BC's Grizzly Bear Trophy Hunt: A Bloody 'Necessary' Tradition?
BC's Grizzly Bear trophy hunt season begins today for yet another year, and despite calls to save the bears or pay attention to the dwindling numbers, the government has once again said that they will allow the hunt to go ahead and do a count after the hunt.
Yes, that's helpful, after the hunt, good idea.
For those who may not know, the BC Grizzly Bear trophy hunt happens every year in certain parts of the province, and it coincides with the bears feeding from the salmon run that starts in September on the banks of the rivers. That means that when the bears come down to feed, hunters are allowed to come along and shoot them, for no other reason than to have that bear, or even just a part of that bear as a trophy in their house.
Trophy hunting is selective hunting; many question the morality surrounding the fact that the animals are killed not for food but merely for their head, hands or skin, and often the rest of the carcass is discarded. It can be used for food however, but this is not always the case.
Many have protested the trophy hunt in BC, even Jane Goodall lent her voice to the cause earlier this year and said she was very 'distressed and shocked' that the bear hunt is still allowed to continue in BC and she released a video with the conservation group Pacific Wild.
For Goodall, all hunting is trophy hunting.
Restrictions were placed on the area in which bears are allowed to be hunted, closing the area to 1.9 million hectares on the central and north coast of the province, but an Ipsos Reid poll earlier this year stated that 78% of British Columbians are opposed to the hunt, but the government is not listening.
Many don't have an issue with the idea of hunting; in some species it can even be necessary to hunt animals for population control, but it is the idea of trophy hunting that people don't like. Shooting an animal for sport should not be allowed in my opinion.
Grizzly bears are actually protected from hunting in the United States, but in Canada, a country who is more often associated with the bear, people are allowed to hunt the bears, and often in the Great Bear Rainforest, which is supposed to act as a safe haven for them, an area is set aside where hunting is allowed.
Black Bears are also at risk, and in turn the Kermode Bear, which although are protected from hunting, need the recessive black bear gene to survive.
The tourism that bears bring to BC should be worth more than the amount the government makes in trophy hunting licenses every year. Thousands flock to the Great Bear Rainforest to see the bears in their natural habitat, and for a species that does not have young cubs every year, it seems to be more important than ever to preserve their species and not kill the biggest most impressive specimens to place on a wall or a floor somewhere.
Bears are also suffering this year from the lack of salmon in the rivers and some experts are suggesting that low salmon stocks could hurt an already hurting population, and the trophy hunt will just dwindle numbers further.
However, Tom Ethier, BC's Environment Ministry director of fish and wildlife, says "We know there is a strong berry crop along the coast, this year, and it's still a bit early to be coming to these kinds of conclusions that the bear populations are in great trouble along the coast".
Also, Dr. Sterling Miller, senior biologist with the US National Wildlife Federation, backs up Ethier's claim and says any effects on the bears would take years to see results.
Groups against the hunt however, have said that places where the bears normally congregate along the river are empty this year and things are much quieter than they have seen in previous years.
Ethier and his organization plan to do a count of the bears after the hunt, which critics say is a complete waste of time and that it needs to occur before.
The area that is open to hunting this year contains about 30% of the Grizzly habitat, and while there are hunting regulations put in place, such as no shooting females with cubs, I still fail to see why this tradition is allowed to continue.
This bear hunting is devastating the bear tourism industry, that puts money back in to preserving the bears, and while their population is not endangered, some of their habitat is, and I believe we need to work hard to preserve that.
As I stated before, hunting, while I would never do it, I am not completely opposed to, but killing something just for the sheer sport of it I think is wrong. It's bloody, tragic, and wrong. Many don't share my view and that's ok, but I hope that the trophy hunting ends soon. Bears that are shot don't die from a single bullet wound, it takes a few shots to bring a bear down and they die in agony and for what? Nothing.