Hands Off Our Spirit Bear

By BARBARA YAFFE, Vancouver Sun, 23 FEB 2010 

Trophy hunting says awful things about trophy hunters. I've always thought
it would be so much fairer if the hunted were also equipped with a firearm
so that, at the very least, this useless exercise of killing would be a
fair fight.

On Tuesday, several environmental organizations issued a call for an end to
the trophy hunt for the Spirit Bear, including the Sierra Club in B.C.,
Forest Ethics, the Humane Society, Greenpeace, the Western Canada Wilderness
Committee and the David Suzuki Foundation.

It's believed there are fewer than 400 Spirit Bears -- also known as
Kermodes -- in the world, according to Doug Nealoss, an aboriginal and lead
guide at Sprit Bear Adventures in Klemtu, B.C.

In a press release, Nealoss notes the growing importance of eco-tourism and
appeals to people to "hunt only with cameras, please."

Spirit Bears are believed to be a genetic variation of Black Bears. They're
white, and so iconic and beautiful that Olympic Games organizers included a
facsimile in the opening ceremony last week. Hunters are prohibited from
shooting the white bears; but Black bears carry the Spirit Bear's white fur
gene, so when Black Bears are shot, the propagation of the species is

"We should not be tinkering with nature by allowing black Kermodes to be
shot only to be hung on people's walls," says Wayne McCrory, a Valhalla
Wilderness Society biologist who has studied the bears for 20 years. "This
is an archaic and shallow blood sport."

Surely, it's one thing to hunt for food. Some might even argue in favour of
hunting for fur. But hanging a bear head on a wall?

Yes, there will be cash to be made when the trophy hunt in the Great Bear
Rainforest is reopened by the B.C. government in a few weeks. But the lucre
must be weighed against the morality of wiping out a life so that it's
carcass can be fashioned as a rug or hung on a wood panelled wall.

Are only human lives precious?

All Photography © Ian McAllister unless otherwise noted.
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