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article imageMascot controversy over Canada's beaver and polar bear

By Nancy Houser     Oct 31, 2011 in Environment
If Canada's Conservative Senator Nicole Eaton has her way, the magnificent polar bear will soon be replacing the busy little beaver as Canada’s National Symbol.
Senator Eaton has been known to refer to the beaver, Canada's current mascot, as nothing but a “dentally defective rat,” according to a Reuters article. In contrast, she feels that the polar bear should be considered the country’s next mascot as it represents "strength, courage, resourcefulness and dignity.”
The article reports that climate change campaigner, Keith Stewart, is skeptical about the mascot change to the polar bear---a man who is proposed to be Eaton’s upcoming replacement. Actually, Senator Eaton is mounting a nationwide vendetta campaign against the little beaver because the little mascots wreck havoc on the dock at her waterfront cottage every summer, a situation she verbally delivered to the Canadian House on Thursday, October 27, 2011.
Stewart responded,
"You have a Conservative senator proposing to replace the beaver with the polar bear as the symbol of Canada, yet her government's climate policy would appear to do everything possible to wipe out polar bears by the end of the century," he said.
What he is referring to is the decreasing numbers of polar bears in Canada, with the Nunavat government (the largest and newest federal territory of Canada) saying there is not enough data to support the fact that the polar bear is a species of special concern,
"There are approximately 15,000 polar bears in Canada, accounting for 60 per cent of the world's polar bear population, according to federal estimates. Management of polar bears in Canada is the responsibility of provincial and territorial governments, with scientific expertise from Environment Canada. Last year, the Nunavut government argued against listing the polar bear as a species of special concern, saying there is no clear evidence to support that designation." (Eye on the Arctic)
The Daily News Alert reports that the beaver has been the country’s mascot since 1975, the primary resource that lured mercantile-based explorers to the continent in its early days. The high fashion of the time was fur top-hats, and Canada’s beaver population was in the millions---with 200,000 pelts a year sold to the European market.
Arctic Polar Bears
Arctic Polar Bears
Center for Biological Diversity
The explorer not only trapped and skinned the beaver, but would trade European supplies to local natives in exchange for beaver pelts to sell to the market. The Native Americans were considered a number one source of beaver pelts and buffalo hides for Canada, the Great Lakes and the upper Missouri River.
According to the Fur Trapper, the natives would use clubs, deadfalls, nets and snares to seize the plentiful beavers for their villages, trading until the early 1800s. The excess pelts not used by the natives for their personal use was traded for European goods at places like the Missouri River trade fairs.
Unfortunately, in the latter years, the term “beaver” has been sexually associated with a woman’s genitals in addition to this little animal causing excessive damage to the environment.
CBC News
in Canada reports that beavers are known for their dam-building abilities, which causes problems for local farmers and along exercise trails where trees in excess are chewed down. In March, “the provincial government of Canada had pledged $500,000 to help remove beavers and dams from areas where water-loving animals are causing damage.” (The money was matched by rural municipalities.)
Polar bear
Polar bear
Photo by davipt
NOTE: Canada’s Department of National Defense has placed an initial order of 1,000 fur-trimmed caps at a cost of $65,000. The hats are for use by guards of honor and Canadian Forces for winter protection. (Globe and Mail)
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