Archive for category Trophy Hunting

Trophy Hunting – Having Your Say

Despite the pouring rain and high winds, more than 200 people turned up in person  for the “Save B.C. Bears” rally on February 15, 2014 at the Legislature Buildings in Victoria, British Columbia. Supporters of all ages, carrying signs and placards, came to protest against the unsustainable, unethical and immoral trophy hunt in British Columbia. Speakers at the event included  nationally celebrated poetry “power couple” Lorna Crozier and Patrick Lane, MLA Andrew Weaver, eco-tourism operator Eric Boyum, bear guide Neil Shearer, and the legendary environmentalist Vicky Husband.

The aim of the event was to tell B.C.’s elected representatives that the trophy hunting of B.C.’s grizzly bears and black bears must stop, and that grizzly hunting in the Cariboo and Kootenays must not be re-opened this spring.
A recent report published in January 2014 by the Center for Responsible Tourism (CREST) in collaboration with Stanford University highlighted the eco-tourism dollars to be gained in British Columbia from the thousands of tourists who come to view rather than kill wildlife, taking home photographs rather than dead animal parts for display. CREST’s report Economic Impact of Bear Viewing and Bear Hunting in the Great Bear Rainforest of British Columbia, finds that bear viewing generates “12 times more in visitor spending than bear hunting and over 11 times in direct revenue for B.C.’s provincial government.” Furthermore, on a purely employment-related note, bear viewing companies directly employed an estimated 510 persons, compared with the 11 persons employed by guide hunting outfitters in 2012.
Tourists from all over the world flock to our province of Beautiful British Columbia. Take the B.C. ferry between Port Hardy and Prince Rupert during the spring and summer months and you will meet an array of visitors from Europe (many from Germany), Australia, Asia and North America who are excited to be experiencing Canada’s great outdoors, whether they’re here to surf, kayak, or capture wildlife on their cameras. Some lucky ones have arranged to go on a famed spirit bear and grizzly bear guided tour on the central and north coast, an experience of a lifetime! Without a doubt tourism in our province is only on the rise, and bear-viewing is a definite factor in this.

It’s from the grassroots level that we can make our voices heard and continue to keep this topic in the forefront of the media. On the day of the rally we collected 205 signed letters from rally participants. However, it was through the power of social media that those who could not attend added their voice. Through a SayZu Communications/Social Media experiment, people could text and tweet their opinions LIVE. The ripple effect was tremendous! In ONE HOUR,  450 people sent out 1,200 tweets and texts representing a total unique reach of 412,197 twitter feeds. The  hashtag #notrophyhunting even made the Canada twitter trends map!

You can keep the momentum going!

  • Write letters to elected officials and your local and national newspapers. Addresses can be found here. For more background information on the hunt visit Pacific Wild’s Trophy Hunt Action page.
  • Educate those around you by hosting a film screening of Bear Witness, a film by B.C. Coastal First Nations
  • Sign the PETITION
  • Utilize social media #notrophyhunt @ChristyClarkBC.

An Insights West poll from November 2013 finds 9/10 British Columbians are against trophy hunting.  ARE YOU?

Keep us posted on facebook and twitter @pacificwild

Many thanks!

Colette

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Coastal First Nations Ban Trophy Hunting

Just yesterday, Coastal First Nations issued a press release banning trophy hunting in their traditional territories. Check out the full press release below.

To take action and support a ban on trophy hunting, visit : http://pacificwild.org/site/take_action/trophy-hunt-campaign.html

(Klemtu, BC, September 12, 2012) First Nations on BC’s North and Central Coast have declared a ban on the trophy bear hunt in their traditional territories. “We will protect bears from cruel and unsustainable trophy hunts by any and all means,” said Kitasoo/Xaixais First Nation Chief Doug Neasloss.

The trophy bear hunt is an issue that has been brewing in First Nations communities for several years, said Neasloss. “Despite years of effort by the Coastal First Nations to find a resolution to this issue with the Province this senseless and brutal trophy hunt continues.”

It’s not unreasonable to expect that in the Great Bear Rainforest all bears would flourish, he said. “Unfortunately, trophy hunting continues to be permitted in the majority of Great Bear Rainforest, including its protected areas and conservancies.”

Jessie Housty, a councillor with the Heiltsuk Nation, said bears are often gunned down by trophy hunters near shorelines as they forage for food. “It’s not a part of our culture to kill an animal for sport and hang them on a wall. When we go hunting it’s for sustenance purposes not trophy hunting. ”

Only a total ban on trophy hunting will ensure that bear populations can support the tourism opportunities that add valuable income to our communities, said Housty. “Trophy hunting is a threat to the lucrative ecotourism industry that we are creating. Tourists often come back year after year to watch the same bears and their young grow.”

Because the Province is negligent in their responsibility to monitor the trophy hunt the Coastal First Nations will now assume responsibility for bear management on the Coast, Neasloss said. “We will now assume the authority to monitor and enforce a closure of this senseless trophy hunt.”

The Coastal First Nations are an alliance of First Nations that includes the Wuikinuxv Nation, Heiltsuk, Kitasoo/Xaixais, Nuxalk, Gitga’at, Haisla, Metlakatla, Old Massett, Skidegate, and Council of the Haida Nation working together to create a sustainable economy on British Columbia’s North and Central Coast and Haida Gwaii.

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A Park for Killing

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This past long weekend I traveled by speedboat up Burke Inlet to the Kwatna River–The Kwatna watershed is a powerhouse in the world of grizzly bear strongholds with its vast sedge-filled estuary and Sitka spruce floodplain forest surrounded by snow-capped granite mountains.

The lower portion of the valley was recently celebrated as one of the newly protected conservancies in the Great Bear Rainforest.  By all accounts it should be the perfect place to view wildlife in a wild setting.

Upon entering the inlet I am met out in the bay by Jason Moody, one of the Nuxalk Bear Patrol Watchmen from Bella Coola.  Son of the late Nuxalk Chief Qwatsinas, Jason is one of a core group of First Nations who are involved in stewardship and monitoring throughout the Great Bear Rainforest.  Jason informs me that two groups of trophy hunters have just been dropped off and as I scan the estuary I can see the fully camouflaged hunters working their way up the river.

Jason’s presence here uncovers what appears to be the illegal transportation of one of the groups of hunters.   It is illegal under the Wildlife Act for resident hunters to pay for transportation from someone without a valid transporting license.   This law ensures that only licensed guide outfitters, or those with a valid transport license, can legally move hunters in BC.

The hunters upriver have just come from the mainland community of Bella Coola and while the remote town has made progress in recent years transitioning from a resource liquidation economy to one that values natural capital I am reminded that it still suffers from the reputation of being the bear killing capital of B.C.

Some things have changed though.  A newly constructed bear viewing platform just upriver of Bella Coola, overlooking the Atnarko river, is offering people a close-up viewing experience of coastal grizzlies as they feed for salmon.  Each year more and more businesses and guides are developing wildlife viewing businesses that contributes millions of dollars to the local economy, and it is estimated to triple in value in the coming years.

Saying goodbye to Jason, I travel with the rising tide up the estuary.   The joy of being in a river system like this in the peak of spring has been replaced by the painful anticipation of rifle shots and dead wildlife.  Scanning the estuary I find two white faces peering out of the dark edge of the rainforest.  They are in a blind with a commanding view of the bears’ favourite sedge meadows.  I can see the stainless barrels and hi-powered scopes poking through the spruce and cedar boughs.    What should be a simple call to the local Conservation Officer Service in Williams Lake reporting poachers in a park turns to frustration.   Because here, in the middle of the Great Bear Rainforest, in a fully legislated Conservancy area (that is meant to be managed as a Class A Provincial park), it is perfectly legal to hunt wolves, bears and other carnivores.

A bear emerges from the estuary between my boat and the hidden hunters.  I am in a good location anchored in the middle of the estuary and I can access almost all parts of it with my flat-bottomed boat.   A mom and her large three-year old cub with heads down, appear to begin grazing on sedge further down from me.   I can see the hunters nervously glancing from me to the bears and I wonder if they would risk a shot with me so close.   Another lone female appears briefly.  It is not illegal to kill a female grizzly bear and although frowned upon by government, it is estimated that over 30% of bears killed on the coast are female.   Another estimate that gets thrown about and should be of concern to anyone traveling in parks where trophy hunting is allowed, is that 20% of bears shot at and hit are never recovered.  This dramatically increases human safety concerns as there is a good chance that a bear in a park may be wounded.

I consider chasing the bears off but I worry that it might put them closer to the rifles instead of further apart.   Daylight slowly fades and I stay anchored in the middle of the estuary for the night.

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First light has two wolves coming from up-river; each one takes a bank of a side channel, hoping for a Sitka black-tailed deer or a sleepy Canada goose.   The human hunters are back in their hidden blind.  Perhaps they never left.  They have the advantage of being downwind of the wolves  I start the engine and move up a side channel to push the wolves to the opposite side of the river.   Their reddish coats contrast against the bright luminescent sedge fields.  Again I see nervous glances coming from the forest edge between the wolves and me.   Wolves, such as these are considered a bonus for trophy hunters, a species that can be killed with no special permit or mandatory reporting requirements.  Basically they are classified as vermin to the B.C. government.  Even a goose, duck or deer hunter has to buy a special permit to kill any of those species, but for wolves no special permits are required.  Today, at least these two wolves will see another sun rise.

Herding wolves and bears away from trophy hunters in a park is absurd and I wonder why it should have to happen at all.   What exactly are these so called “protected areas” actually protecting?   Parks, such as this, are places that the majority of British Columbians and countless people abroad, believe offer a certain basic level of protection for wildlife.

We were told a few years back by the Provincial government that the trophy hunt, even in protected areas, is too important economically to rural economies to shut down.  Even though bear viewing as a growth industry generates more revenue and employs more British Columbians – by far – than bear killing.

Nevertheless we rose to the occasion and the local guide-outfitting license here in the Bella Coola area was purchased and the guide outfitter was fairly compensated and the commercial incentive to continue the hunt was ostensibly taken off the table.  The follow up  meeting with the Minister of Environment to explain that the commercial incentive was now  eliminated (at least for part of the coast) and that a new economy based on wildlife viewing could be actively supported.   But the previous Minister of Environment, Barry Penner didn’t blink when he said that the bear hunt will continue, even in parks, because  it is “scientifically managed”.   No mention of jobs, no mention of where this so called peer-reviewed science to support the hunt came from.  No mention of the ethical considerations of killing animals for sport in parks.  No mention of the opposition to this anachronistic practice by the majority of British Columbians including a significant number of subsistence hunters.

Of course government science in B.C. for the most part, includes tallying the trophy hunter comment cards at the end of each season that apparently indicate how many bears are roaming the wilds of our province.    Like the recent dismantling of the Forest Act and other protective measures that once safeguarded our ancient forests, our forests and wildlife are now managed under a “results-based code.” 

The recently protected conservancies in the Great Bear remain “paper parks” while trophy hunters are allowed to kill bears and other wildlife for sport.

The 2012 coastal trophy hunt continues through June and starts up again in September.   We will continue to witness, document and confront along with the Guardian Watchmen, the Coastal Grizzly Patrol and others.    Please make your voice heard so we can see celebrate the day that coastal wildlife are afforded true sanctuary.

Ian McAllister

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