Watching grizzly bears catch and eat salmon as they swim upstream to spawn is an unforgettable experience. Many people love to view the wild drama. Some record it with photos or video. But a few want to kill the iconic animals — not to eat, just to put their heads on a wall or coats on a floor.
Foreign hunters bag BC bears
The spring grizzly kill starts April 1 and extends for several weeks, followed by a second fall season. By year’s end, several hundred will have died at the hands of humans, close to 90 per cent shot by trophy hunters — many of them foreign licence-holders, as the B.C. government plans to enact new regulations to allow hunters from outside B.C. to take 40 per cent of grizzlies slated for killing. The government also plans to allow foreign interests and corporations to buy and run guide-outfitting territories previously run only by B.C. residents. Local hunting organizations say the new rules put them at a disadvantage.
Government takes money from hunting lobby
According to the Vancouver Observer, hunting guide associations donated $84,800 to B.C. political parties from 2005 to 2013, 84 per cent to the B.C. Liberals.
In the controversy over regulatory changes, we’ve lost touch with the fact that the grizzly trophy hunt is horrific, regardless of whether bears are killed by resident hunters or big-game hunters who pay thousands of dollars for the chance to kill a bear here — often because it’s illegal in their home countries.
BC’s population in doubt
Grizzlies once roamed much of North America, from Mexico to the Yukon and from the West Coast through the prairies. Habitat loss and overhunting have since shrunk their range by more than half. In Canada, 16 subgroups are on the brink of extinction, including nine in south-central B.C. and Alberta’s entire grizzly population.
Just how many bears reside in B.C. is in dispute. The government claims more than 15,000 grizzlies live here, but Raincoast Conservation Foundation science director Chris Darimont, a University of Victoria conservation biologist, puts the number closer to the government’s earlier estimate of 6,600 — before it doubled that in 1990 based on a single study in southeastern B.C.’s Flathead area.
Government scientist’s work suppressed
According to a Maclean’s article, in 2000, the government “suppressed the work of one of its own biologists, Dionys de Leeuw, for suggesting the hunt was excessive and could be pushing the bears to extinction. De Leeuw was later suspended without pay for having pursued the line of inquiry.” The government then pursued a five-year legal battle with groups including Raincoast Conservation and Ecojustice to keep its grizzly kill data sealed.
Allan Thornton, president of the British Environmental Investigation Agency, which has studied B.C. grizzly management since the late 1990s, is blunt about the government’s justification. “The British Columbia wildlife department does not use rigorous science,” he told the Vancouver Observer. In 2004, the European Union banned imports of all B.C. grizzly parts into member countries after its analysis found the hunt to be unsustainable.
Business case questioned
Even the economic case is shaky. Studies by the Centre for Responsible Travel and Raincoast Conservation conclude revenue from bear-viewing is far higher than revenue from grizzly hunting.
Grizzlies play important ecological role
Grizzly population health is an indicator of overall ecosystem health, and bears are important to functioning ecosystems. They help regulate prey such as deer and elk, maintain forest health by dispersing seeds and aerating soil as they dig for food, and fertilize coastal forests by dragging salmon carcasses into the woods. Hunting isn’t the only threat. Habitat loss, decreasing salmon runs, collisions with vehicles and other conflicts with humans also endanger grizzlies. Because they have low reproduction rates, they’re highly susceptible to population decline. Hunting is one threat we can easily control.
First Nations, citizens oppose hunt
According to polls, almost 90 per cent of B.C. residents oppose hunting grizzlies for trophies, including many Frist Nations and food hunters. Scientists say it’s unsustainable. The Coastal First Nations coalition has banned grizzly hunting in its territories, but the government doesn’t recognize the ban. The Raincoast Conservation Foundation has bought hunting licences in an attempt to reduce bear kills on the coast.
Simply put, most British Columbians — and Canadians — are against the grizzly trophy hunt. It’s time for the government to listen to the majority rather than industry donors and ban this barbaric and unsustainable practice.
Written with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Senior Editor Ian Hanington.
19 thoughts on “Suzuki: Time to end grisly trophy hunt”
Just a note David….you are the biggest “taker” and talker for pay …..climate change and chemtrails…what a joke you are ….it’s true that those that grab the public’s ear don’t know when to let go and are willing to lie through their teeth for the right price…..you are a scientific sellout….and your “Nature” is to pontificate with or without the truth.
Yo Don F.
You’re still wrong!
Helicopter hunting for bears is STILL illegal.
Heicopter hunting for wolves by Lands and Forest officials prserving rare caribou isnt.
I was at the antique show at the Coquitlam casino today and they had a 9ft tall Polar Bear there. Stuffed and mounted. It sold for $50,000.00.
Rich doesnt equal smart……
Dozens of people were crowding around it to have their pictures taken……..
Seems some people just love those trophies for showing off.
consider what you just said as my rebuttal.
Glad I could help 🙂
How can anyone think that killing a living creature for fun is not sick? Anyone applying to kill an animal for any reason other than food should be taken in for a very thorough psychiatric evaluation. Killing should not be fun, to a healthy brain
Of course Dr. Suzuki is bang on. Hunting for food one is not only going to eat , but needs is one thing, hunting for heads, rugs, antlers, killing and even the thrill of the hunt is obscene. Just as cockfights and bear baiting went, just as bull fighting is going, killing wild animals other than out of true necessity, will go too – and people will be amazed it lasted so long!
Sometimes I’m just embarrassed to be a part of the human species. We invented guns so we have to use them on these defenceless creatures? What tiny mindset do you need to think this is acceptable? What pathetic existence do you think this will enhance for you? Are we moving forward as a civilization or because of the stupidity of some doomed!
While I despise trophy hunting. To say Grizzlys are “defenseless creatures” is a tad “over the top”.
Grizzlys, beautiful to see in the wild. Just at a safe distance.
The fact that they are being chased by helicopter by men with high powered rifles with amazing scope capabilities and are sitting ducks I would say makes them I dunno “Defenceless”!
“Chasing bears by helicopter””
Sorry I find that very hard to believe.
I hunting by helicopter was illegal in Canada.
Any pilot caught doing that would have their helicopter seized and face a massive fine not to mention risk losing their pilot license.
This is a copy of the Wildlife Act of BC updated Feb 2015
The subsection I have copied and pasted provides a response to your ridiculously sensationalist allegations of “hunting by helicopter” for bear in BC.
Use of conveyance
27 (1) A person who discharges a firearm or wounds or kills wildlife from a motor vehicle or from a boat that is propelled by a motor commits an offence.
(2) A person commits an offence if the person
(a) hunts wildlife from an aircraft, or
(b) uses a helicopter for the purposes of transporting hunters or game, or while on a hunting expedition,
except as authorized by regulation.
(3) A person who herds or harasses wildlife with the use of a motor vehicle, aircraft, boat or other mechanical device commits an offence.
(4) A person who hunts game within 6 hours after being airborne in an aircraft, other than a regularly scheduled commercial aircraft, commits an offence.
So either provide a link to your very imaginative “story” or proof which wildlife officers can follow up on with charges.
While I find trophy hunting disgusting,
I challenge you to smear yourself with raw hamburger and honey and go walking in the woods north of Pemberton in mid summer to “discover” how defenseless Grizzly’s are……..
My God man get a life!!
I’ll leave it to intelligent people reading this blog to form an intelligent opinion about my replies.
Your opinion matters squat to me!
Apparently facts get in the way of a good “helicopter hunting” story?
Please provide a link to your sensationalist allegations for us mere mortals that dont believe you………
reread my comments you fool! How the hell do you think they get to these remote locations on a tricycle?
I see you everyday on these blogs, here and Laila’s, always the smart guy, controlling, highjacking. My days of putting up with that are over.
Enjoy the ride idiot.
Why should I reread your comments when I can cut and paste them.
” The fact that they are being chased by helicopter by men with high powered rifles….”
And you demand that I “reread your comments” is somewhat ironic since you still havent responded to my query for a link to you “hunting by helicopter” allegations.
Did you even read the pasted Wildlife Act which specifically mentions the illegality of hunting, hearding and scouting by helicopter?
As for your other verbal diatribe.
I dont consider stating the truth “hijacking and controlling”.
Its YOU thats resorting to namecalling, not me.
Where IS that link about ‘helicopter hunters”.
Can anyone else help Don F. out? He seems a tad frustraed.
I encourage any level headed reader here to instead of taking canadian law verbatim , to do a simple google search of the words “hunting by helicopter in canada’ and see what comes up.
As fo me seeming a tad frustrated you are correct but I choose to be calm as to see how this will work out for you in the long run. Sharing our future mutual blogging experiences together.
‘I choose to be calm as to see how this will work out for you in the long run. Sharing our future mutual blogging experiences together.
Wow, a threat. How mature. Thanks for reminding me of Lailas site I just posted there.
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