Will the grizzly bear trophy hunt be an election issue?
With the fall grizzly bear trophy hunt underway for the year and the provincial election on the horizon, putting an end to the hunt is top of mind for many in B.C. Coastal First Nations (an alliance of nine First Nations along the central and north B.C. coast and Haida Gwaii), NGOs, those in the bear-viewing guide industry, and citizens have been fighting the hunt for years, although the Liberal government has shown no movement from its entrenched position in support of trophy hunting.
Delivering a clear message that trophy hunting is not welcome in the Great Bear Rainforest, First Nations have posted signs at transit points, including in the Vancouver Airport South Terminal and the Bella Bella and Bella Coola airports, reading "Trophy Hunting is Closed in the Great Bear Rainforest. Respect our Traditional Laws.” Pacific Wild has also placed transit ads around Vancouver.
In addition to making their stance on the hunt well known, the Coastal First Nations have been working to develop opportunities to protect the land and wildlife in their traditional territories. One of these opportunities includes promoting bear viewing as a sustainable way to support conservation efforts and appreciate the bears in their habitat. With bear viewing generating more spending than hunting and employing more people, contributing to the local economy, the answer seems clear.
With the election approaching the question now lies in which way the government will act.The provincial government has agreed to end the trophy hunt in the Great Bear, yet continues to issue tags to hunt here, and leaves the acquiring of guide outfitter licences to NGOs and community groups. Local businesses such as LUSH Cosmetics North America have also joined the movement to stop the hunt, reaching out to their customers and producing a hard hitting documentary on trophy hunting in B.C.
The NDP and Liberals have been circling around the trophy hunt, while an estimated 90% of British Columbians, both rural and urban, continue to oppose it. It is incredible that despite this majority support to end the trophy hunt in B.C., the government continues to support it.
Thanks to groups like Justice for Grizzlies, voters will be better informed in this upcoming election on promises made to end the trophy hunt and to protect some of Canada's most iconic animals. The question remains whether the popular vote will be enough to hold our B.C. government to their word and see action to protect B.C.’s grizzly bears.
Written by Hayley Bennett