B.C. coalition seeks ban on trophy hunting of bears
A coalition of environmental and First Nations groups in B.C. is urging the provincial government to end trophy hunting of bears in the Great Bear Rainforest, which stretches from just north of Vancouver to the Alaska border.
At a news conference Tuesday, the coalition called on the Liberals to stop trophy hunting before the opening of the spring bear hunt on April 1.
"It is time for the provincial government to heed public opinion, the best available science and economics by giving these magnificent animals the protection they need to survive," said Bruce Passmore, director of outreach for Humane Society International/Canada.
Trophy hunters gunned down 370 grizzly bears in 2007, the coalition said. That figure, added to the number of bears poached for their valuable gall bladders, means the bear hunt is not sustainable, the coalition said.
The coalition launched a public awareness campaign on Tuesday with full-page newspaper ads. It will take its message across Canada and to the U.S. and Europe.
'We've spent years to ensure our lands are protected, only to learn that trophy hunters can continue to come on our lands and kill bears for sport.'— Kitasoo-Xaixais Chief Percy Starr
"The white spirit bear may be protected from trophy hunting in the Great Bear Rainforest; however, the black bear, which carries the recessive gene necessary for the genetic diversity of white bears, can still be killed," said Ian McAllister, director of Pacific Wild.
The Great Bear Rainforest stretches more than 400 kilometres along the coast of British Columbia, including the islands offshore.
Three years ago, the province agreed to protect the region, instituting new rules for logging and focusing on conservation.
The region is home to grizzly, brown and black bears, as well as the Kermode, or "spirit bear," a genetically unique subspecies of black bear with white fur.
Hunting benefits overlooked
Countering the coalition, the Guide Outfitters Association of British Columbia, which promotes wise conservation and use of all natural resources, said the benefits of bear hunting are often overlooked.
Hunters provide the majority of funding for conservation, so one of the best ways to maintain a healthy grizzly population is to allow hunting, a spokesperson said. Also, the hunting industry brings in about $350 million to the province annually.
Kitasoo-Xaixais Chief Percy Starr said he is disappointed that all species of bears in their traditional territory are not protected.
"We've spent years to ensure our lands are protected, only to learn that trophy hunters can continue to come on our lands and kill bears for sport," Starr said in a news release
Environment Minister Barry Penner said the provincial government has taken steps to ensure there is a sustainable population of bears.
"The good news is that the grizzly bear population is either stable or growing in population," he said, adding that the province is not considering a ban on bear hunting.
With files from the Canadian Press