Wednesday, July 13, 2016


               by Fireweed for the Island Word, May 2016 issue

Jordan & Athena
       Here's hoping that Jordan and Athena are already neck deep in mountain blueberries by now! Thankfully, the black bear siblings were in very good health at the time of their June release on Vancouver Island. Sufficient fat stores should help ease any difficulty transitioning back to life in the wild after their year-long stay at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre. Orphaned at just a few months of age in Port Hardy, the cubs gained notoriety after it became widely known that the Conservation Officer responsible for their mother's death had refused an order to destroy them also. Bryce Casavant's defiance cost him his job, but today Athena and Jordan are back where they belong, roaming free.

click on image to enlarge
      Contact with humans was strictly prohibited while the cubs were in captivity in order to increase their chances for long term survival. Six other young bears who haven't shared the media spotlight were released the same week, but Jordan and Athena were fitted with GPS tracking devices. A bear's search for food is such a driving force, it's no surprise that their incredible sense of smell can also lead to their demise. Sadly, conservation officers destroy hundreds of so-called “nuisance bears” around the province every year. The village of Cumberland, here in the Comox Valley, is particularly challenged because it just so happens to
be on a main migratory route for the regional population. Senior Conservation Officer Dan Dwyer has stated that bear encroachment into urban areas seems to come in cycles (lack of rainfall being one precursor of note.) The recent, widespread devastation wrought by fire in northern Alberta pushed bears into the evacuated city of Fort McMurray, beckoned by the aroma of rotting garbage and thawing freezers. We can only hope to learn, in time, that Jordan and Athena are managing to survive as far away from human activities as possible.

Fort McMurray, May 2016
        Cumberland , and many other communities here in BC and beyond, are to be applauded for promoting public awareness campaigns aimed at reducing human/bear conflicts at the local level. Understanding the bigger environmental picture is also crucial. Shrinking habitat is the most serious threat to natural food access for wildlife all over the planet today. Yes, that problem is tied directly to human encroachment (of all kinds), but it is also exacerbated by the myriad ways we are collectively contributing to global climate change. Scientists predict that as the planet continues to warm, we can expect an increase in, and frequency of, the kind of terrifying wildfires that wiped out thousands of creatures and their homes in bone dry northern Alberta this spring (spreading toxic ash from the incineration of human habitat in their wake.) As that ravaged landscape slowly recovers, its entire ecology is likely to change. According to researchers with Audubon and World Wildlife Fund, rising ocean and air temperatures are already forcing animals to “chase” the habitats they are accustomed to. Astoundingly, roughly half of the world's species are currently on the move. The situation is already so dire that an estimated one in six is predicted to go extinct if warming continues at its current pace.

Ken Wu of the Ancient Forest Alliance in the Walbran
        It's all connected. Ottawa is finally recommending marine protected areas and fishery closures to try and help save the threatened killer whales off our coast. Vancouver Island black bears depend on those fish too. And they play a major role in the redistribution of salmon nutrients vital to the health of our temperate rainforests. That these biologically diverse ecosystems remain under attack is utterly unacceptable- we need to stop logging the old growth right now! Conservationists recognize that doing so would have the potential to significantly help reduce BC's overall carbon dioxide emissions and enhance the function of our natural carbon sinks. We've been duly warned that the world is on a path of catastrophic global warming and that we should seek to reduce emissions as much and as quickly as possible.

James Cameron
       China recently showed the world it's paying attention by going where no western government has dared to tread so far- it is alerting its citizens to the fact that animal agriculture is responsible for more GHG emissions globally than all transportation combined and urging major dietary reform. Movie director James Cameron (lesser known as the vegan owner of Beaufort Winery here in the Comox Valley), is one of the celebrity spokespeople recruited to help spread the word. “China's move to cut meat consumption in half would not only have a huge impact on public health,” he told the UK Guardian, “it is a massive leadership step towards drastically reducing carbon emissions and reaching the goals set out in the Paris agreement."

      There are so many wonderful new 100% plant-based products on the market today, that it's easier than ever for those of us with the privilege of choice to make compassionate, climate-friendly food choices seven days a week. The all vegan sausages, hot dogs and amazing burgers from “The Very Good Butchers” on Denman Island are one more great reason to come explore our wonderful Farmer's Market any Saturday morning this summer. And here's a novel, incredibly tasty recipe to make at home, then introduce to others at that next barbecue!

(with special thanks to Deborah Cooper 
for her original recipe on Blacks Going

thx to HighCarb Hannah for this photo

You'll need:
8-10 medium sized organic carrots
2 cups water
Marinade Ingredients:
2 TB. Liquid smoke
1/4 cup Bragg's Aminos or Tamari
1 tsp. granulated garlic
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup Veggie bouillon (or non-chicken) broth
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 TB. maple syrup

Peel carrots to uniform shape, rounding ends (size to fit your buns.) Simmer in boiling water only until fork tender (approx. 8-10 minutes, don't overcook!) Combine marinade ingredients. Drain al dente carrots and run under cold water to cool. Lay all carrots flat in the marinade (a zip style plastic freezer bag works well) and marinate for 6-24 hours (no longer.) Place carrots in a hot non-stick skillet with a bit of the marinade to caramelize and brown the exterior. Serve with all the traditional fixings on an organic bun, and enjoy!

Please visit the LINKS column on the right hand side of this page for article references along with more great summer recipe ideas. And thank you in advance for sharing The Transition Kitchen column!

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