FISH-NL calls on federal government to reopen seal hunt

March 21, 2017


A sealing vessel moves along the edge of an icefield in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

©TC Media file photo

Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) president Ryan Cleary says there’s no reason why the seal hunt shouldn’t be up and running again by this weekend.

In a news release on Monday evening, FISH-NL called on Ottawa to reopen the harp and hood seal hunt to all harvesters and all fleets in Newfoundland and Labrador by March 25.

The federal government closed the hunt on March 15 to allow time for seal whelping and nursing.

Sealers want to harvest the older seals for their meat and high fat content, but as more times passes, the animals lose their weight, according to the FISH-NL release.

“Word has it that the feds want to wait until after April 10 to reopen the hunt, but that means the sealers — many of whom are fish harvesters — will miss out on precious income, especially with so many fisheries on the downturn,” Cleary said.

Brad Rideout, owner of Phucolax International, a seal operation in Fleur de Lys with dozens of employees, said his business is looking for up to 5,000 animals immediately after March 25.

“Adult seals will still be in great shape then with the best meat and fat content,” Rideout said.

Seal oil is currently selling for $257 a barrel.

A reopening date was not given when the seal hunt was closed on March 15.

Chased by wolf pack while out on dogsled, Labrador man returns to hunt

From prey to predator, Guido Rich hunts down wolves that chased him

By Garrett Barry, CBC News <> Posted: Mar 03, 2017

Guido Rich was chased into town by a pack of wolves while he was out on dogsled this week. He returned with a gun to hunt the animals down. (Submitted by Sherri Wolfrey)

A Labrador man turned from prey to predator this week, when he tracked down and killed a group of wolves that chased him on his dogsled.

Guido Rich hunted the four animals — two on Wednesday night, and two more on Thursday morning — after they chased him back into Rigolet.

‘I don’t think my dogs would have had a chance against four or five wolves.’ – Guido Rich

Rich says he was about 10 kilometres away from town with his dogsled Wednesday night, when he realized what he originally thought was nearby snowmobiles was actually a pack of wolves — and they were headed in his direction.

“I was there bawling at my dogs and trying to get them running fast to get back to town,” he told CBC Radio’s Labrador Morning.

He outran the wolfpack into Rigolet, and went and picked up his friend and their gun. Rich and his friend returned to the trail, and found the pack close to the community.

Wolves hunted

The first two wolves were killed on Wednesday night, after Rich escaped from the pack. (Submitted by Sherri Wolfrey)

That’s when Rich started firing, killing two of the animals and pushing the others into the woods.

The next morning, Rich went out to the trail again to look for the surviving animals, who came too close to his home for comfort.

“I said it’s just as well try to get them instead of running into an encounter with them again,” he explained. “Either drive them away or get them, I figured.”

On Thursday morning, Rich found two more of the animals and killed them.

Lessons learned

The experience gave him a bit of a fright, Rich said. Being alone with his dog sled, and without a gun, he said he worried for what was going to happen to his dogs.

“I don’t think my dogs would have had a chance against four or five wolves,” he said. “I was more afraid for the dogs than myself.”

Rich said he never had a wolf encounter like this before, but now promises he won’t leave town without his gun again.

“I guess it was pretty close to fighting for my life,” he said. “I should have had my gun then, but I wasn’t thinking about wolves.”

With files from Labrador Morning

More work needed to protect grizzly bears from trains, says conservationist

A conservationist is questioning the direction Parks Canada and CP rail are going to mitigate human-caused bear deaths.

Jim Pissot, of the WildCanada Conservation Alliance, is reacting to the results of a five-year research project.

He called the study impressive, but said the mitigation work needs to go further.

Pissot said CP should be treated the same way tourists are if they get caught feeding wildlife.

He blames grain as the number one factor causing grizzly bear mortality in Banff and Yoho National Park and thinks Parks Canada should hold the company accountable.

Parks Canada said it works closely with CP rail.

CP points out a research project dismissed the notion that grain is the main contributor to bear mortality in the mountain parks.

Both Parks Canada and CP have laid out a list of ongoing projects they are involved in to keep bears away from the tracks, including getting rid of Buffalo berry bushes and burning new habitats to attract them to safer areas.

CP said it has spent millions of dollars fixing leaky grain cars and helped fund the most recent study.

On Tuesday the company issued this statement:

“Over the years, people have become entrenched in their positions on this very important topic. That is why, CP, working closely with Parks Canada, decided it was necessary to engage the academic community – who could provide sound, unbiased, and peer-reviewed science.

The perception that the largest contributing factor to grizzly bear mortality risk on the tracks is grain was not supported by the important research that was completed by Parks Canada and Universities of Alberta and Calgary.

Prior to the start of the intensive phase of the research program, the grain hopper car gate replacement had been completed. While not quantified as part of the research, this work was a tremendous success and there is much less grain reported on the tracks.

The research has succeeded in identifying opportunities like improving vegetation management along the railway and installing electromats at select locations to deter bears.”

In the past decade, 10 grizzly bears have been reported as being killed by trains in Banff and Yoho National Parks.

It’s estimated there are only about 60 grizzly bears left.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


Why trains run down grizzlies: ‘After six years of study, Parks Canada, Canadian Pacific blame the bears’

Michele Jarvie, Postmedia News | February 9, 2017 

Grizzlies on railway tracks in Banff National Park.

Courtesy (c) John E. Marriott ImageGrizzlies on railway tracks in Banff National Park.

Some wildlife activists and Banff business owners are voicing disappointment over recently released results of a $1-million, five-year study into bear deaths on train tracks in mountain national parks.

Jim Pissot of WildCanada Conservation Alliance, says the recommendations to create alternative habitat and escape routes, manage vegetation, install early warning systems and electric mats ignore one glaring reason grizzlies are attracted to the tracks — spilled grain from rail cars.

“Bizarrely, after six years of study, Parks Canada and Canadian Pacific have blamed the bears,” said Pissot. “They are determined that the bears, wolves and other wildlife must change their behaviour, but CP will not have to.”

The study found that approximately 110 tonnes of grain is lost on the tracks each year, which is equivalent to the annual nutritional needs of 50 adult grizzlies. In the past 10 years, 10 grizzlies have been killed by trains in Banff and Yoho parks.

But the study’s research team found a number of reasons why bears are attracted to the railway, including ease of movement along the rail corridor, abundance of berries and other plants and, to a lesser extent, spilled grain.

“It’s not the only factor attracting them, and may not be the main one,” said University of Alberta professor Colleen Cassady St. Clair.

kA grizzly looks for snacks along the tracks just west of Lake Louise, Alta., on Tuesday, May 20, 2014. The bear heard a train coming and got out of the way quickly.

She said they looked at grain spillage and train speed, and found more grain was spilled the slower the train travelled. More grain was also deposited at the west end of the park, yet the grizzly bear mortality was higher at the east end.

When the study results were released in January, CP officials said they had no plans to adjust procedures or policies beyond continuing to respond to grain spills with vacuum and blower trucks.

Critics question why Parks Canada is not pushing Canadian Pacific to take action.

“Death on CP tracks is the number one human cause of grizzly bear mortality in Banff National Park,” said Stephen Herrero, professor emeritus at the University of Calgary and one of Canada’s foremost experts on grizzly bears. “The railway needs to do more.”

Juniper Hotel hotelier Peter Poole said wildlife deaths negatively impact tourists and, potentially, Banff businesses.

“Our guests — and Canadian taxpayers — are dismayed when the elk and bears in our national parks are killed unnecessarily. There are straightforward solutions that would cost pennies for each tonne of cargo going through our mountain parks; let’s get on with it.”

NDP pledge to end grizzly hunt brings debate out of hibernation

By Ezra Black

In 2008, Elk Valley hunter Mario Rocca shot a grizzly bear.

It was the culmination of over two decades of effort. Permits to hunt grizzlies are hard to come by and that year only one was issued for the Elk Valley.

In next May’s provincial election, hunters like Rocca could be setting their sights on New Democrat John Horgan who has promised to end B.C.’s grizzly bear hunt if his party forms the next government.

They’ll be armed with votes and not rifles.

“I know a lot more about bears than the leader of the NDP. I don’t know if he’s ever seen a grizzly bear in the wild,” said Rocca, a past-president of the Fernie Rod and Gun Club. “He’s not a hunter. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about when it comes to wildlife. He’s governed by emotion, not science. From the hunters’ perspective things are being managed. We’re not going to run out of grizzly bears.”

In 2000, the NDP banned the grizzly hunt. In 2001, the Liberals were elected and ended the ban.

Tom Shypitka, the Liberal candidate for East Kootenay, said the New Democrats lost several rural seats in 2001 in part because of their stance on grizzly bear hunting. He said their decision to go for another ban betrays an urban bias.

“My reaction to the NDP’s announcement was astonishment and disappointment,” he said. “They have rural members. They went through this in 2001. They have to know there are enough bears to hunt and that rural people believe in hunting. The only explanation for their decision to ban something that is supported in rural B.C. is that they have written off rural B.C. They must remember. Obviously they don’t care about rural seats.”

Shypitka accused the NDP of making “a wildlife management decision on the basis of emotion, politics and urban bias.”

“Wildlife management decisions should be made on the basis of what the science supports,” he said. “If there are enough bears in a unit to support a hunt, a hunt is allowed. If there are insufficient bears to support a hunt, no hunt is allowed. That is how wildlife should be managed.”

Further left on the political spectrum, Randal Macnair, the NDP’s candidate for East Kootenay, said he’s “always supported science-based wildlife management,” but that the Liberals have got it all wrong.

“I understand why a ban has been proposed,” he said. “It is in large part a result of the appalling mismanagement of wildlife and habitat by the BC Liberals.”

Macnair said that while the Liberals have been touting their environmental management system, the fact remains that grizzly bear populations in the East Kootenay are in trouble.

“Grizzly bears used to roam from Manitoba to Mexico all across western North America,” he said. “B.C. is now their last stronghold and they are no longer living in some areas in the southern portion of our province including the Rocky Mountain Trench. A BC NDP government will work to bring everyone together to protect this special, iconic animal.”

Horgan’s announcement is dividing politicians and hunters but recently published studies suggest the real losers in the Elk Valley are bears.

Corinne Hoetmer, project coordinator for The South Rockies Grizzly Bear Project in the Elk Valley, said that while hunting accounts for a number of grizzly bear deaths a much larger number are killed in other human-bear conflicts.

The South Rockies Grizzly Bear Project is a long term, ongoing population inventory of grizzly bears lead by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations in the Kootenay Region.

Hoetmer said the Elk Valley has become an ecological trap for grizzly bears. The animals are drawn to the valley because of food and are then killed by humans.

“More grizzlies die from non-hunting related causes in this area than anywhere else in B.C.,” she said.

Citing a paper published by Mowatt and Lamb on the population of grizzly bears in the Southern Rockies and Flathead, Hoetmer said the South Rockies grizzly bear population declined by 40 per cent between 2006 and 2014. This decline was most likely due to a decade of poor foraging in combination with an increase in human-caused mortality.

There were 116 grizzly bear mortalities recorded in the South Rockies and 44 in the Flathead during this period.

Of the human-caused mortalities in the South Rockies, 38 per cent were hunter kills, 25 per cent were for animal control and other similar reasons, 28 per cent occurred on highways and railways and 8 per cent were illegal. In the Flathead, 91 per cent of recorded kills were by hunters and 9 per cent were control kills.

“This non-hunting mortality is much more difficult to mitigate than the regulatory changes involved with mitigating mortality due to hunting,” said Hoetmer.

Joe Caravetta, an inspector with the B.C. Conservation Service’s Kootenay-Boundary region, explained the number of grizzly bears hunted in the Elk Valley varies from year to year depending on population estimates.

“There are bears shot in self-defense, there are bears that are shot for protection of property, there are bears killed on the highway and there are bears killed by railways,” he said. “After taking those things into consideration we decide on what the population can handle.”

The Wildlife Act requires certain parts of an animal to be packed out of the bush once it’s been shot. While a hunter may choose to pack out its hide, paws or head, there is no requirement to pack out a grizzly bear’s meat, he said.

Grizzly bear meat is not generally eaten because it can carry the parasite that causes trichinosis, said Caravetta. The number of grizzly hunting permits issued in the Elk Valley is small. From 2013 to 2015, only one was given out.

“It’s probably the most intensely managed hunt in the province,” he said. “It’s the highest profile.”

Calling the practice “primarily a trophy hunt,” Wildsight, a Kootenay-based environmental group, has come out in favour of the ban.

“It is clear that hunting has a significant impact on grizzly bear populations in the region,” said John Bergenske, Wildsight’s conservation director. “Eliminating the hunt should significantly increase grizzly bear survival. Grizzly bears are very slow reproducers, so loss of any females in a population can significantly impact the long-term health of a population.”

Students put pressure on premier to ban trophy hunting of grizzlies


– Victoria News

Students at Glenlyon Norfolk School are trying to ban trophy hunting of grizzly bears in the province.

For more than a year, Marisa Smith, Giulia Giommi and Lily Wieczorek have been researching and sending letters to B.C. Premier Christy Clark, advocating for the provincial government to abolish trophy hunting of grizzly bears.

“The grizzly bear population is really important to the ecosystem. If the grizzly bear population is taken out of the environment, then the entire ecosystem will collapse and become imbalanced,” said Marisa, 13.

“It’s really important and we need to make sure the ecosystem remains balanced…We want to stop some of these issues that are really hurting the environment and that ultimately affects us and all the animals around us.”

According to Pacific Wild, an organization that defends wildlife and its habitat on the Pacific Coast, between 300 and 400 grizzlies are killed every year in B.C. by hunters who want their heads as trophies.

Thirteen-year-old Giulia had the opportunity to see grizzly bears in their natural habitat during a bear watching tour in the summer. As part of the tour, they climbed up a tower and were able to see 12 different grizzly bears going about their business within a few hours.

“We can’t just have a place where there’s some bears alive…all of B.C. should be protected, not just some of it,” Giulia said.

Since then, the group has been spreading the word, telling local politicians about the cause.

In November they met with NDP MLA for Victoria-Swan Lake Rob Fleming, who was in support of the cause, calling the practice outdated and backwards. A few days later, the NDP pledged to ban grizzly bear trophy hunting if they’re elected into office during the next provincial election in May.

“The government has become more and more out of step with its citizens…We could be doing so much better, not just for the bears but for British Columbians who need jobs and who want to promote the wonderful tourism experience that our diverse regions have to offer,” Fleming said, adding the government should be focused on promoting bear watching tours, not killing them.

“This is another group of students who are doing amazing things in our community and learning and becoming experts on issues that our province has to tackle. It’s always great to see students learning essentially to become effective advocates and researchers on public policy.”

The girls remain optimistic they’ll be able to set up a face-to-face meeting with the premier to advocate for their cause. In the meantime, they plan on meeting with other NPD MLAs and doing a speech about the ban to the NDP caucus in the new year.

The advocacy is part of the school’s United Conservationists Environmental Club, which meets twice a week to discuss a number of environmental issues. Groups are also working on helping tigers, penguins and sharks.

Canada: We must do better for our animals

by Anna Pippus

Special to The Globe and Mail

Published Wednesday, Dec. 07, 2016 5:00AM EST

Last updated Wednesday, Dec. 07, 2016 10:53AM EST

Anna Pippus is a Vancouver-based lawyer and director of farmed animal
advocacy at Animal Justice

Earlier this year, 95 per cent of Canadians said
.html> it is important to ensure farmed animals are treated humanely, even
if it costs more. This is quite possibly the one issue we can actually agree
on <> . Although most Canadians eat
animals, we are united in having no appetite for animal suffering.

Animal transport regulations, in particular, have been a political
battleground for animal welfare advocates and the meat industry.

While the government does not regulate farm conditions – choosing instead to
finance and endorse industry-created codes of practice – it does get
involved in regulating transport and slaughter because of the food safety
and interprovincial trade dimensions.

If the government is going to do something, we want them to do it

But Canada’s transport regulations have been criticized
ns-farmed-animals-suffer-die/> as the worst in the Western world, lagging
behind the transport welfare laws of the European Union, Australia, New
Zealand and the United States.

Transportation is incredibly stressful. For animals that have never left the
controlled conditions of indoor modern farms, being crowded into a truck
with strangers, deprived of food and water for long periods of time, and
exposed to extreme weather is one of the worst ordeals of their abbreviated

It is so stressful, in fact, that millions of animals do not survive the
journey to the slaughterhouse. Dropping dead during transportation is so
common that law enforcement will not even investigate a truck of chickens
from an egg farm, for example, unless at least 4 per cent
<> are dead on arrival.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency this week published much-anticipated
amendments to the Health of Animals Regulations after more than a decade of
lobbying from animal welfare advocates, humane societies, veterinarians,
animal lawyers and other experts in animal protection.

The proposed regulations are disappointing, barely improving some key areas
and entirely failing to address others. A CFIA statement
<> says
98 per cent of shipments are already compliant with the new regulations – in
other words, not much is changing.

For example, exposure to extreme weather is a major source of stress, injury
and mortality. Animals are shipped <>
every day of the year, regardless of weather, which means that in open-sided
trucks they are directly exposed to that day’s precipitation, temperature,
wind and humidity at top highway speeds.

Yet the proposed regulations simply reword the old weather exposure
provision, retaining wishy-washy language that would, in practice, mean
animals will continue to be <>
transported in inadequate trucks every day regardless of weather.

There is no reason we cannot require common-sense technological improvements
and accountability for non-compliance, following in the footsteps of the
European Union. There, vehicles are required to have forced air and heating
ventilation systems that keep trucks between five and 30 degrees Celsius.
Monitoring systems must alert the driver when temperatures reach either
limit, and the data from these systems must be accessible to law

Moreover, Canada’s proposed new regulations would continue to allow animals
to be transported without access to food, water or rest for inexcusably long
periods of time, despite this being a main source of international concern.

On-board watering systems – a simple retrofit – would not be required. Pigs
and horses could be in transit for up to 28 hours; cows for up to 36 hours;
and chickens for up to 24 hours.

The proposed regulations fall short: They would not prohibit animals from
being held by their legs or thrown, even though this is a common – and
g-of-Poultry.pdf> – practice in the chicken transport industry; animals
would be overcrowded because specific, measurable, evidence-based loading
densities have not been included, as they are
ns-farmed-animals-suffer-die/> in the European Union; they are silent on
the issue of using bolt cutters to cut off animals’ nerve-filled teeth to
the gum line, a common animal management technique (yes, really
<> ); they would permit the use
of electric prods to shock
anadian-plates> injured or fearful animals to move; and driving and
transport company training and licensing requirements would remain
ineffectively weak.

Fortunately, it is not too late for the government to get its act together –
there’s a 75 day comment period
28> before these bleak regulations become law. Let’s hope they will hear
the 95 per cent of us who want to shed the dubious honour of having the
worst animal transportation standards in the Western world.

NDP leader takes aim at B.C. grizzly bear trophy hunt


B.C. NDP Leader John Horgan has tackled one of the most divisive wildlife issues in the province by promising his government will end the trophy grizzly bear hunt if elected next spring.

Hoping to win broad support for a policy that may be a hard sell in rural ridings, Mr. Horgan is proposing to make it illegal to kill a grizzly for its head and hide, but legal to shoot one for its meat.

“It’s not about being opposed to hunting. It’s about being opposed to the grizzly bear trophy hunt and only the grizzly bear trophy hunt,” Mr. Horgan said at a press conference on Thursday.

Related: Cormorant Island visit for two grizzly bears comes to an end

Related: Have we reached peak wilderness? A new report says yes

He acknowledged that if hunting grizzly bears for food is allowed, trophy hunting might continue, because people might be able to get around the ban by taking the bear meat home.

But he said regulations could make such abuse unlikely.

The New Democrats banned grizzly hunting when they were in government in 2000, but lost support in rural ridings. The Liberals swept to power in the 2001 election and ended the ban.

Mr. Horgan said he thinks a carefully crafted ban on the trophy hunt would have wide support, including among hunters.

“The people of British Columbia are opposed to the trophy hunt of grizzly bears. That’s been made abundantly clear in poll after poll after poll,” he said. “I believe as we go into the next election, it’s important the people of British Columbia know that New Democrats stand against the hunting of grizzly bears for trophies.”

But Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson rejected the NDP plan, saying it is not workable and is not based on wildlife science.

“The problem with this is it’s the NDP trying to be all things to all people. I’m not sure how they manage a process where they call for a ban on trophy hunting and then continue to allow hunting [for meat],” he said. “It’s kind of a hollow promise. In reality, there will be many opportunities for the hunt to continue.”

He said the Liberals would continue to allow trophy hunting in areas where the bear population is healthy.

Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver said the NDP did not support him when he proposed legislation to restrict the trophy hunt by requiring all hunters to carry out the meat when they kill a bear.

“I’m grateful they’ve copied what I’ve done, but where were they when I brought in that private members bill two years ago?” he asked.

Mr. Weaver said if his bill had been adopted, it would have effectively ended the trophy hunt, because few people are interested in grizzly bear meat.

Jesse Zeman, a program manager of the B.C. Wildlife Federation, said hunters who shoot grizzly bears for food should be allowed to continue.

“It’s good,” he said of bear meat.

He said the BCWF, which represents about 50,000 hunters and anglers, supports requiring hunters to retain the meat of animals they shoot.

Ian McAllister, executive director of the conservation group Pacific Wild, called the NDP proposal “a step in the right direction” because it targets trophy hunting.

But he said allowing bears to be hunted for their meat is a mistake.

“We think this is just a loophole to continue the trophy hunt under the guise of food hunting,” he said.

Scott Ellis, executive director of the Guide Outfitters Association of B.C., said the NDP approach is not based on scientific wildlife management.

“We’re disgusted when politics gets [priority] over science,” he said.

Mr. Ellis’s organization represents hunting guides, many of whom offer a trophy grizzly hunt for about $14,000.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said the NDP is doing the right thing.

“It is barbaric just to shoot an animal for its head,” he said.

B.C. has an estimated 15,000 grizzly bears. Hunters kill about 250 a year.

Joe Foy, a director of the Wilderness Committee, praised the NDP policy, saying thousands of bears have been shot since the Liberals lifted the hunting ban.

Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, All Rights Reserved

Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, All Rights Reserved

Bear Viewing 12 Times More Beneficial For Economy Than Hunting

Why Does B.C. Still Kill Grizzlies for Sport?

In early October a provincial government news release landed in the inboxes of reporters and researchers around B.C.

It boasted of a new government-commissioned report that concluded B.C. has “a high level of rigour and adequate safeguards in place to ensure the long-term stability of grizzly populations.”

Even though the report was less glowing than the news release and noted there are monitoring difficulties and a lack of funding, the review gave the BC Liberals the ammunition they needed to conclude the controversial practice of hunting grizzlies for sport is just fine.

But, here’s the thing: even if the province’s estimates of 15,000 grizzly bears in B.C. is correct — and it is a figure disputed by independent biologists, some of whom believe the number is as low as 6,000 — the stand-off over hunting intelligent animals for sport isn’t about the science. It’s about values and ethics.

The ethical argument is clear. Gratuitous killing for recreation and amusement is unethical and immoral,” says Chris Genovali, executive director of Raincoast Conservation Foundation, one of the organizations fighting to stop the trophy hunt, which takes the lives of about 300 grizzly bears in B.C each year.

This is a moral issue. This is about ethics and values,” reiterated Val Murray of Justice for B.C. Grizzlies, an organization hoping to make the grizzly hunt an issue in the upcoming provincial election.

After more than 30 years as a teacher, if a child in the classroom was deliberately hurting animals, he would be immediately referred for counselling before the behaviour escalated into anything else, but people go out and just kill these bears,” she said.

Dramatic pictures of grizzlies fishing for salmon bring tourists from all over the world to “Super, Natural B.C.”

But those tourists rarely see the gut-churning videos of a grizzly being shot, attempting to run for his life and then being shot again — a sequence included in the new film “Trophy” produced by LUSH Fresh Handmade Cosmetics.


Yet, Premier Christy Clark and the BC Liberals show no sign of changing course and, in a parting shot, one of the most energetic supporters of the hunt, retiring Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett told Vaughn Palmer on Voice of B.C. that parts of the province have too many grizzly bears and they need to be shot.

It is a view that is increasingly out-of-step with the majority of British Columbians and in direct opposition to the views of Coastal First Nations who have banned trophy hunting in their territory.

Following a trend set by previous polls, an October 2015 Insights West poll found that 91 per cent of British Columbians oppose hunting animals for sport. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 per cent.

Look at who we are as a people and a nation and where we are headed,” environmental activist Vicky Husband urged the Grizzly Bear Foundation board of inquiry in Victoria.

We are past the time to stop grizzly hunting. It’s not ethically right,” she told the three-person panel headed by philanthropist Michael Audain.

In addition to holding public hearings, the panel is talking to First Nations, scientists, hunters, guide outfitters and conservation organizations and will use the information it garners to set up conservation, research and education programs.

The group, which is looking at the effects of climate change, urbanization, loss of habitat, accidents and food availability as well as the hunt, is writing a report that will be handed to government in February.

Another report headed government’s way this spring is from Auditor General Carol Bellringer, who is looking at whether the province is “meeting its objective of ensuring healthy grizzly bear populations throughout B.C.”

The government claims its decisions are science-based and points to the new scientific review, but the Audain panel was cautioned to take the report with a grain of salt

This was a government report, commissioned by government, for government. It was not peer-reviewed,” warned professional forester Anthony Britneff.

Government estimates of the number of grizzly bears are based on models, but Melanie Clapham, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Victoria, who has researched grizzlies for a decade, cautioned that more research is needed.

Models are only as good as the numbers you put in to them,” she said.

A 2012 study by Stanford University in conjunction with the Center for Responsible Travel found that bear viewing groups in the Great Bear Rainforest generated “more than 12 times more in visitor spending than bear hunting.”

But there is increasing concern that the two activities cannot co-exist.

Grizzly bears are a passion for Dean Wyatt, owner of Knight Inlet Lodge, and he takes pride in showing tourists the bears feeding on salmon and berries near his lodge.

But, even though Wyatt wants more British Columbians to understand the vital role grizzlies play in the environment, most of his guests are from overseas because he has found from bitter experience that advertising in B.C. is dangerous for the bears.

I would love to have more British Columbians, but the ones that come first are the hunters, so we don’t market very much in B.C.,” he told the Audain panel.

If we put something in the paper, immediately the hunters show up to see if the bears are there. The hunters are there in their boats 24 hours later. It’s horrible,” Wyatt said.


Will no politicians stand up for grizzlies?

by Judith Lavoie

  • November 7

While most citizens oppose the bear trophy hunt, BC’s politicians seem reluctant to offend hunters.


IT’S AN INCREASINGLY POPULAR CAUSE that, in BC’s politically sensitive, pre-election months, should have the two major political parties tripping over each other in an effort to adopt it as their own.
Instead, provincial Liberals are literally sticking to their guns in support of the controversial grizzly bear trophy hunt while the NDP has not yet settled on a position.
Polls have consistently shown that British Columbians dislike trophy hunting, a blood sport that sees foreign hunters paying upwards of $16,000 for the chance to shoot a grizzly bear for the sake of a head on the wall or a furry rug on the floor.
An October 2015 Insights West poll found that 91 percent of British Columbians and 84 percent of Albertans oppose hunting animals for sport. The margin of error for BC is plus or minus 3.1 percent.
But, so far, with the exception of the BC Green Party, those numbers are not enough to spark political support. Instead, a proliferation of diverse non-profit groups are taking up the challenge to protect the grizzly, which has been listed as a species of special concern by the federal Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.
Organizations such as Raincoast Conservation Foundation and Pacific Wild have approached the hunt from a scientific perspective for decades, while the newly-formed Justice for BC Grizzlies is appealing to would-be politicians to look at the ethics of killing for sport. Nine area First Nations, who comprise the Coastal First Nations, want to end the commercial grizzly hunt in their traditional territories and, together with Raincoast, have been buying up hunting tenures in the Great Bear Rainforest to reduce the threat to the bears.
Another unusual approach is being taken by the fledgling Grizzly Bear Foundation, headed by philanthropist Michael Audain. The Foundation has launched a board of inquiry, holding meetings around the province, looking at threats such as habitat loss, food supply and climate change as well as hunting. The panel will submit a report to government by February.
For those who are uncertain how to get involved, the University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Centre, on behalf of the David Suzuki Foundation, has prepared a legal toolkit “Facilitating Public Participation in Grizzly Bear Hunt Management in BC.” The toolkit first addresses the question: Why are grizzly bears important? Grizzly bears, it asserts, “are a vital ecological, cultural and economic resource in BC. They are apex predators that interact with other plant and animal species in their habitats and their population health is therefore a key indicator of the overall ecosystem’s health.”
Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics is the latest business organization to become involved and will be launching a campaign this November at its 240 stores around North America. Lush is also producing a 30-minute documentary on the hunt. “I think people will be appalled that, in BC, trophy hunting of grizzly bears is still happening,” said Carleen Pickard, Lush ethical campaigns specialist.
Meanwhile, Auditor General Carol Bellringer is looking at whether the government is “meeting its objective of ensuring healthy grizzly bear populations throughout BC.” Bellringer’s report is due this spring, but it is not known whether it will be released before the May election.
While the Liberal government is showing no sign of changing course, the NDP is having internal discussions.
“A couple of caucus meetings are coming up. Stay tuned…We know this is important and it’s on our radar,” said NDP Environment spokesman George Heyman.


Back in the dying days of the last NDP government, in 2001, a three-year moratorium was imposed on the grizzly bear hunt. Immediately after the election, however, it was almost immediately rescinded by Gordon Campbell’s Liberals when they swept to power.
Martyn Brown, Campbell’s chief of staff in 2001, said he believes the moratorium was probably lifted by ministerial order, rather than after any in-depth discussion or cabinet debate, and was likely the result of pressure from rural MLAs, many of whom were ardent pro-hunters.
“It certainly wasn’t something that was a broad discussion that I can recall,” said Brown, who suspects the issue got lost in the many policy decisions and budget cuts made immediately after the Liberals came to power.
Brown believes the grizzly hunt should no longer be ignored and he wants to see trophy hunting banned throughout the province, for grizzly bears and all other species.
“It’s [because of] uncertainty about the management of the population and principally the ethical concerns,” he said. “Precious animals and wildlife are being taken for nothing but a trophy. They are not being taken for food or ceremonial purposes, they are simply for people’s self-aggrandizement and whatever twisted, distorted satisfaction they get from killing an animal,” he said.
Brown is surprised the NDP are silent as he believes they have little to lose by coming out against the hunt. “If they really thought about it I think they would realize there’s a very small percentage of seats that might be at risk, if any,” he said. “The risks are so minimal and the rewards would be so much greater if they would just stand up and say and do the right thing and say this is a barbaric, out-dated hunt that needs to be stopped,” Brown said.
Premier Christy Clark would also have little to lose by restoring the moratorium, Brown said. “But I don’t think the BC Liberals are even slightly interested in revisiting their position because of the likes of [Energy and Mines Minister] Bill Bennett particularly and others from rural BC who are defenders of the trophy hunt ostensibly for its economic value and its importance to rural lifestyle,” he said.