VANCOUVER, May 7/2002 - "When someone destroys a work of man we call him a vandal. But when someone destroys a work of God and nature, we call him a sportsman," says a angry Al Hickey, Western Regional Director for The Humane Society of Canada (HSC). International news coverage about the Saskatchewan gopher slaughter is also harming the reputation of everyone who lives in Saskatchewan according to The Humane Society of Canada (HSC).


"Most of those living in Saskatchewan are kind hard working people. But because of this gopher slaughter, many outsiders are regarding them as trigger happy, slack jawed yokels, blasting away at defenceless little animals," says Al Hickey, Western Regional Director for The Humane Society of Canada (HSC).


"In my view, one of the real culprits here is the Saskatoon Wildlife Federation which is offering cash prizes to people who kill the most animals, by paying a bounty for every tail they turn in to verify a kill. Many people think that this local organization is helping animals. If I was one of their donors, I’d be on the telephone right now demanding to know how my hard earned money was being spent," says HSC Executive Director, Michael O'Sullivan.

The Saskatoon Wildlife Federation can be reached by contacting:

Len Jabush
Business Manager
Saskatoon Wildlife Federation
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The animals actually being killed are Richardson’s Ground Squirrels, which are commonly called gophers.

O’Sullivan, whose father was a farmer, and who has himself worked on farms, says he has little time for farmers’ complaints about wildlife. "There’s no doubt about it. Farming is a hard life, but life is also hard for wild animals who are constantly being displaced and killed by agriculture and sprawling cities. Rewarding people based on how much animal suffering they can cause is sickening and dysfunctional by anyone’s standards," says O’Sullivan.

"In my view, the people who participate in this kind of wholesale slaughter, and those who pay them to do it, have a bolt loose in their heads," said a disgusted O’Sullivan.

The animal charity also says that this 12-week long slaughter fest will cause incredible suffering. Not only will the animals who are shot suffer, but since the young are born in May and begin foraging with their mothers in June, many others will be orphaned and die or be killed when adult females are shot.

O’Sullivan is also concerned with what effect this killing of Richardson’s Ground Squirrels will have on the ecosystem. "These animals consume many insects, including caterpillars, grasshoppers and crickets. What will happen to these insect populations if the Richardson’s Ground Squirrel population is significantly reduced? Will the insect populations grow out of control resulting in an increased use of harmful pesticides by farmers? What will happen to animals who depend on Richardson’s Ground Squirrels for food?"

The Humane Society of Canada is also concerned about the message being sent to our children. "Our generation’s track record pertaining to environmental issues is deplorable," says O’Sullivan. "When barbaric, stupid events like this one are encouraged, we’re teaching our children to continue making our past mistakes and that might makes right over the millions of other species with whom we share the planet."

CONTACT: Michael O'Sullivan by toll free 1-800-641-KIND or Michael on his cell phone (416) 876-9685 or at via twitter at and on Facebook at:

[For more than 17 years, Al Hickey was the Chief Executive of the BC SPCA and before that headed up the Alberta and BC Chambers of Commerce, and was the Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Vancouver. He has been The HSC Western Regional Director for over 12 years. He has 4 children and 6 grandchildren. For his lifetime of achievement dedicated to helping people, animals and the environment, we have bestowed upon him our prestigious Heroes for Animals Award, shared by only a handful of people and organizations.

A father with two children, and a houseful of dogs and cats, Michael O'Sullivan has worked across Canada and in over 110 countries during the last 40 years helping people, animals and nature.]

The Humane Society of Canada (HSC) works to protect dogs, cats, horses, birds, rabbits and small animals, livestock, lab animals, wildlife and the environment. We carry out hands on programs to help animals and nature, mount rescue operations, expose cruelty through hard hitting undercover investigations, work to pass laws to protect animals, use a multidisciplinary approach, support animal shelters and wildlife rehabilitation centres, and spread the word about how to help animals and nature through humane education.

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