Changing Planet

This Earth Day, Let’s Stand Up for Canadian Wildlife

By Gabriel Wildgen, Humane Society International/Canada

Canadians take pride in wild animals as symbols of our country’s deep connection to nature. Images of beavers, caribous, loons and polar bears adorn Canadian coins. Canada’s major airports welcome visitors with murals of breathtaking landscapes, complete with magnificent bears, whales and birds. These same visitors might also be shocked, however, to learn how abysmal many of Canada’s wildlife policies are, and that they’re made all the more glaringly apparent during April, when the world celebrates Earth Day.

The first day of April marked the beginning of the spring bear hunt, where hundreds of grizzlies are shot to death annually in British Columbia –with the full support of the provincial government– just so that trophy hunters can hang their heads, paws, and pelts up on a wall and share pictures of their kill on social media. This happens despite the fact that over 90 percent of B.C. residents are opposed to trophy hunting.

Every April, off the east coast of Newfoundland, federally licensed hunters shoot, impale and bludgeon tens of thousands of baby seals who are already facing dire threats to their survival from climate change. This continues despite polls showing that a majority of Canadians want to see the Atlantic commercial seal hunt ended and despite 40 countries worldwide—including the United States, the European Union nations, Russia and China— that prohibit the trade in products of commercial seal hunts or protect their seal populations from commercial hunting.

While April is a particularly dangerous time of year for Canadian wildlife, these kinds of mass, government-backed slaughters of wild animals continue throughout the entire year in Canada.

For instance, rather than implementing urgently-needed habitat restoration and protection measures to mitigate the damage done by resource-extraction industries, provincial governments in provinces such as B.C. and Alberta commission cruel mass culls of wolves in the name of protecting caribou and moose. This is despite plenty of scientific research showing that these culls are usually ineffective, and can often create new problems while making existing ones worse.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of Canadian animals – both wild and domestic– are caught in traps designed to strangle, drown, crush or restrain them until they die or until trappers find and kill them.

Perhaps worse off still are the millions of minks, foxes and other wild animals who are farmed for fur in Canada each year, languishing in small wire cages where they cannot engage in their most basic natural behaviours, and suffer from the physical and psychological trauma that results.

Last year, hunting and angling groups successfully blocked a federal bill that would have updated the criminal code, with modest measures to help law enforcement prosecute animal abusers. One of the reasons given was that the provision to make “brutal and vicious” killing of an animal illegal might apply to their own treatment of animals in their leisure time. The fact that these groups thought that these words might apply to their own actions speaks volumes, as does the fact that their influence over the Canadian Parliament is so strong that the bill was ultimately defeated by dozens of votes.

So this Earth Day, by all means, please do commit to common-sense measures to lower your environmental footprint by reducing waste, recycling more, using less energy and eating less meat. But don’t stop there. Get informed about the wildlife issues and take action to support the groups defending wild animals whenever possible. If you’re Canadian, pick up a pen, or better yet your phone, and write or call your representatives in government to tell them that you don’t support wild animal abuse, and neither should they.

It’s time for leaders at all levels of government in Canada to stop siding with the minority of Canadians who would rather kill wild animals than save them. Canadian politicians need to start acting in accordance with Canadian values, and put our public policies back in line with the wildlife-friendly image we project to the world.

Gabriel Wildgen is a campaign manager for Humane Society International/Canada

  • shirley furgoch

    As a proud Canadian, our wildlife is our strength. The ways in which we ignore how they embellish our country is appalling. I want our government to stand up to trophy hunting, to improve the lives of millions of animals who suffer needlessly. I want Canada to be UNIQUE and RESPONSIBLE . I want Canada to lead all other countries in the world in animal rights, in improving habitats and restoration.

  • Mare minn

    End exploitation and cruelty towards our wildlife!! And ban dog fighting! Make it illegal!!!

  • Paige Nelson

    Thank you for publishing. China has yet to ban seal products and is Canada’s last marketing hope.

  • barbara lilly

    Be respectful of our wildlife.


    lets stand for the wild life ,start with boycot canada !!

  • Chantal Forcier

    Animal was here before us than could we get more respect to life thanks to do something to change before it’s to late.

  • Linda Wark

    Thank you for writing this, I will share because I won’t stop until Canada wakes up. The fact that we couldn’t get a modernized animal protection act (Bill C-246), to the House of Commons was very disheartening. I have written to my MP (Terry Beech) who votes YES for this Bill but what do we do now if the House won’t let it forward? This government does not seem to care about it. Do you have any suggestions?

  • Marilyn Matinet

    Why kill defenceless animals. Those r God’s given creatures. If to many, get them fixed, killing them is suffering on their part. They r barely surviving as it is. No trees left for them, everything being destroyed by way to much cutting!

  • Pam McClure

    lets speak for them and protect them they need our help asap

  • Sylvia Tremblay

    Common Sense… always common sense!! This is just wrong.

  • Venecija Levi Breder

    Venecija Breder-Levi How far we are obligated to go with cruelty ,ignorance and selfishness for political reasons? I love my country Canada and Montreal as my city. But ,this kind of game in politics ..I don`t see in 21 century…and I am NOT the only one who sees it this way… HALLO !!!!

  • Andre

    Give our wild life a change! Stop exploitation of these beautiful animals.
    Help protect them!!

  • Sean

    We should be able to hunt the trophy hunters make it fair

  • Irina Salauyeva

    Please,Humanity,understand!!! There are no canadian animals or Chinese,or Russian or … OUR Planet is our common Home.We must protect it all together at every conner of the Earth..
    Thank you,for this initiative..

  • Betty Easson

    Please leave the wildlife alone and let the people who know what they are doing handle them. Stop the senseless killing. I hear three states in the US are trying to pass a law to kill all wolves. Why? Please, stop this. They are part of the this world for a reason and it needs to stay this way. Stop the killing please.

  • Madeleine Richards

    We choose to recognize the beauty of and pride we have in our natural wonders when it suits us, like on our stamps, money and when promoting our tourism and in the next breath we sell their lives for greed. What kind of country are?

  • Hanne Glem

    Stop killing your aninals, why do you do this,
    It is horrible and cruel!!!!

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