If I look at the mass, I will never act. If I look at the one, I will.” ~ Mother Teresa

Our natural world aches; its wounds fester. Environmental disasters have become not only more common but unprecedented in scale. Biodiversity is rapidly vanishing. We hear about it; we read about it. On May 6th, 2019, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) issued a report stating that “one million animal and plant species are threatened with extinction, many within decades, more than ever before in human history.” World Wildlife Fund (WWF) keeps updating its Living Planet…


Image by Tony Joyce Photography

The notion of coexistence with wildlife is an aspirational goal but, in British Columbia, it is soaked in blood. Between 2011 and 2019, 4,341 black bears were killed by the Conservation Officer Service (COS). In 2020 alone, 515 black bears have been shot. Most of them lost their lives merely for having come into contact with people or food attractants. Their deaths have not been accidental occurrences, nor have they been caused by panic-stricken citizens shooting animals with their rifles. No, in British Columbia, killing black bears is a highly structured and systematic endeavor. …


© Image used with permission

“Bears are intrinsically social, they need to be social, but our species has not let them do so because of our own profound fear.” ~ Charlie Russell

Our streets are stained with blood. Between 2011 and 2019, 4,341 black bears were killed by the Conservation Officer Service (COS) in British Columbia. Last year alone, 542 bears lost their lives. They were not destroyed or euthanized, but shot dead or left to die, writhing in agony from mortal wounds. Still, the number of deaths is only a number, and no matter how high it is, the cold abstraction conceals individual anguish…


Photo credit: John E. Marriott

“Just as ships’ bottoms pick up layers of barnacles over time, so, through their lives, human societies and individuals become encrusted with layers of cultural and ideological sediment. … The cemented coating clings as though chemically bonded to me and screams bloody bloody murder at my slightest advance…”~John Livingston

A war on wildlife in British Columbia never ends; cruelty goes on, unabated. We cannot unshackle ourselves from the self-centered belief system — the thickened layer of barnacles — that destines us to view nature as a resource subordinate to our needs. When, in 1981, John Livingston wrote “Fallacy of Wildlife…


Times are changing. For the better, people say. Among other things, we have begun to recognize empathy and compassion as guiding principles in our co-existence with nature. We also increasingly extend the feelings that were previously reserved for our own species to non-human animals.

In the ideal world, that is. In reality, evil in man’s heart has hardly been eradicated by the ‘civilizing process’ and, as in a bygone age, a great number of people are still shackled by the mentality of violence. …


Photo credit: www.oceanadventures.bc.ca

A grizzly bear waded through the shallow water towards a rocky riverbank. It was still early and the awakened mist was now lazily rising from the ground. After he made it to the other side, the bear sat on the edge of the river and watched the rays of the dawning sun cut through the transparent veil. The forest was silent, almost uneventful. A sudden chirping of a little bird — strangely agitated and buried deep in the foliage — caught the bear’s interest. …


PHOTOGRAPH BY PIPPA HANKINSON/COURTESY OF “BLOOD LIONS”

“Until such time as the voice of the lion is heard, history will be written to glorify the hunter.” African Proverb

A lion leans down to feast on a flab of meat that was just thrown at him. It’s early afternoon, the African sun is beaming down…Suddenly, out of nowhere, rifle shots go off. A first bullet pierces the lion, then the second comes. The lion turns around, twists his body, the power of the shot lifts him up into the air. …


Photo credit: www.oceanadventures.bc.ca

‘Super, Natural British Columbia’

I once watched a mother bear with her two cubs. She was resting but carefully watching the little ones chasing each other in the grass, wrestling and rolling down the little hill, and then climbing back and wrestling again. Then the cubs decided that it was time for their mom to get involved in the play. They ran back to her and pounced on her a few times until she nudged them away with her snout. One cub stood up but couldn’t keep his balance and fell down to the side, sliding down the little hill…


The question is not, “Can they reason?” nor, “Can they talk?” but rather, “Can they suffer?” ~Jeremy Bentham

“Sunny ways, my friends. Sunny ways…time for change in this country my friends. Real change.” This is, of course, what Justin Trudeau told his enthusiastic supporters in Montreal during his victory speech on October 20, 2015. Trudeau reminded us that Canada was built by people from different parts of the world, representing different languages, cultures and faiths. At the same time, the new government committed itself to promoting equality, generosity, compassion, and peacekeeping. …


Image Credit: Can Stock Photo

“You can’t be afraid of words that speak the truth, even if it’s an unpleasant truth….I don’t like words that hide the truth.” ~ George Carlin

Ajolt of paralyzing pain tears through the bear’s body. The animal staggers — his heart pounding, almost touching the bullet that lodged itself deep into the throbbing lungs. In an instant, blood floods the organs but somehow, surprisingly, it doesn’t spill out onto the ground, as if in a lonely act of mercy, it refused to aid the pursuers with a traceable path. No use, though. No use. Racked with an anguishing pain —…

Gosia Bryja, PhD

Environmental & wildlife conservation scientist, compassionate conservationist

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