Comment: Grizzly bears more useful alive than dead

Grizzly photo Copyright Jim Robertson

Grizzly photo Copyright Jim Robertson

Chris Genovali / Times Colonist
July 17, 2014

One can only conclude that Naomi Yamamoto, provincial minister of tourism and small business, was poorly briefed with regard to the grizzly bear hunt after reading about her recent speech on Saltspring Island.

Having B.C.’s tourism minister put forth the notion that the proliferation of oilsands pipelines and oil tankers, along with the escalation of a host of other industrial-scale resource extraction activities, would somehow be compatible with a robust tourism industry based on the natural beauty of the province is dubious. But for Yamamoto to suggest that bear viewing is compatible with the trophy-killing of bears, and then disproportionately claim that the grizzly hunt is a chief economic driver for the province, is inexplicably out of touch.

Contrary to Yamamoto’s assertions, there is no ecological, ethical or economic justification for continuing to trophy-kill B.C.’s grizzly bears.

The ecological argument is clear — killing bears for “management” purposes is unnecessary and scientifically unsound. Although attempts are made to dress up B.C.’s motivations in the trappings of “sound science,” the province is clearly driven by an anachronistic ideology that is disconcertingly fixated on killing as a legitimate and necessary tool of wildlife management.

Paul Paquet, senior scientist at Raincoast Conservation Foundation, large carnivore expert and co-author of a 2013 published peer-reviewed paper on B.C. bear management, states: “We analyzed only some of the uncertainty associated with grizzly management and found it was likely contributing to widespread overkills. I’m not sure how the government defines sound science, but an approach that carelessly leads to widespread overkills is less than scientifically credible.”

The ethical argument is clear — gratuitous killing for recreation is unacceptable and immoral. Polling shows that nine out of 10 British Columbians agree, from rural residents (including many hunters) to city dwellers.

In their 2009 publication The Ethics of Hunting, Michael Nelson and Kelly Millenbah state that if wildlife managers began “to take philosophy and ethics more seriously, both as a realm of expertise that can be acquired and as a critical dimension of wildlife conservation, many elements of wildlife conservation and management would look different.”

During her Saltspring appearance, Yamamoto attempted to downplay widespread public concern about the grizzly hunt by stating: “it’s not like a bear gets killed every day.”

Given that an average of 300 grizzlies and 3,900 black bears (according to the B.C. Wildlife Federation) are killed for trophies in B.C. annually, the minister’s statement is not only flippant, but callous to the disturbing amount of carnage inflicted on bears in this province every year for the most trivial of reasons — recreational trophy hunting.

The economic argument is clear — recent research by the Centre for Responsible Travel at Stanford University says that bear-viewing supports 10 times more employment, tourist spending and government revenue than trophy hunting in B.C.’s vast Great Bear Rainforest.

Notably, the CREST Stanford study suggests the revenue generated by fees and licences affiliated with the trophy killing of grizzlies fails to cover the cost of the province’s management of the hunt. As a result, B.C. taxpayers, most of whom oppose the hunt according to poll after poll, are in essence being forced to subsidize the trophy killing of grizzlies.

For Yamamoto to suggest that banning the grizzly bear hunt would jeopardize the province’s ability to “generate the extra revenue to pay for health care, education and all those things that people are demanding” is astoundingly off-base.

The 2014 CREST Stanford study reaffirms what Coastal First Nations, the eco-tourism industry and conservation groups like Raincoast have been pointing out for years — keeping grizzly bears alive generates significantly greater economic benefits than killing them via trophy hunting.

In 2003, Raincoast and the Centre for Integral Economics released the report Crossroads: Economics, Policy, and the Future of Grizzly Bears in British Columbia, which compared revenues generated by grizzly viewing versus grizzly hunting.

Even more than a decade ago, when the bear-viewing sector of the ecotourism industry was in its nascent stage, viewing grizzlies was bringing in about twice the annual revenue as grizzly hunting.

Our analysis showed that in the long term, it makes more economic sense to shoot grizzly bears with cameras than to shoot them with guns. Over the course of a grizzly’s life, the bear can be viewed and photographed hundreds of times, generating tremendous economic wealth for B.C.

However, a grizzly bear can only be shot and killed once.

Chris Genovali is executive director of the Raincoast Conservation Foundation.

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Stop the Massacre of Grizzly Bears in British Columbia, Canada. Stop the Grizzly Bear Hunt

Photo Copyright Jim Robertson

Photo Copyright Jim Robertson

People come to BC to hunt the grizzly bears on the estuaries where they are feeding, this is not sport. They shoot the eating bears from boats, take a paw or two and the head and leave the rest to rot on the estuary. Grizzly bears are already threatened in BC. The First nations People are against this hunt, the majority of the people in the province are against this hunt but the BC Liberal Government headed by Christie Clarke refuses to deal with the issue. The Guide and Outfitters Association of BC, the B.C. Wildlife Federation, Ducks Unlimited and the Canadian Wildlife Federation are in fact powerful pro-hunting political lobby groups. The government of BC & Ms Clark is afraid to stand up to them because the Liberal Party will lose much needed cash in the form of political donations from these organizations. The solution is to get as many names as possible and contact the Premier of the Province of BC and demand that she stop the Grizzly Bear Hunt.

Sign the Petition:

FWP investigates killing of 3 young grizzly bears

FERNDALE- Wardens are looking for information that could help them track down whoever killed three young grizzlies in the north end of the Swan Valley.

Agents with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said the bears were killed in the Ferndale area.

Because the investigation is ongoing, authorities aren’t giving out more details about exactly where the bears were found or how they were killed.

FWP and USFWS are hoping to hear from anyone that may help them track down the poachers. Anyone with information can contact 1-800-TIP-MONT begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 1-800-TIP-MONT FREE  end_of_the_skype_highlighting . Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward.

photo copyright Jim Robertson

photo copyright Jim Robertson

Hunter attacked by grizzly in stable condition

Authorities say a Stevensville man attacked by a grizzly bear is in stable but serious condition.

The man, whose name has not been released, remains hospitalized in Seattle with non-life-threatening injuries, said Andrea Jones, information and education manager with the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks in Bozeman.

The 47-year-old man was hunting in the CentennialValley with his father on Sunday when he was mauled by a 10-year-old male grizzly. A crew of wildlife officials found the bear dead of a gunshot wound.

The hunter’s father reported hearing a gunshot just before finding his son with serious injuries. An investigation into the incident remains active.

On Monday, a team of officials, including a bear specialist, game wardens and people with the Forest Service to the remote area where the attack occurred. The Stevensville man and his father were hunting black bear in the Fish Creek Lake area in extreme southwestern Montana when the attack happened. Jones said the mauling happened five miles from their campsite in rugged terrain.

Once stabilized, the man was eventually flown to Seattle.



May 10

Adult male grizzly was shot May 7 near the Cave Falls Road-
Idaho spring black bear season began April 15, and the first Greater Yellowstone grizzly death of the season has been logged.

An eleven-year old male griz was shot by someone (so far unidentified) just off the Cave Falls Road near the southwest
corner of Yellowstone Park. In a news release, Idaho Fish and Game said they were investigating and promised any information gathered would be released.

The location of the illegal killing is generally flat with meadows where bears come to dig early season roots, bulbs, and rodents.
It is often hard to distinguish grizzlies from black bears, especially early in the year when they are thin from hibernation. Critics wonder why an area so rich with grizzlies is open to spring black bear hunting.

In recent years, U.S. Forest Service road closures after the completion of timber harvest has made the general area safer for grizzlies. The Cave Falls road (gravel) runs close to the southwest corner of the Park, dead-ending inside the Park at Cave Falls.

The death of a male grizzly is generally not regarded as serious
as that of a fertile female, especially one with cubs.

Photo Copyright Jim Robertson

Photo Copyright Jim Robertson

Please Don’t Feed the Trolls

If there’s one thing trolls can’t stand, it’s being ignored. Every few days someone trolls this anti-hunting site and tries to infest it with their pro-killing comments.

But the old adage that there are two sides to every coin doesn’t carry any weight here. Oh sure, a killer has the right to rationalize murder all he wants, but it doesn’t mean anyone has to listen to him.

Today’s troll wanted to argue the alleged merits of the shooting (or, in their words, “bagging”) of the “world record” grizzly bear. I’m sorry, but nothing anyone can say can justify that crime; commenting here to argue otherwise is just a waste of everyone’s time.

As I’ve said many times before, pro-hunters should read the About page so they won’t get frustrated when their comments go unheard. The fact is, sport hunting disgusts us and nothing any troll could ever come up with could change that.


Alaska hunter bags world record grizzly bear

May 06, 2014

Larry Fitzgerald and some pals were moose hunting near Fairbanks, Alaska, when they came across fresh bear tracks in the snow. Three hours later, the auto body man had taken down the grizzly that left the prints, an enormous bruin that stood nearly 9 feet tall and earned Fitzgerald a place in the record books.

Although Fitzgerald shot the bear last September, Boone and Crockett, which certifies hunting records, has only now determined the grizzly, with a skull measuring 27 and 6/16ths inches, is the biggest ever taken down by a hunter, and the second largest grizzly ever documented. Only a grizzly skull found by an Alaska taxidermist in 1976 was bigger than that of the bear Fitzgerald bagged.

 “I’m not really a trophy hunter, or anything,” Fitzgerald, 35, told “But I guess it is kind of cool.”

Fitzgerald brought down the bear from 20 yards, with one shot to the neck from his Sako 300 rifle. He said he knew from the tracks he was on the trail of a massive grizzly, but only learned this week that he held a world record.

“We knew it was big,” he said. “It was a rush.”

Bears are scored based on skull length and width measurements, and Missouloa, Mont.-based Boone and Crockett trophy data is generally recognized as the standard. Conservationists use the data to monitor habitat, sustainable harvest objectives and adherence to fair-chase hunting rules.

Richard Hale, chairman of the Boone and Crockett Club’s Records of North American Big Game committee, said it was unusual that such a massive grizzly would be taken near a a city.

“One would think that a relatively accessible area, with liberal bear-hunting regulations to keep populations in line with available habitat and food, would be the last place to find one of the largest grizzly bears on record,” said Hale.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game instituted grizzly hunting regulations to help balance and control the bears’ preying on moose. Although baiting is allowed under the regulations, Fitzgerald stalked his trophy.

Grizzlies are currently federally protected in the Lower 48 states under the Endangered Species Act, but thriving populations have prompted regulators to consider de-listing them, said Hale.

Parks investigates CP railway trash

I’ve seen grizzly bears following the tracks in Jasper NP.

By: Cathy Ellis, ROCKY MOUNTAIN OUTLOOK, Thursday, Apr 17, 2014

Garbage along the CP line.

Reports of toxic trash and garbage along the Canadian Pacific Railway line in Banff National Park have prompted a Parks Canada investigation.

A series of photos provided to the Outlook show items of toxic trash, including discarded bottles of anti-freeze, diesel fuel and motor oil, as well as plastic bottles and food containers, scattered along the tracks near Massive Siding just east of Hillsdale meadows. Several small oil spills were also present as well as the usual sprinkling of grain along the tracks, plus a few larger grain piles. One photo shows a large pile of grain-filled bear scat right by the line.

Grizzly bear 122, the large dominant male in the park, has been seen regularly feeding on grain along the train tracks this spring, primarily in the area near Massive Siding, about 1 6 kilometres west of Banff, and at Eldon Siding near Protection Mountain. Parks Canada officials say wardens went out to the site Monday morning (April 14), then contacted CPR and asked for the site to be cleaned up.

“It’s concerning, for sure. We don’t want to see anything toxic or unnatural food sources in the national park,” said Terry Willis, supervisor of Parks Canada’s law enforcement branch in Banff National Park. “Sometimes you find a juice box or bottle, and that’s nothing different than you would see on the side of highway, unfortunately. But when there’s pails of oil and things like that, we don’t want to see bears or other wildlife getting into that.”

Canadian Pacific Railway has been developing a big extension to its Massive siding, building another 4,600 feet of track to extend it to about 12,000 feet to allow larger trains on the same line to pass. Canadian Pacific Railway officials say the garbage was cleaned up Monday and Tuesday and that the vacuum truck was out on the tracks late last week, even before the railway giant was aware of the situation. Ed Greenberg, a spokesman for the company, said it was the company’s intention to clean up the mess within a few days and the incident has resulted in railway crews being reminded of proper cleanup protocols, particularly in the national park.

“Our railway acknowledges there was disconnect in the cleanup process and this refuse should have been taken away a lot sooner,” said Greenberg. “Since being alerted of this oversight, clean up crews were dispatched to the location on Monday where the refuse has been collected. We realize there were timing issues involved and the situation should have been resolved before this.”

Steve Michel, Banff’s human-wildlife conflict specialist, said Parks Canada continues to work closely with CPR to resolve the issue of spilled grain along the tracks, noting there have been improvements in the big picture, including a Parks Canada-CPR joint action plan and CP’s reinvestment in maintaining its fleet.

However, as a result of significant hauling because of a bumper grain crop, he said there’s currently grain spillage on the tracks that wildlife are actively feeding on, including bear 122.

Michel said bear 122 is frequenting the train tracks almost exclusively, primarily concentrating in areas near CPR siding locations such as Eldon and Massive, and is also travelling a bit further to the west. “It’s mid-April and we’re not seeing a lot of bear activity on the landscape, and bear 122 is the only one we’ve been seeing on a regular basis; in fact, we’re seeing him on a daily basis. He’s essentially just travelling the railway tracks,” he said.

Michel said other than winterkill carcasses, there’s no other major food source for bears at the moment. “Any time a grizzly bear is foraging on the railway tracks, it’s quite concerning for us,” he said. “We hope he avoids being struck by a train, but we recognize his current foraging patterns are putting him into a very risky situation.”

Meanwhile, Willis said it was his impression the garbage had been buried under snow throughout winter, and is now thawing out. He said he was not sure if it was related to regular railway work or the project to extend the siding. He said the next step is trying to find out who put it there. When asked if charges would be considered, Willis said it would likely result in a warning. “If it’s warranted, we certainly look at charges, but until we talk to CP and understand the circumstances of how it got there and who put it there… it’s hard to prove who put it there, right now,” he said.

Parks Canada asks that any suspicious activity be reported to 1-888-WARDENS .

Meanwhile, Parks Canada issued a warning on Tuesday (April 15) for the Great Divide Route (the old 1A Highway) because of a large grizzly bear frequenting the ski trail and adjacent railway.

British Columbia’s controversial spring grizzly bear hunt now open

Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

by Dene Moore Apr. 02 2014

British Columbia’s controversial spring grizzly bear hunt opened Tuesday, with one of the highest number of hunting authorizations issued in decades.

Based on government counts that showed stabilization of specific grizzly populations previously closed due to overhunting, the government reopened several areas to hunting this year. An estimated 1,800 authorizations will be issued, up from about 1,700 last year but lower than the 1,980 issued in 2011.

“I think we have the best idea [of the population] of any of the jurisdictions that hunt bears right now,” said Garth Mowat, a provincial government grizzly bear biologist in the Kootenay region.

“We have spent a lot of resources improving our understanding of the number of bears in British Columbia and I’m quite comfortable that it’s good enough to allow us to conservatively manage the hunt.”

The spring grizzly hunt runs from April 1 to the end of May. The fall hunt begins Oct. 1 and continues into mid-November.

Though 1,800 hunting authorizations will be issued, so far this year 1,459 licences have been issued via a lottery system. In 2011, 1,733 licences were issued of the 1,980 authorizations.

On average about 300 grizzlies are killed annually. The most recent year for which information is publicly available is 2009, when between 350 and 400 bears were shot.

Provincial biologists estimate there are approximately 15,000 grizzly bears in the province, which is home to about a quarter of the remaining North American population. Only Alaska has more grizzlies.

Biologist Paul Paquet of the Raincoast Foundation said it’s extremely difficult to get a proper count of grizzly bears and there could be far fewer – too few to risk a trophy hunt.

“The real numbers could be somewhere as low as 6,000 or as high as 18,000. We just don’t know,” Paquet said.

But the bigger question is the moral one, he said.

“Is this ethical, to be hunting bears? That’s really what’s at issue,” Paquet said. “This is a trophy hunt, as opposed to a hunt for food.”

Mowat agrees that the real issue is a question of moral support for the hunt.

“The debate about whether an individual morally supports a bear hunt and the debate about the sustainability of the hunt get woven together,” he said.

He does not believe there are conservation concerns.

In fact, he said, after 30 years of provincial management grizzlies are repopulating areas where they had been wiped out. Sows with cubs have been spotted moving west from the Kootenay mountains, into the Okanagan and Similkameen regions.

Conservation has been a concern.

They are largely extinct south of the Canada-U.S. border. The Alberta government suspended its grizzly hunt in 2006 and declared the bears a threatened species in 2010.

But in Alaska, there are 30,000 brown and grizzly bears, which are classed as the same species. The state fish and game department said about 1,900 were harvested in 2007.

Kyle Artelle, a biologist at Simon Fraser University and Raincoast, said the foundation’s own study found the provincial government quotas are not conservative and overkills are common.

“There’s a huge amount of uncertainty,” Artelle said.

Nine coastal First Nations have declared bans on bear hunting in their traditional territories. The Wuikinuxv, Heiltsuk, Kitasoo/Xai’xais, Nuxalk, Gitga’at, Metlakatla, Old Massett, Skidegate, and the Council of the Haida Nation say hunting is not allowed in the areas that largely cover the Great Bear Rainforest, though the ban is not recognized by the province.

In 2005, Raincoast began buying out commercial bear hunting licences in B.C. The group now owns the guide outfitting rights to more than 28,000 square kilometres of land in the Great Bear Rainforest on the north-central coast.

While the white spirit bears that call the region home cannot be hunted, the black bears that carry the recessive gene that produces them can be, said Chris Genovali, executive director.

The hunt is not necessary to manage the population, he said, and a recent study from Stanford University found that bear viewing contributes 10 times as much revenue and employment as hunting.

“The ethical argument is clear: killing for sport and amusement is unacceptable and, a lot of people would say, just outright immoral,” Genovali said.

Grizzly bear kill quota increases in Canada


Photo Copyright Jim Robertson

Photo Copyright Jim Robertson

March 2014: As British Columbia prepares for its annual spring grizzly bear hunting season, researchers are protesting that the hunting quotas put in place by the province are too high.

The British Columbia Government has cited that some sub-populations of bears have recovered, and therefore has opened up areas that have been closed to hunting, increasing the grizzly bear kill quota from 1,700 to 1,800. This is based on estimations by the Government of a population of around 13,000 to 14,000 grizzlies.

However, biologist at the Raincoast Conservation Foundation and the University of Victoria Paul Paquet argues that the data that has informed these estimates is inaccurate, as the methods used to collect it are outdated. Bear numbers are calculated by various techniques such as aerial surveys and traps that snag hairs of passing bears. “In many cases [the population estimate] will be based on assumptions that are maybe 10 years old,” explains Paquet, “None of this is easy, obviously. But we need to take account of the uncertainties.” Due to the way in which the data is collected, Paquet believes that the bear population could be as low as 8,000, or higher than 15,000.

Based on their findings the British Columbia Government has set a ‘maximum allowable mortality rate’ of 6 per cent of the grizzly population per year. However this mortality rate, put forward researchers, doesn’t take into account deaths by unnatural causes, such as road accidents and hunting, meaning that more bears die than the 6 per cent quoted by the Government, leading to ‘overkills’. In order to reduce the risk of overkills to a safe level, the researchers conclude that there needs to be an 81 per cent reduction of the target. “Because these are long-lived, slow-reproducing populations, they don’t necessarily recover from overkill,” Paquet explains.

Paquet along with Kyle Artelle – a conservation ecologist at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, Canada – co-authored a letter sent to Science last week. A total of four leading scientific researchers, including Artelle and Paquet, have signed a letter questioning the province’s estimates and expanded killing zones. The concerned researchers also spoke to the journal Nature in an attempt to open the quota to debate and raise awareness of the issue.

Although the grizzly bear is listed as ‘threatened’ under the Endangered Species Act in the United States, it is not listed under Canada’s Species at Risk Act, and is not protected by the Canadian Government. British Columbia boasts a quarter of the population of all North American grizzlies, however the bear’s habitat in certain areas may be under threat. The province does have protected areas, including the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary, but this area is under pressure from firms exploring the possibility of implementing a pipeline here. In the Purcell Mountains, there are plans to build a giant ski resort near the Jumbo Pass, which would threaten the north-south migration of the grizzlies.

Read our Field guide to grizzlies here, which has details on their habitat, threats, diet, and where to see them in the wild.