Hunting. Mining. Pipelines. These are just a few of the threats that Tommy Knowles and the Wildlife Defense League are blockading in order to protect our natural world. After the launch of Operation Great Bear in September, the WDL has allied with the Klabona Keepers of the Tahltan Nation to successfully prevent trophy hunters from killing grizzly bears in the region. However, the bears are not Tommy’s sole priority, as the area is also threatened by industrial developers such as Kinder Morgan and Imperial Metals, who severely pollute the land and water, which harm and kill the animals living there.
After the time he spent with Sea Shepherd, Tommy’s experiences have influenced the tactics he employs to protect animals in British Columbia. Tommy notes that animals such as sharks and wolves have been scapegoated in order to justify industrial development. He strongly supports the use of direct action, and has put his life and body on the line. Tommy also calls for the use of independent (not government-sponsored) research to understand the detriments of hunting and fishing on both the animals themselves as well as on ecosystems.
Tommy reminds us that it is unceded territory that the Canadian government and extractive industries are trying to develop on. He also explains the difference between indigenous hunting and trophy/settler hunting and the importance of calling out racism, both within the animal rights/liberation community, as well as in relation to white settler hunters who attempt to restrict aboriginal rights. He states that animal activists need to “start recognizing that indigenous people are at the forefront of the battle to defend land, to defend wildlife, and to defend traditions that have gone on for thousands of years, and as settlers we need to get behind these people.”
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**We apologize for the audio quality in the first half of the interview. We were experiencing technical difficulties!