags: costa rica, shark finning

Costa Rica poised to ban hunting as sport

October 5, 2012 Leave a comment

An environmentalist wearing a frog mask is seen near members of Congress (rear) who are voting on an anti-hunting law inside the Legislative Assembly building in San Jose, Costa Rica.


The country’s name in English means “Rich Coast” and it looks as though law makers in Costa Rica want to keep it that way. Reuters is reporting that the nation famous for its lush rainforests and remarkable wildlife is poised to become the first country in all of Latin America to ban hunting as a sport, after its Congress provisionally approved reforms to its Wildlife Conservation Law. Jaguars, pumas and sea turtles are among the country’s most exotic and treasured species, and are often hunted or stolen as trophies. The ban would not apply to hunting by some indigenous groups for survival, or to scientific research.

“Lawmakers voting on the ban voted 41 in favor and five against, and a second vote expected in the coming week is widely seen ratifying changes to the law, which aims to protect animals in one of the world’s most biodiverse countries.

Costa Rica’s national parks attract some 300,000 visitors annually, and tourism is a mainstay of the economy.”

A commendable measure to be sure but I suppose you have to wonder exactly how wildlife officers in Costa Rica will distinguish between sport hunting and “legitimate” (non-sport) hunting. Couldn’t sport hunters simply say they are using the animal for some purpose? Still, it’s a step in the right direction – hard to believe in this day and age that anyone would want to kill another creature just for “fun”. It’s beyond my comprehension.

Read more: Costa Rica poised to ban hunting as sport in Latin America first

Earthgauge Radio May 31 2012: Shark conservation and Capital Velo Fest

May 31, 2012 Leave a comment

On Earthgauge Radio this week, we’re taking a look at shark conservation and the Ottawa bike festival called Capital Velo Fest. The award-winning film Sharkwater will be screened this Tuesday, June 5 at 7:00PM at the Mayfair Theatre in Ottawa (a CKCU co-presentation) I have three interviews for you on today’s show:

  • Gabriel Wildgen, a campaigner with Humane Society International
  • Rob Stewart, photographer and director of the film Sharkwater
  • Dick Louch from Capital Velo Fest

Earthgauge Radio is broadcast every other Thursday morning at 7:00-8:00 AM on CKCU 93.1 FM in Ottawa. Click the audio player above to hear the full show. Right click here to download today’s full show. Scroll down to listen to individual interviews only.

Remember that Earthgauge Radio is podcast on iTunes if you type earthgauge into the search bar, you’ll find us. Contact us at . Facebook address is and Twitter handle @earthgaugeCA. Please do get in touch if you have story ideas, a comment on something you’ve heard or want to get involved or contribute to the show.

On today’s show, we also have our usual segment with Ecology Ottawa who update us on local environmental events. And we hear the week’s round-up of intl eco-news from Deutsche Welle Living Planet.

To start off today we talk with Dick Louch about Capital Velo Fest. This is an annual event that was created to inspire people to ride their bike more often. They have a variety of activities happening this weekend, mainly on Saturday.

Dick Louch interview, right click here to download:

Next on the program, we turn our attention to shark conservation. Toronto-born filmmaker and photographer Rob Stewart joined members of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society aboard the Ocean Warrior for a four-month expedition to deter poaching of sharks in Costa Rica and Ecuador and to create a film that would investigate why sharks are being killed at such an alarming rate and what can be done to stop it.

However, a series of life and death situations while making the film, including pirate boat rammings, attempted murder charges, arrests, espionage, corruption and even hospitalization made the making of the film much more complicated than Rob Stewart had ever anticipated. So we have an interview that Stewart did with Bloomberg News to discuss his film, Sharkwater, his passion for saving sharks and their importance to life in the oceans and to life on the planet.

Presenting the film Sharkwater on Tuesday evening, June 5 at 7:00pm at the Mayfair Theatre in Ottawa is Humane Society International and I speak with Gabriel Wildgen, a campaigner with HSI  to talk about the work of his organization and the international campaign underway to ban shark finning. Humane Society International is one of the only international animal protection organizations in the world working to protect all animals—including animals in laboratories, farm animals, companion animals, and wildlife—and our record of achievement demonstrates our dedication and effectiveness.

Gabriel Wildgen interview, right click here to download:

Upcoming local environmental events (courtesy of Ecology Ottawa):

This Saturday is Capital Vélo Fest. Come down to City Hall between 11am and 5pm to check out the Bicycle Rodeo, which will involve free cycling games, products, demonstrations, educational workshops and prizes. Then in the evening, take an exhilarating ride under the stars with the Tour la Nuit: from 5pm to 11pm, streets will be closed off, live music will be playing and hordes of cyclists will be pedaling in the twilight. If you would like to participate, register online at

On Sunday, June 3rd, a guided bird walk will take place from 4pm to 5pm at Mud Lake Conservation Area, near Britannia Bay. This particular region is known for its red-throated loons, so make sure to be on the lookout for these majestic birds. If you wish to join the bird walk, please RSVP to [email protected].

On Monday, June 4th, Ecology Ottawa will be hosting another presentation from its Solar Power
Workshop series, from 7 to 8pm at D Roy Kennedy School on Woodroffe Avenue. Come learn what 40,000 Ontarians have already figured out: how investing in solar power provides a stable, long term financial return. Come learn a step-by-step plan for installing solar power on your home. Don’t have a good rooftop? We will also discuss an opportunity to invest in renewable energy through the Ottawa Renewable Energy Cooperative. Ecology Ottawa will be giving several more of these presentations in the lead up to the Ottawa Solar Fair on June 16th. To learn more about the solar power workshops, or about any other events mentioned here, please visit our website at

Sharks and bikes on Earthgauge Radio tomorrow at 7:00-8:00 AM on CKCU

May 30, 2012 Leave a comment

On Earthgauge Radio this week, we’re talking about shark conservation and the Capital Velo Fest. 

The award-winning film Sharkwater will be screened this Tuesday, June 5 at 7:00PM at the Mayfair Theatre in Ottawa (a CKCU co-presentation) so we’ll be talking about shark conservation with Gabriel Wildgen, a campaigner with Humane Society International. We’ll also discuss the international campaign to ban shark finning. NDP MP Fin Donnelly will be speaking prior to the film screening on Tuesday about his private member’s Bill to ban shark finning in Canada. All the film details are below.

Also on the show, we’ll hear from Dick Louch about the Capital Velo Fest happening this weekend in Ottawa.

Tune in at 7:00AM on CKCU 93.1 FM in Ottawa, online at any time from anywhere at or right here at

Shark Water:  A World Oceans Day Special Event

Join Humane Society International/Canada and Fin Donnelly, Member of Parliament, for a special screening of Shark Water. This powerful, award-winning documentary debunks historical stereotypes and media depictions of sharks and reveals these magnificent animals as pillars in the evolution of the seas. The film follows one man’s remarkable journey of courage and determination as it changes from a mission to save the world’s sharks, into a fight for his life, and that of humankind.

When: Tuesday, June 5, 2012 at 7:00p.m.

Mayfair Theatre, Downtown,
1074 Bank Street,
Ottawa, Ontario

Hosted by: Humane Society International/Canada and Fin Donnelly, Member of Parliament and Deputy Fisheries Critic for the NDP. Fin Donnelly will be speaking before the film about his Private Member’s Bill to ban the practice of shark finning in Canada.

Tickets: $5 available at the Mayfair Theatre or in advance at

All proceeds will cover the cost of screening the film and towards HSI/Canada’s campaign to end the trade in shark fins.

For more info and to reserve tickets:

Pesticides can have devastating impact on bees

March 31, 2012 1 comment

For years now, scientists have been trying to figure out why so many bees have been disappearing around the world. In what’s become known as colony collapse disorder (CCD), entire colonies have vanished in unprecedented numbers. Now new research suggests that, surprise surprise, it may our profligate use of potent pesticides that is causing the collapse of bee populations.

A controversial type of pesticide appears to scramble bees’ sense of direction, making it hard for them to find home. Starved of foragers and the pollen they carry, colonies produce fewer queens, and eventually collapse.

The phenomenon is described in two new studies published March 29 in Science.

Why should we care about bees? This article in the Guardian provides a good explanation of why bees are very important to us. Writes Alison Benjamin:

“Insects pollinate a third of everything we humans eat – most fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, and forage for our livestock. As we become more and more dependent on a monoculture system of growing food, we become more reliant on the honeybee to do the bulk of this work; trucked into an area for just a few days or weeks when a single crop is blossoming, they can be moved in their hives to more fertile pastures when the orchards and fields turn into a barren wasteland. Not so the bumblebees, solitary bees, moths and butterflies who have suffered a sharp decline as a result of modern farming practices…with honeybees dying around the world, our global food production is far from secure.”

Researchers say there is an “urgent need” to re-evaluate the safety of the pesticides, known as neonicotinoids, and do followup studies in this country where some bumblebees are teetering on extinction.

Marine mammals are ‘swimming in sick seas’ of pathogens

February 21, 2012 Leave a comment

Parasites and pathogens are increasingly being detected in marine mammals such as sea otters, porpoises, harbour seals and killer whales along the Pacific coast of the U.S. and Canada, according to a panel of scientific experts. It seems this is the inevitable result of diminishing wetland marshes, increased run-off from urban areas near the coast, and lower water quality.

Why does it matter? Here’s how Andrew Trites of UBC’s Marine Mammal Research Unit puts it: “We can expect increased health risks for humans, pets and marine mammals sharing the same polluted marine habitat — including along the shorelines right here in downtown Vancouver. In a way, marine mammals are the canary in the coal mine — we must consider ourselves warned and take appropriate action.”

Marine mammals are ‘swimming in sick seas’ of terrestrial pathogens.

%d bloggers like this: