The Big Three: Bears, Cougars & Wolves
As Jane Newman, Managing Director of the Museum, explained, “There will be an exhibit opening called the Big Three and I am sure people have read about it in our newsletter, Tideline, the Cortes Marketer etc. It’s basically about the three large predators on Cortes: bears, cougars and wolves. The catalyst for Laurel Bohart and Donna Collins was the real activity of bears in Whaletown and Squirrel Cove this winter.”
As Bohart explained last November, when the Squirrel Cove Bear was still at large, “The Big Three is what we’re calling the next exhibit and Sabina (Leader-Mense) has nicely taken down her species at risk stuff for us. So we have a space to put up some information and Donna Collins, our museum’s new President, is making supports for the skins. A cougar, wolf and bear, which all came from my taxidermy business when I was a commercial taxidermist. They were given to me. They were all legally taken and, yes, they were shot.”
The three skins
The bear is a female, about the same size as bears on Cortes Island.
Jason Bradley had Bohart work on two wolves, which he shot when there were a lot of wolves on Cortes. One was an Alpha male, whose pelt was made into a rug. Bradley took it with him when he moved to Saskatchewan.
“He said the eyes followed him around the room,” explained Bohart. “I said, that’s good.”
The wolf in the exhibit was killed in the lavender field around 2008.
“The cougar came from Vancouver Island and was shot by a cougar hunter who simply wanted the meat. He gave me the pelt. We’re talking like, in the 1990s,” said Bohart.
Newman added that this seemed like a good opportunity to create an exhibit that combines old stories drawn from the archives and more recent experiences of “how we can co-exist and keep these animals wild.”
A documentary film will be played when people come into the space.
Newman explained that the first people to view this exhibit on April 22nd will be from the Cortes school.
“The students will go over that afternoon and if anyone from the general public wants to see it that day, they’d be very welcome to come probably after the students have left.” she said.
“There will be no refreshments that day, so we are calling it a soft opening. Later, when we feel like we can be a little bit more celebratory and invite people to the space – that will probably happen in late June or early July.”
Links of Interest:
- (CIMAS) Wild Cortes
- (CIMAS) Cortes Island Museum and Archives website
- (Cortes Currents) How public attitudes towards nature changed
- (Cortes Currents) articles about Bears
- (Cortes Currents) the Whaletown Bear
- (Cortes Currents) the Squirrel Cove Bear
- (Cortes Currents) articles about Cougars
- (Cortes Currents) articles about Wolves
Top photo credit: Cougars by Claire Gribbin via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)