RAPP Grizzly


In my wanderings yesterday, I met a grizzly bear — what a delight.

That delight faded when I realized that it was being used as a promotional billboard for a provincial ministry. It bore ear tags that proclaimed:

Huh? What in the world is RAPP, and why would a grizzly be used to promote it? 

My immediate reaction was that RAPP must be part of a grizzly tracking programme and that the folks that stapled this message to the bear’s ears wanted to know where it was. 

How naive of me. 

RAPP stands for Report All Poachers and Polluters. The number is also used to report conflicts with wildlife. Ok, these are a worthy causes. But, does it merit stapling the message to a Grizzly’s ears? I tried phoning the number, but the recorded message left no option to ask that question of a human.

I invite readers to suggest other worthy governmental promotions that might be stapled to provincial wildlife. I offer a few examples:

• Highways could have deer marked to proclaim: Watch for wildlife.
• All spirit bears could have ear tags that said: Na-na, na-na, you can’t shoot me.
• Forestry could put flags on caribou antlers that said: We support logging.
• Maybe schoolchildren could be used to promote the Education Ministry’s bargaining position.

I chatted with the grizzly about the strange adornments on its ears. It assured me that it was deeply embarrassed to be used as a billboard for any governmental programme. It said, “It just hurts.”

At this point, I remembered Aesop’s fable of the lion and the thorn. “Would you like me to remove them for you?” I asked. “Yes, please don’t let me appear in your blog this way.” I said, “Consider it done.” The grizzly smiled its appreciation. 

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15 Responses to RAPP Grizzly

  1. Lorna says:

    Thank you for reporting on this form of pollution. 😉

  2. Jon Galm says:

    Bravo. I glad somebody has taken this stupid idea to task.

  3. Eileen Delehanty Pearkes says:

    Couldn’t agree more Jon Galm. Alistair, you are a fantastic “whistle-blower” for wildlife who otherwise often do not have a voice.

  4. Marie says:

    This is awful. I am sending an email to the Minister of Environment, Mary Polack: ENV.minister@gov.bc.ca
    Thanks Alistair

  5. Irene McIlwaine. says:

    Thanks, Alistair and well done you.

  6. Christine says:

    I am glad to see this publicly. I will support Marie, any action you take.

  7. Max says:

    According to the current hunting regs, there are collared and ear tagged animals being studied in the Kootenays. Hunters are required to self report to the RAPP line if they kill a marked animal. There is no grizzly hunting in the Kootenays but there is for black bear.

    They won’t get in trouble for accidentally shooting a grizzly if they self report. At least then the scientists know what happened.

    Not fun having a bit of plastic stapled to the ears but maybe would also make a hunter look and think twice before blasting away at a rare animal …I am wondering if I was a grizzly would I also want mine to light up at night?…


    • Alistair says:

      Max, the way you present this, the tag is a kind of Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free card. Certainly, if a mistake is made and the wrong animal (in bureaucratese) is harvested, contrition to a conservation officer helps. Yet, two places assure hunters that they should readily kill tagged and collared animals, but merely return the tags and collars to a Ministry office so the fate of the animals can be noted. This activity seems to have no connection with RAPP. However, it is a confusing document. The actual content is a small bit of mortar stuffed between the endless bricks of glossy advertisements for guns, taxidermy, trophies, retrievers, ATVs, outfitters, and on and on.

      • Max says:

        I am a pragmatist and to me worrying about ear tags on bears is like fiddling while Rome burns.

        Here some scientists are studying bears most likely with the very best of intentions and barely any money. This is the best way they could think of.

        I don’t like the glossy format with ads either but I am sure the Conservation Service can use every penny it gets, they are so understaffed it is not funny.

  8. Dave Brackett says:

    Alistair, it seems to me that putting the ear tags on what I assume was a stuffed bear served the intended purpose. You did not know about the RAPP program and now you do. This way of publicizing the program caught your attention when it seems the roadside signs about the program did not. You didn’t reach someone to debate the specifics of this way of making people aware of the program but you now have the number to call to report a real incident. Unfortunately, as the tags were removed, the next person to see the bear won’t have the same educational opportunity.

    • Alistair says:

      Dave, chuckle, that was a very alive, marauding, and feeding grizzly. It was in the company (within metres) of a sibling and their mother, all sporting ear tags (I have pictures of all of them). Plus, the mother wore a collar. The problem is that this tagging and tracking seems to have nothing to do with RAPP — at least RAPP offers no provision by web page or phone for tracking. It was this incongruity that had me puzzled for I was actually aware of RAPP in the context of poaching.

      Now, as this was a real and vigorous grizzly bear, how DO you suppose that I removed its tags?

  9. Pamella says:

    How dare they impose a utilitarian human agenda on a wild animal’s body. It is, I feel, deeply offensive, and humans have no right to be doing this. Tag, tuck, tickle our domestic pets, yes, but wild animals should be inviolate. Beyond the trauma this procedure may produce, beyond the unforseeable consequences of wearing these unatural ear intrusions, just that these things are there violates a fundamental tenet of what wild is and bespeaks a lack of respect, honor, sensitivity and comprehension. It is in the very nature that they are not us, have no traffic in the human realm that bestows upon wild animals their irreplicable mystery and value on this planet. As well, this practice is an offense to art, photographic craft, depth of thought and being and seeing. And, I would think, an ignominious offense to the bear. As it told Alistair: “It just hurts.”

  10. Douglas Thorburn says:

    Nice work Alistair! Not sure if you are aware of the “bear 71” documentary, which deals with the extent of animal tracking within the national park system. Worth a watch…

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