We have a lot in store for you this December update! We've put together a full year in review, an amazing Q& A with John E. Marriott, and included a special update to our Trapped in the Past documentary! (Plus More!)
This past year, we have seen and been a part of many efforts supporting wildlife and apex predators. This effort would not be possible without your help in giving wildlife a voice! As we look ahead to the new year, we would like to take a moment to share with you highlights from this past year.
At the start of the year, we held our very first silent auction Through (our) Wild Eyes. Through the generosity of incredible artists, photographers, and organizations that donated an item and the amazing supporters like you who placed bids and made donations, we raised just over $23,000 in support of apex predators!
One of the initiatives funded through our first silent auction was commissioning bear expert Dr. Sarah Elmeligi to create a Recovering Alberta’s Grizzly Bears – Next Steps for Success report which addresses the gaps found in Alberta’s 2020 Grizzly Bear Recovery plan. Within this report are actionable and realistic solutions that we are currently exploring.
These solutions will aid us in our mission to ensure that the recovery of grizzly bears in Alberta continues. In 2023, we will be focusing on implementing these solutions as well as sharing with you ways that you can get involved in supporting Alberta’s grizzly bears!
Wildlife killing contests involve animals being killed for the accumulation of points which are then redeemed for cash or other prizes. Coyotes, wolves, bears, cougars, bobcats, and raccoons are typically the animals targeted through these contests which are legal and widely practiced throughout British Columbia and Alberta.
This year, we and several other environmental and animal protection organizations, conservationists, and wildlife-based businesses have joined Humane Society International’s efforts to update BC’s Wildlife Act to prohibit the inhumane and unethical practices of wildlife killing contests.
Earlier this month, Humane Society International released an open letter calling for Minister Conroy to end these archaic and appalling killing events. As we await Minister Conroy’s response, you can read the press release through the button below.
In 2022, we went from 1 dedicated volunteer to 12 (and growing)! Each of these volunteers has a critical role in helping us fulfill our mission of creating change in how apex predators are managed and valued across Canada. If you are interested in volunteering in support of bears, wolves, and cougars, you can learn more about our volunteer program through the button below.
Last month we officially launched the Insider Portal! The Insider Portal is the hub where our monthly donors can access all of their Insider benefits. Here, they can find their discount code for merchandise, Insider Updates, previous Insider events recordings, seasonal wallpaper, and more!
When you become a monthly donor with us, you join our special community of wildlife advocates and change-makers while your ongoing support makes a direct and lasting impact on the treatment, management, and advocacy of apex predators.
As this year comes to a close and we look ahead to 2023, we ask that you consider becoming a monthly donor at Exposed and be a part of the solution for apex predator management in Canada.
Exposed Ambassadors have a special role in advocating for bears, wolves, and cougars. They harness the power of storytelling through visual mediums to bring awareness to current critical wildlife challenges, solutions, and efforts. Although this is not a new program at Exposed, we have recently updated this program to create more value for both apex predators and Ambassadors alike.
The Ambassador Program is dedicated in memory of Lee Horbachewski. Lee was one of our first volunteers and Ambassadors. Her passion and dedication to wildlife inspired this program and helped grow us into what we are today. Lee is immensely missed but we strive to keep her legacy and passion alive through the Ambassador Program.
Follow the button below to learn about this program and apply to join our community of Ambassadors alongside John E. Marriott, Colleen Gara, and Tim Osborne.
What do you think this young moose is thinking? Let us know by responding to this newsletter!
Photo by Exposed Ambassador Tim Osborne
This year, we had several artists donate limited edition prints of their beautiful paintings to help fund our conservation work. This includes Andrea Moore’s gorgeous ‘In the Moment’ wolf painted from one of John’s Yellowstone wolf images, Doria Moodie’s stunning ‘Diver’ art piece also painted from one of John’s more recognizable photos, and Susie Cipolla’s amazing painting of John’s famous ‘Frank the Tank’ image.
Each of these prints is available for purchase as a numbered, limited edition fine art print with a one-inch white border while quantities last. Prints start at $100 and all proceeds go directly to support our apex predators!
Wear your support of the Conservancy! Did you know that we have a selection of high-quality and comfy gear that gives back to cougars, wolves, and bears? We have toques and hoodies for those cooler days and t-shirts for the warmer days out exploring Canada’s wilderness.
In the new year, we will release a selection of campaign-specific merchandise for our Cougar Coexistence Project, Trapped In the Past Campaign, and more. Stay tuned for the official launch of these new designs in 2023!
We would like to give a special thank you to InFocus Canada and Viktoria Haack for their support and generosity in donating a portion of their sales of Viktoria Haack's 'Bubbles' scarves to our projects!
InFocus Canada, located in Squamish, BC, offers unique, sustainably produced, high-quality fashion scarves that tell a multi-faceted story. Viktoria Haack is a professional generalist photographer based in Salmon Arm, BC, who creates exquisite portraits, landscapes and is exploring wildlife photography. Viktoria has chosen us as her organization of choice to receive a percentage of her scarf sales.
Click here to check out Viktoria's beautiful 'Bubbles' scarf.
As promised, here are his responses to your questions:
Q: When will snaring & poisons be banned? We've all worked so hard at this. What's it going to take?
A: Great, but complex, question. The fact of the matter is that wildlife regulations are often tough to change, but concerted public effort to shut down the grizzly bear hunt in BC was successful (as it was in Alberta a decade prior) and I believe that that’s the key to seeing change in our trapping regulations and in particular, with snaring and poisoning, both wildlife issues that fly under the public’s radar for the most part. Our goal at Exposed is to, well, “expose” these issues so that a much larger percentage of the public is aware of what’s going on and starts to treat these issues as ones they care about. The grizzly campaign in BC took almost 30 years, but we believe we can affect change in Alberta and beyond with both snaring and poisoning in a much shorter time period, particularly given that states like California have set out guidelines for how wildlife should be managed (California has banned trapping altogether). It’s going to take a shift in values with the public, but that’s part of what our Trapped in the Past campaign aims to deliver on. I’m excited to share it with everyone once it’s complete, I really think it’s going to shock people and make them care about getting these regulations changed and that’s the first key step.
Q: While you're out there photographing beautiful wildlife, how do you stay sane when governments and industry continue to kill and wreck habitats?
A: I never claim to have remained sane over my career, haha. The truth is I get infuriated with how our wildlife is treated and it’s why I’ve dedicated so much of my time and energy toward fighting against the injustices I see in how our wildlife and our forests are managed (which is very heavily skewed toward industry, hunters and trappers). This needs to change, particularly now that people are becoming aware of the biodiversity crisis we are facing here in Canada and beyond. But back to answering your question more directly, I stay somewhat sane by continually focusing on what needs to be done and by keeping constant communication with other groups similar to Exposed (I personally talk regularly with staff and volunteers from Echo Conservation, Raincoast Conservation, Alberta Wilderness Association and CPAWS, to name a few). And of course, the magical experiences I have in the field always help me to stay on course and to remember what’s worth fighting for.
Q: How long does it take to wait for the perfect shot?
A: There is no correct answer to this question, because sometimes a perfect shot walks right in front of me while I’m driving down the road (like with my first ever *good* cougar shot in 2005), and other times it’s the result of years of searching and hiking and snowshoeing and learning about an animal before I finally realize the encounter I’ve dreamed of (like with my cougar and kitten encounter in January 2021). Last winter (2021-22), I hiked almost 400 kms tracking cougars and never saw a single one!
Q: How are the wolf packs in the Bow Valley/Banff National Park faring these days?
A: There is currently one main pack in the Bow Valley/Banff National Park and they’re doing really well. The lead female is Riley, who is the daughter of the original mating pair that formed the first semblances of what’s now known as the Banff Town pack. This was the same family that ran into trouble with people back in 2016-17 and Riley’s mom and one of her siblings ended up being killed by Parks Canada. Thankfully, that aggressive action by Parks Canada reset Riley’s Dad’s behaviour and her own behaviour and she is now functioning incredibly well as the matriarch of the family. It’s believed the pack currently has 8 members as of December 19th, 2022.
Q: Have you ever been in a position where you were genuinely nervous for your safety?
A: Yes, a number of times, unfortunately. The one that leaps to mind immediately is the time I was chased by a cow elk in Jasper into a pond. I had been photographing a loon in the pond and hadn’t noticed an elk calf laying in the tall grasses and I suddenly found myself facing an enraged mother elk that chased me into four feet (1.3m) of water. I was holding my big lens and camera and tripod above my head and was in up to my shoulders, and the elk charged out and started rearing up and hammering the water in front of me with her hooves. It was by far the most terrifying experience I’ve ever had in the wild and I thought I was going to get seriously injured. When the cow elk finally left, I waded across the pond and got out on the other side, only to have the elk show up again and chase me into the trees, where she cornered me behind a pine tree and while I cowered on one side of the tree, she peeled the bark off of the other side with the blows of her hooves!
Interestingly, I have never been charged by a wolf or bear or cougar. However, I have had two heart-thumping experiences - one with a cougar and a pack of wolves and another with a grizzly and a pack of wolves - that sort of qualify as dangerous experiences and that definitely can’t be told in a brief description here, so if you want to hear/read about those, you’ll need to pick up my latest book, The Kootenay Wolves!
Q: What is your favourite and/or most moving encounter with wildlife?
A: Ooooh boy. What a loaded question. The first thing that springs to my mind is my encounter two winters ago with a wolverine by Lake Louise. I don’t know a single other photographer on earth that has got to spend two days with a wolverine au natural (i.e. without baiting or calling the animal in). But on an even more emotional level, my years-long experiences with Delinda of the Bow Valley wolf family, with Spirit and Faith of the Pipestone wolf family, and more recently with Mom and Whitey of the Kootenay wolf family, are the experiences I reflect on the most. I was editing photographs recently and I came across the photo that graces the end of my book, The Kootenay Wolves, and I teared up staring at it. What ever finally happened to Mom? In that photo she was probably close to ten years old, which is about ninety in human terms. Did she live much longer? How did she die? And instantly I was off in that wonderful place where my memories are stored, remembering some of the glorious encounters I had with her over the years. That’s tough to top and it makes me emotional just writing about it.
In 2016, we released an episode exposing you to the Alberta wolf cull. We experienced success from this episode in caribou habitat recovery when West Fraser Hinton paused its controversial clearcut plan in critical habitat of threatened A La Peche caribou. However, the wolf cull has continued in Western Canada.
Despite the vital role wolves have in our ecosystem, 463 were killed in British Columbia during the winter of 2020, and 237 were killed in the winter of 2021 through lethal wolf culling programs. This is a part of a controversial wildlife management strategy that has recently been extended in British Columbia by its provincial government until 2026. The purpose of this strategy is to protect declining caribou populations in western Canada, specifically in British Columbia and Alberta, from the predation of wolves. This is accomplished by culling wolves, a strategy that Alberta has used since 2005.
The Fur-Bearers has uncovered shocking and disturbing new information regarding the British Columbia wolf cull. Through documents obtained by Freedom of Information request, the Fur-Bearers have learned that the BC Government is using wolf pups as 'Judas' wolves.
Here is an excerpt from those documents as revealed by the Fur-Bearers:
"In one report, a black female wolf pup identified by the contractors as #81234 (who we are naming Nadina after a mountain in the region where she was killed) was radio-collared on January 29, 2022. The contractors tracked and shot the seven wolves in her pack, but left Nadina alive. Six weeks later, on March 16, 2022, the contractors found her again. She was traveling with another black wolf pup. When the pair of wolf pups were spotted, the contractors killed both, later retrieving the radio collar from Nadina’s dead body."
Wolf culling is an issue close to many of our hearts at Exposed. If you are as appalled as us by this cruel, unethical, and inhumane treatment of Canada's wolves, act now and give wolves, such as Nadina, a voice.
Take action, let your voice be heard, and help stop the wolf cull.
The passion and concern of people like you keep us going. As this year comes to a close and we look ahead to 2023, we would like to say thank you for being a part of the Exposed community and for giving wildlife a voice! We have had many projects on the go this year, two of the most prevalent being our Cougar Coexistence Project and Trapped In the Past Campaign.
Our team has been hard at work these past few months gathering research and developing our educational programs and public database for our newest initiative - The Cougar Coexistence Project! Because of you, we raised an incredible $5,860 this Giving Tuesday in support of this project!
The Cougar Coexistence Project provides realistic and effective wildlife management strategies for both communities living with and those recreating in close proximity to cougars in Alberta. We have piloted this project in the Village of Waiparous. With the help of community members, work is well underway to develop cougar coexistence strategies that will help reduce cougar conflicts and increase tolerance for this important apex predator.
In the New Year, we are meeting with the MD of Bighorn to discuss expanding our project into their community. In the meantime, the team will be installing trail cameras in the Village of Waiparous and continuing to develop our cougar educational database which will be available on our website come spring.
Stay tuned for updates in the coming weeks!
The Trapped In the Past Campaign is working toward a complete ban on the use of snares for commercial trapping. This campaign also looks to update all trapping regulations for fur-bearing mammals to be based on modern-day science and ethics as well as to better reflect the current values of society.
For the first time exclusive to our newsletter subscribers, please enjoy a 10-minute preview of our hard-hitting and investigative documentary Trapped in the Past, made in partnership with The Fur-Bearers, for our Trapped In the Past Campaign. Simply click on this photo and enter the password below to watch the preview.
Video Password: YearEndNewsletter.
We are so excited for what 2023 may bring and cannot wait to take you on the journey with us. If you want to take the next step in being a part of the solution to how apex predators are managed in Canada, we encourage you to consider becoming a volunteer, Ambassador, or Insider. We also have a growing selection of high-end conservation-focused merchandise that allows you to give back to wildlife while wearing your support!
Every effort makes a difference. YOU make a difference.
We would like to wish you the best for the remainder of this holiday season and the happiest New Year. We cannot wait for 2023 and the possibilities for apex predators that it brings.
Thank you for giving wildlife a voice.
The Exposed Wildlife Conservancy