Peter Wood: Time to kill the grizzly hunt in B.C.

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      On October 1, the fall grizzly bear hunt opened in the remaining areas of B.C. where these bears haven’t been wiped out yet. Although B.C. lists the grizzly as a species at risk, B.C. is one of the few jurisdictions in Canada with no stand-alone species-at-risk legislation. On average, about 300 bears are killed for sport in B.C. every year. Grizzlies have been eliminated from over half of their historic range in North America, due to a combination of habitat loss, hunting, and other human conflict.

      There is great uncertainty surrounding how many grizzlies are left, how hunting affects their populations over time, or how their removal affects the remaining ecosystem. New and compelling scientific evidence calls into question the “harvestable surplus” rationale behind this hunt, revealing that in half of all hunted populations, human-caused grizzly deaths exceeded rates that government biologists consider sustainable. Scientists also found that managers failed to properly account for uncertainty in population estimates and poaching rates in setting the allowable kill limits.

      Killing grizzlies also kills jobs. A recent study out of Stanford University found that bear viewing in the Great Bear Rainforest generates far more value for the economy than trophy hunting: 27 times more employment, 12 times more visitor spending, and 11 times more government revenue. Any bear tourism operator can tell you that bear hunting and bear viewing don’t mix. Bears avoid areas where they get shot at, and at the risk of stating the obvious, bears that are killed are unavailable for viewing. Since these activities are mutually exclusive, to decide to allow the hunt to continue is to decide to have fewer jobs and subsidize an unsustainable activity.

      Just south of the border, the U.S. is going in a decidedly different direction. The National Park Service is considering ambitious plans to recover grizzlies in Washington’s North Cascades. There is a growing awareness of the massive ecological and economic benefits of maintaining healthy bear populations, and organizations like People and Carnivores have pioneered exciting new work that is proving that bears and humans can co-exist within the same landscape. Here in B.C., Coastal First Nations have asserted a ban on trophy hunting for bears within their territories, and have linked with academics and NGOs to initiate an exciting new stream of bear research. The Coast to Cascades Grizzly Bear Recovery Initiative bridges efforts in northwest U.S. and southwest B.C. to bring these bears back from the brink. Overall, the outdated mentality of demonizing grizzly bears is giving way to reverence for the animal as a symbol of wilderness and a source of local pride.

      The tide could be turning here in B.C. A poll conducted last year showed that 87 percent of British Columbians oppose the grizzly trophy hunt. Even the majority of hunters don’t support grizzly hunting. It’s considered a fringe activity that has nothing to do with obtaining food. The evidence is undeniable and mounting. Given all that has come to light, it is time for the B.C. government to do the right thing and cancel the grizzly trophy hunt.

      Comments

      25 Comments

      Dave

      Oct 2, 2014 at 7:18pm

      When we stop hunting them, they will start hunting us...

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      Human Rights

      Oct 3, 2014 at 7:36am

      Hunting is a human right. People who oppose hunting oppose the coordinated behavior that led us to evolve into what we are.

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      Alison Watt

      Oct 3, 2014 at 7:52am

      do you know that Grizzlies are more rare globally than African Lions? What would people say if we opened a lion hunt each fall in BC?

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      population

      Oct 3, 2014 at 8:32am

      if their population is high, hunt them

      if it is low, dont hunt them

      its that simple

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      Ryan

      Oct 3, 2014 at 8:50am

      These articals always state numbers and stats but never Any way to confirm the numbers or where they came from. 87% of people don't support grizzly hunting? Where are these people from? Are they a fair spread of people or just 10 people from your organization? We have shrunk the grizzly habitat by expanding our city's and now we are ruining more by doing these grizzly viewing tours.

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      Jack Jones - Calgary AB

      Oct 3, 2014 at 8:50am

      IF you want to educate yourself and your Society on the merits of Closing the GB Hunt, you should do some research on what evolved in Romania when the hunt was closed by the Government in the 1950's. The population increased by four fold in 40 years and there are now 8500 Brown Bears, 23 million people living in "TERROR" in an land area the size of Vancouver island. They can watch bears from any porch in the country! Dead livestock, mauled people, ravaged apple and honey crops and 600lb dumpster divers in over 100 cities. They kill 300 bears a year there and have a bear viewing industry also but neither are considered viable when it comes to just controlling the chaos.

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      Vincent

      Oct 3, 2014 at 8:55am

      Dare I question the "science" of environmental activists?? Having actually lived in grizzly country most of my life, my observations would lead me to believe the real scientists who do the studies for our province.

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      Jefferson Bray

      Oct 3, 2014 at 8:57am

      Col. Russell Williams kept 'trophies' too - lingerie, videos and photos of his "conquests". His choice of animal (female homo sapiens) was different, but the behaviour is EXACTLY the same. The fact that this BC Liberal Government supports, promotes and perpetuates this legalized sociopathy is a frightening reflection of their collective psyche.

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      Cas

      Oct 3, 2014 at 9:04am

      Learning bear behavior is very important and it is the difference between killing them from fear or learning to live with them. Basic rule don't push a bear and don't let it push you. Too many people send wrong messages to bears.

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      chris

      Oct 3, 2014 at 9:06am

      What happens when their population has increased to the point that deer elk and other ungulates are almost extinct? Wolves, like grizzlies were in the same category but now they them selves are threatening species in Yellowstone. In fact you can hunt them without a tag now in BC since their numbers are too high and are devastating livestock. Of course we never hear about it today but when they were gone from BC all we heard was how hunters hunted them into extinction.

      It's not time to end the bear hunt, it's time to conserve and manage them and the only way to manage their numbers is with limited entry draws. Now poaching on the other hand is already illegal. How does the author propose we deal with them?

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