Humans and animals: What are we doing? (First in a series)

Harbour seal

Harbour seal on the East Coast of Vancouver Island. (Photo by Stijn Francois)

Every day, there are animals across the province being affected by humans. This series of seven articles will look at the major influences humans are having on wild animals in B.C. Some of the things people are able to do with research and science are remarkable; others are the complete opposite.

On Wednesday, Oct. 16, B.C. Conservation officers sent out a plea for public help in locating a grizzly bear named Jewel in Lillooet. She is one of six reproducing female grizzlies of the highly threatened Stein-Nahatalatch grizzly bear population.

Jewel wore a radio transmitting collar and her last reading was in October 2012. In June 2013, her collar was found by a surveying crew. Conservation officers are assuming Jewel was the victim of illegal hunting and are currently trying to track down the answer.

It is a harsh reality to watch a population, particularly one so distinct in British Columbia, like the grizzly, be whittled down year after year at least in part because of people. Of the 53 grizzly bear “population units” identified by the province, nine are threatened with extinction.

Others are having a more positive effect on wildlife.

The Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, based out of the Vancouver Aquarium, is one of the largest organizations in B.C. caring for sea mammals, which include seals, dolphins and whales.

Recently, the non-profit organization released 11 harbour seals into the waters at Crescent Beach in Surrey. All had been rehabilitated at the Vancouver Aquarium for two to three months and were deemed suitable to be released back into the wild. Approximately 70 seals have been brought into the facility so far this year, and about half of them have been released.

While the Pacific harbour seal is no longer an at-risk species, it is still the most common one seen at the Rescue Centre. Harbour seals have only three main predators: killer whales, sharks and humans.

Humans are a major threat to them because of the fishing industry in B.C. Seals can be caught up in nets or killed by fishermen because they are eating too many fish. This caused drastically lowered populations from 1913-1970.

The population has stabilized since then.

Humans are not always detrimental to animals. There are researchers around the globe making progress in discovering new species and breeding existing species in order to counter declining populations. That’s the subject for part two of this series.

Through the course of this series, we will continue to explore progress and benefits from humans, as well as some of the negative sides that can be prevented through the help of ordinary citizens.

• • •

The Marine Mammal Rescue Centre says if you come across a marine mammal in distress that you should leave it alone and phone the Centre at 604-258-SEAL(7325).


Journalism student at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Lover of social media, photography, and reading the news.


  • […] Humans and animals: What are we doing? (First in a series) […]

  • Avatar
    Reply October 20, 2013


    Nicely written, Ashley. Humans do indeed inflict quite a bit of damage on the wildlife around us. Also, over the earths history, there have been periods where more than 90% of all species on earth have been wiped out in one go due to natural disasters, but earth always seems to recover to an even more beautiful collection of beings. So i think there is lots of cause for optimism for the future ax well whilst we must try to minimise the damage we do as dominant humans. Jan

  • Avatar
    Reply October 25, 2013

    Alexandra Hawley

    Great post! It’s well written, I want to hear more about the Bear tracking people and the Marine Mammal Rescue! You only talk about them briefly and I feel that there is so much more to learn.

    • Avatar
      Reply October 25, 2013

      Ashley Ezart

      Thanks so much for your feedback! I really appreciate it! I’m hoping to include more posts about them in the rest of the series, including one about the Marine Mammal Rescue coming soon. :).

  • […] Humans and animals: What are we doing? (First in a series) […]

  • […] This is the last post in a series of seven about the advantages and disadvantages of the contact between humans and animals. The first article can be found here. […]

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