Until Nov. 2, the public could provide input into two Fish and Wildlife Branch policy documents outlining the proposed regulation changes required to implement the ban. However, the province has framed the public consultation process in terms of how to manage the meat hunt, not if there should even be a meat hunt. One of Pacific Wild's team members, Krista Roessingh, took a moment to tell the government that B.C. needs a full ban on all grizzly bear hunting to protect this vulnerable species. Read on below for her full letter and personal experiences.
I would like to express my support for a full ban on Grizzly hunting in the Great Bear Rainforest, where I live. I ask that you extend the full ban to the rest of the province along with adopting more stringent regulations around trophy parts.
I have heard many times of trophy hunters that shoot black bears and then feed the meat to the dogs or throw it in a dumpster. I had a personal encounter with a group of trophy hunters trying to shoot a black bear with a film crew for an American trophy hunting show, in full view of my family at a hot spring. The shooter was the daughter of famed grizzly bear trophy hunting guide Leonard Ellis from Bella Coola, who sold his guide/outfitter license to conservationists but then was caught transporting trophy hunters. He was there that day, transporting this trophy hunting film crew on his "bear viewing" charter boat. This relates to the call for a ban on black bear hunting in the Great Bear Rainforest as well, because those black bears killed for "sport" could be carrying the recessive gene that gives rise to Spirit bear cubs. This is another reason why trophy hunting and the growing, successful bear viewing industry are not compatible.
I'm sure that not all guide/outfitters operate so nefariously, yet I believe it is a business that attracts the wrong kind of customers to B.C., and I fear that allowing a meat hunt will lead to more poaching. It will be too difficult to enforce in a province with a severe shortfall of conservation officers.
Ultimately, too many grizzly and black bears populations are impacted by human/bear conflicts, road and train collisions, and other issues related to habitat loss and lack of food (salmon) to the extent that allowing a trophy hunt or meat hunt of grizzlies is likely to be detrimental to populations in the long term. As we all know, the province does not have the population data to back up grizzly hunting, nor is the province doing enough to protect vulnerable populations of grizzlies or their habitat. Besides, no one really needs to kill a grizzly to get meat. This is not an ethically defensible reason to allow the killing of one of the slowest-reproducing, most iconic, and largest land mammals in Canada. It seems we have not learned much since the annihilation of the buffalo, the big whales, the sea otter, and now the mountain caribou, salmon, herring and eulachon. As stewards of B.C.'s wildlife and crown lands, you cannot just go on allowing people to kill, log, road, mine, and pollute everything. You need to take a stand and turn things around before it's really too late. I believe that most British Columbians will be there to support you if you do it right.
Finally, I want to point out again that bear killing is simply not compatible with bear viewing. I can say from my own experience how horrific it was to realize that the beautiful big black bear grazing on intertidal grasses while we watched from across the water with our small child, was the target of a group of fresh camo-clad trophy hunting enthusiasts lining up for a shot down the shore. We need live bears to support bear-viewing, an enterprise where customers often return year after year and get to know individual bears by sight.
Denny Island, BC