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magazine / dec09

December 2009 issue


The wild life
From trapping beavers and slaughtering bison to banding geese and tracking dragonflies, wildlife management principles and practices have evolved dramatically over the past century
By Brian Payton

Stiff, withered, inert. Packed inside enormous glass jars, their small bodies shared shelf space with curls of lizard skin, shards of shark cartilage and a colossal overstock of ginseng. This was not what I had come to see. I was on an undercover tour of Vancouver’s Chinatown, hunting for products containing illicit bear bile, which is used in traditional Chinese medicine. My guide, Ernie Cooper, Canada’s top wildlife-trafficking investigator, was being increasingly thwarted in his search. The bear-bile trade had effectively gone underground. Instead, Cooper was turning his attention to the subtle nuances distinguishing the nearly 50 species of sea horse, many of which are threatened.

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