2018 AiR: Wildlife Defence League

I am very pleased to announce my first AIR partner, Wildlife Defence League.

Based out of North Vancouver, Wildlife Defence League (WDL) is a grass roots non-profit organization focused on educating, researching, in-field study and advocacy for wild animals and their habitat here in BC.

Their campaign that initially caught my attention was about the wolf cull in the interior. I have done artwork around the controversial wolf cull issue in the past and I have always found that after engaging with viewers on the art and the issue, the majority of people immediately want to learn more about it and how they might get involved themselves.

 

The issue: 

BC caribou populations are rapidly declining.  Studies and recommendations from experts show that the decline is the result of habitat loss due to human activities. The practice of clear cut forestry all across BC has left the caribou without their main food source and ultimately overexposed. The introduction of logging roads into natural habitat areas has literally carved out pathways for predators to gain unnaturally easy access to the caribou. Even in the the small select areas where logging is not permitted, highly disruptive human activities (snowmobiling & heli-skiing) are still allowed to occur. In short, event the protected Wildlife Management Areas are not entirely hospitable for a species categorized RED, ‘at risk’, the highest possible alert designation before extinction.

Despite expert recommendations to change forestry practices, there remains a fixation on the ‘predation’ part of the matter, largely ignoring the human activity basis of the imbalance in the ecosystem. There is no way to state this without it sounding overly sensational, but the fact is that the BC government is paying contractors to shoot entire wolf packs (from helicopters). Sadly, this is going on all across Canada and the US in the name of caribou recovery. In recent years more and more governing agencies across the globe are coming acknowledge that this a barbaric and cruel practice, one that does not actually lead to the recovery of caribou populations, and actually causes further issues within the delicate ecosystem.

I sincerely hope that we see this shift of mindset here in BC and I know that it is through public engagement across multiple platforms that important issues like these can be heard and changes be demanded by the active and the vocal. I hope that this Artist in Residence project will at the very least help share this information with a wider audience, many of whom I know are extremely passionate about defending BC’s wildlife too.

AIR goals:

In this AIR I am going to be focused on both the caribou and the wolf. While I don’t have every aspect of the project figured out yet (kinda the point of an AIR), I would like to wrap this AIR up with a body of work available in print format, with partial proceeds donated to this organization. Perhaps I will even be able to pull together an exhibition or community project. We’ll see!

I’ll aim to do a monthly progress report here on my website, and if you want to see the work on social platforms just search for the following hashtags:  #wednesdaywildlife #wildlifedefenceleague  and #sarahronaldAIR

If you have any question at all I would be happy to hear from you: sarah@sarahronald.com.

Sarah Ronald in front of ‘Chimera’, a mixed media painting about the interconnection of wolf & caribou.