Grizzly bear trophy hunters have contributed money to help B.C. Liberals win the election this year, says a B.C. NDP representative.
George Heyman cited a report by the public interest organization Dogwood about a $60,000 kitty put together by U.S. and Canadian chapters of Safari Club International.
The New Democrat MLA for Vancouver-Fairview said that Dogwood’s information came from a Facebook post showing a cheque made out by the hunters to the Guide Outfitters Association of B.C. (GOABC)
According to Heyman, the fund is supposedly meant to assist the guide outfitters association “reelect the Liberal government in B.C., so the trophy hunt continues”.
“Clearly [B.C. Liberal Premier] Christy Clark is happy to have outside organization spends tens of thousands of dollars to help her get reelected, and ignore the desires of the majority of British Columbians to end the trophy hunt of grizzly bears,” Heyman told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview Wednesday (March 22).
In November last year, the B.C. NDP promised that it will end the sport killing of grizzly bears if the party wins the May 9, 2017 provincial election.
“We’ve pledged very clearly that when were elected, we will ban the trophy hunt, and that we’ll work with First Nations such as in the Great Bear Rainforest,” Heyman said.
The Straight called GOABC and requested comment from executive director Scott Ellis. He has yet to return a call as of this posting.
A 2016 report by the GOABC titled ‘Grizzly Bear Management in British Columbia’ stated that hunters harvest less than two percent of the grizzly population in B.C.
“This best available science indicates this harvest is sustainable,” the report noted. “The grizzly bear hunt poses no conservation threat to populations, especially considering that it is heavily biased towards mature males. An overabundance of older male bears can be a limiting factor for bear populations, as older males are known to prey on juvenile bears, and cubs.”
“It is important to note that it is illegal in British Columbia to harvest any bear under the age of 2 years old, or any bear in the presence of a bear under this age,” the report continued.
On March 7 this year, the Grizzly Bear Foundation released a report that noted that grizzly bears are threatened by loss of habitat as well as the trophy hunt approved by the government.
“We believe that the future of the grizzly bears in our province is going to be unavoidably compromised by certain trends that are already taking shape,” the foundation’s report stated. “This includes increased urbanization associated with human population expansion, surging backcountry recreational pursuits, climate change, continuing resource development, and declining wild salmon runs.”
“Grizzlies need large undisturbed spaces in which to roam. It will be ever more difficult to provide those spaces given current trends, the cumulative impacts of which are inestimable even using the best science available at the present time. Under these circumstances, allowing hundreds of grizzly bears to be legally killed every year for sport or trophies is unreasonable in our opinion,” the report noted.
The B.C. government estimates that there 15,000 grizzly bears in the province.
According to the government, around 340 grizzly bears are killed each year due to human causes. Out of this number, 297 are legally killed by hunters.
Going back to the trophy hunt that the B.C. NDP has pledged to stop, Heyman noted that there are “some very powerful interests that want it to continue”.
“From our perspective, we understand that majority of British Columbians simply don’t want this to continue,” Heyman said. “And we also know that there is a very healthy grizzly bear viewing economy in British Columbia, and the killing of grizzly bears is incompatible with the viewing of grizzly bears.”
According to a posting on Dogwood's website by the group's communication director Kai Nagata, it is unclear whether the $60,000 will be donated directly to the B.C. Liberals or fund activities against the B.C. NDP.