The grisly truth about B.C.’s grizzly trophy hunt

by David Suzuki

Grizzly bears venturing from dens in search of food this spring will face landscapes dominated by mines, roads, pipelines, clearcuts and ever-expanding towns and cities. As in years past, they will also face the possibility of painful death at the hands of trophy hunters.

B.C.’s spring bear hunt just opened. Hunters are fanning out across the province’s mountains, grasslands, forests and coastline, armed with rifles and the desire to bag a grizzly bear, just to put its head on a wall or its pelt on the floor as a “trophy.”

According to B.C. government statistics, they will kill about 300 of these majestic animals by the end of the spring and fall hunts. If this year follows previous patterns, about 30 per cent of the slaughter will be females, the reproductive engines of grizzly populations.

Many grizzlies will likely be killed within B.C.’s renowned provincial parks and protected areas, where trophy hunting is legal. Government records obtained by the David Suzuki Foundation in 2008 show trophy hunters have shot dozens of grizzlies in places we would expect wildlife to be protected. We don’t know the exact number of bears killed in parks since 2008 because, in contravention of a B.C.’s privacy commissioner’s ruling, the government refuses to disclose recent spatial data showing where bears have been killed.

Much of this killing has occurred in northern wilderness parks, such as Height of the Rockies Provincial Park, Spatsizi Plateau Wilderness Park and Tatshenshini-Alsek Wilderness Park. Tatshenshini-Alsek Park forms a massive trans-boundary conservation zone with federal protected areas in the Yukon and Alaska. Trophy hunting is prohibited in most U.S. national parks and all Canadian national parks.

 Wild animals don’t heed political boundaries. Wide-ranging species like grizzlies move in and out of neighbouring jurisdictions. If a bear in Montana wanders a few kilometres north in search of a mate, it goes from being protected by the U.S. Endangered Species Act to being a possible target in B.C.

But now, in response to intense pressure from the trophy hunting industry, the U.S. administration wants to strip grizzly bears of federal protection. U.S. President Donald Trump also recently signed into law rules allowing trophy hunters to target grizzly bears around bait stations and from aircraft and to kill mothers and their cubs in Alaska’s national wildlife refuges, where they’ve been protected from these unethical hunting practices.

Grizzly bears face an ominous political climate under the Trump administration, along with growing human threats across their range, from trophy hunting to habitat destruction, precipitous declines in food sources like salmon and whitebark pine nuts and climate change impacts.

In parts of Canada, mainly in sparsely populated areas of northern B.C. and the territories, grizzly bear numbers are stable. But in the Interior and southern B.C. and Alberta, grizzlies have been relegated to a ragged patchwork of small, isolated and threatened habitats — a vestige of the forests and grasslands they once dominated. The B.C. government has ended grizzly hunting among highly threatened sub-populations in the Interior and southern parts of B.C. And, in response to pressure from local First Nations, it has promised to do the same in the Great Bear Rainforest. But the slaughter of B.C.’s great bears continues everywhere else.

That this year’s spring hunt coincides with a B.C. election could bring hope for grizzlies, possibly catalyzing the first change in government wildlife policy in close to two decades. The May 9 election will give B.C. residents the opportunity to ask candidates if they will end the grizzly hunt if elected. So far, the B.C. NDP and Green Party say they would ban grizzly trophy hunting (but allow grizzly hunting for food), whereas the B.C. Liberals continue to defend and promote the trophy hunt as “well-managed,” despite scientific evidence to the contrary.

The fate of B.C.’s grizzlies is too important to be a partisan issue. All politicians should support protection. Rough-and-tumble politics this election season might finally end B.C.’s cruel and unsustainable grizzly bear trophy hunt. It’s time to stop this grisly business.

David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation. Faisal Moola is the David Suzuki Foundation’s director-general for Ontario and Northern Canada and an adjunct professor at the University of Toronto and York University.

Rural British Columbians Oppose Trophy Hunting of Grizzly Bears


Practically three-in-four voters in five rural British Columbia constituencies are opposed to the practice.

Vancouver, BC – The majority of British Columbians living in rural ridings oppose trophy hunting of grizzly bears, a poll conducted by Insights West on behalf of the Commercial Bear Viewing Association has found.

The results, based on a telephone study conducted in late January, show that 74% of voters in five rural ridings with strong hunting traditions are opposed to the trophy grizzly hunt.

The results align with a 2015 Insights West survey, where 91% of British Columbians voiced opposition to trophy hunting. This is the first in-depth poll carried out to gauge attitudes towards this issue in the Interior.

The percentage of voters who are opposed to the trophy hunting of grizzly bears stands at 81% in Kamloops North Thompson, 79% in Boundary Similkameen, 78% in Fraser Nicola, 66% in Cariboo North and 65% in Kootenay East.


“This poll categorically shows that there is no urban-rural divide on the issue of grizzly trophy hunting, something that has been asserted endlessly by politicians,” says Julius Strauss of the Commercial Bear Viewing Association. “British Columbians want an end to trophy hunting by a clear majority, even in deeply rural ridings with strong hunting traditions. It’s time government policy reflected that reality.”

“Few voters who cast a ballot for either of the two major provincial parties in 2013 are satisfied with the status quo on grizzly trophy hunting,” says Mario Canseco, Vice President, Public Affairs at Insights West. “Voicing support for the current state of affairs is not bound to be a winner with voters at their doorstep.”

About the Commercial Bear Viewing Association:

The Commercial Bear Viewing Association represents the interests of bear-viewing operators in British Columbia. Its purpose it to develop guidelines and policies for the industry and make recommendations to government. It is calling for a ban on the hunting of grizzly bears in the province, a move that it believes would make environmental and economic sense.

About Insights West:

Insights West is a progressive, Western-based, full-service marketing research company. It exists to serve the market with insights-driven research solutions and interpretive analysis through leading-edge tools, normative databases, and senior-level expertise across a broad range of public and private sector organizations. Insights West is based in Vancouver and Calgary.

About this Release:

Results are based on a telephone study conducted by Insights West from January 24 to January 31, 2017 among 400 voters in Boundary-Similkameen, Caribou North, Fraser Nicola, Kamloops-North Thompson and Kootenay East provincial constituencies. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region. The margin of error – which measures sample variability – is +/- 4.9 percentage points. View the detailed data tabulations.

For further information, please contact:

Julius Strauss
Chairperson, Political Committee, Commercial Bear Viewing Association
250-505-4166 or 250-275-4856

Mario Canseco
Vice President, Public Affairs, Insights West

87% of B.C. Grizzly Deaths Due to Trophy Hunting

Grizzly bear trophy hunt

Eighty-seven per cent of known, human-caused grizzly bear deaths in B.C. are attributable to trophy hunters, who have killed 12,026 grizzly bears since the government began keeping records in 1975, according to data obtained by David Suzuki Foundation.*

In 2016, 274 grizzlies were killed by humans — the vast majority of which (235) were killed by trophy hunters.

B.C. currently sanctions a legal trophy hunt by both resident and foreign hunters. Non-resident hunters killed almost 30 per cent of the grizzlies in the 2016 hunt.

The trophy hunt has become a hot election issue with the NDP and Green Party vowing to end the hunt if elected. An Insights West survey conducted in the fall of 2016 found 91 percent of British Columbians are opposed to trophy hunting.

Meantime, Tweet: The @BCLiberals are the party of choice for international #trophyhunters #bcpoli #bcelxn17 #grizzlyhunt #BanBigMoneythe B.C. Liberals are the party of choice for international trophy hunters — who donated $60,000 to the Guide Outfitters Association of B.C. to help prevent an NDP win.

The Canadian chapter of Safari Club International posted to Facebook: “NDP have vowed to end the Grizzly hunt in BC if elected. SCI chapters from CANADA and the USA banded together donating $60000.00 [sic].”

The Guide Outfitters lobby to continue trophy hunting, which attracts wealthy customers from around the world who pay as much as $20,000 for a hunt. The annual spring bear hunt began April 1.

Source: David Suzuki Foundation

B.C. Premier Christy Clark is a vocal supporter of the trophy hunting industry and a past winner of the Guide Outfitter association’s President’s Award.

B.C. has some of the weakest political donations rules in Canada, which allows anyone (including foreign corporations) to donate unlimited amounts of cash.

The New York Times recently called B.C. the ‘wild west’ of political cash and a Globe and Mail investigation revealed that lobbyists are routinely making political donations under their own names while being reimbursed by corporations — something that is illegal.

The B.C. NDP and B.C. Green Party have vowed to ban corporate and union donations if elected while the B.C. Liberals have promised to appoint a panel to review campaign finance rules if re-elected.

* Article updated to clarify data is based on known, human-caused grizzly bear deaths and does not include natural mortality (most of which is unknown).

BC Liberals promise to eliminate grizzly trophy hunting in the Great Bear Rainforest

In a stunning reversal of policy, the BC Liberals are promising to eliminate grizzly bear hunting in the province’s Great Bear Rainforest.

Premier Christy’s Clark’s Liberals made the promise as they unveiled a new platform for the May 9 provincial election that promised to protect healthy and sustainable wildlife populations.

“We must operate on the principle of conservation first in order to pass on B.C.’s natural splendour so future generations can enjoy it,” said the Liberal platform. “That’s why our wildlife management practices are determined by the best available science.”

The BC Liberals previously defended grizzly bear hunting in British Columbia, despite opinion polls showing nearly 90 per cent of B.C. residents opposed to the trophy hunting of grizzlies. But the new platform promised to phase it out.

“Today’s BC Liberals will work with the Coastal First Nations towards the elimination of the grizzly bear hunt in the Great Bear Rainforest, continuing with the science based approach to the bear hunt elsewhere in the province,” the platform said.

“We know that many First Nations have a deep connection to the land, and also use wildlife for food, social and ceremonial uses. Our hunting, trapping and angling regulations are designed to ensure species conservation and to maintain healthy wildlife populations for use.”

Green Party and NDP also opposed hunt

Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver proposed legislation, in March 2015, to stop the hunt.

The latest move by the Liberals also follows a similar commitment by the BC NDP which also pledged, last November, to end the controversial trophy hunt.

One of the provincial NDP candidates, Bryce Casavant, is a former conservation officer who was fired for refusing to kill two orphaned black bear cubs in 2015.

Chris Genovali, executive director of Raincoast Conservation Foundation, has actively campaigned against the trophy hunting of grizzly bears in B.C. over the years. He said the foundation welcomed seeing major political parties support calls to end the hunt.

“The evidence is overwhelming. Every argument that’s been put out there to justify the grizzly hunt has been blown out of the water, whether it’s economic, ecological or ethical,” Genovali said. “Studies have shown that bear viewing generates more revenue than bear hunting.

“I think finally the political parities recognized that [grizzly hunting] is not a winning party platform, at least with regard to the Great Bear Rainforest.”

Editor’s note: This article was updated at 8:50 p.m. PT with additional background information.

Correction 9:56 p.m.: An earlier version of this article stated that Bryce Casavant refused to kill two grizzly cubs. This has been corrected to black bear cubs.

Animal rights in the Trump Era: protecting Alaskan wildlife

With so much news coming from Washington DC these days, it’s hard to keep up with everything. One story that caught my eye and disgusts me to no end is a bill Trump recently signed into law.

What happens now? Predators, mostly bears and wolves, living on federal lands in Alaska will be slaughtered.

The law this bill repealed is an Obama-era regulation that prevented the hunting of bears and wolves on Alaskan federal lands unless it was deemed necessary to preserve the land’s refuge status. With the passage of this new law, bears and wolves can be shot from planes. They can be baited and shot. Cubs and pups can be killed in their dens, and mothers and their kids can be targeted and killed any time, any place.

As the former director of US Fish & Wildlife Services wrote in August of 2016, laws like this one are “purportedly aimed at increasing populations of caribou and moose but defies modern science of predator-prey relationships.” He was in favor of the Obama-era regulations that sought to protect predators on federal refuge lands. He stated that we should “ensure that predator and prey alike can thrive on our refuges.”

Why are bills like this, that so unfairly target predators–– going so far as to allow cubs and pups to be shot in their dens–– so popular among Republicans? The answer is the NRA, which backed this resolution. On the opposing side of the battle was the Humane Society, which urged Congress not to adopt the resolution.

One line in the NRA’s article about the law struck me as not only odd, but as an outright lie. They state that the ads the Humane Society aired in regards to the law are “falsely claiming that its repeal would allow for inhumane forms of taking bears and wolves.”

Is shooting hibernating bears in their dens not inhumane? Is chasing down bears from planes not inhumane? Is pulling the trigger on wolf puppies point-blank not inhumane?

The answer is obvious.

Now not only are the unethical and brutal murders of countless Alaskan bears and wolves legal, but the passage of this law suggests that we as a nation are okay with such inhumane actions. It also messes with the already fragile ecosystem, and will lead to the deaths of animals on refuge lands.

It is wrong, and I am deeply ashamed that it is now the law.

Trump repeals Alaskan bear hunting regs

Trump repeals Alaskan bear hunting regs
© Getty Images

President Trump rolled back a trio of regulations Monday, including protections for hibernating bears in Alaska.

The Obama-era rule from the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) prohibited certain hunting tactics that target “predator” animals likes bears and wolves while they are inside Alaska’s national preserves. This included a ban on hunters using airplanes.

Trump overturned the rule Monday, handing control of the hunting regulations over to Alaska state officials who have shown an eagerness to control predator populations as a way to protect other animals such as deer. But animal rights activists say this will open the door to hunters snatching hibernating bears and wolves out of their dens, or even killing them in front of their cubs.

The president also rolled back the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) Internet privacy rules and the Labor Department’s workplace protections that required companies to report injuries and illnesses that occur on the job.

Protesters gather at B.C. legislature, renewing calls to ban grizzly bear trophy hunt

April 1st marks the first day of the grizzly bear hunting season in British

“It’s the first day of the spring grizzly bear hunt, when the bears are just
coming out of hibernation and all they care about is having enough to eat
whatever food they can,” says Val Murray of Justice for B.C. Grizzlies,”for
the next 8 to 10 weeks in the province of British Columbia, those bears can
be shot.”

About a hundred people gathered in front of the B.C. legislature renewing
calls to end to the grizzly trophy hunt.

“The grizzly bear is a species of special concern, and we don’t know how
many grizzly bears are in the province. The province says 15,000 but we
don’t actually know if that number is accurate,” says NDP candidate for Oak
Bay-Gordon Head, Bryce Casavant, ” we need to be banning the trophy haunt
because it is no longer morally or ethically acceptable in this province.”

The David Suzuki Foundation revealed data showing over 13,000 grizzlies have
been killed by humans from 1975 to 2016.

he most recent numbers showing that with about 36-hundred hunting trips made
in a season, the hunters bring in about 4-point-8 million dollars.

The Commercial Bear Viewing Association says it raises 13-million dollars a

Many living in close proximity with the grizzlies, say their livelihood is

Donna Johnson of the Wuikinuxv Nation says grizzlies used to roam often in
her village growing.

“They’re few and far between, we don’t see as many as we use to, they don’t
come through the village as much. To our nation they’re like ancestors,
they’re that important to us.”

In a statement, the province tells Chek News:

“The government believes that the bear viewing and bear hunting are not
mutually exclusive and can co-exist. both bring benefits to the province,”
says Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands, & Natural Resource

Protesters want this grizzly hunting season, to be the last one in B.C’s


Money Talks; Grizzly Bears Die

by Barry Kent MacKay
Senior Program Associate

Born Free USA’s Canadian Representative


If they knew how pathetic they looked to ordinary people, would they feel
shame? Nah. They probably don’t care what others think. I speak of those
whose idea of fun is to end the life of a magnificent animal, pose over his
or her cooling carcass while photos are snapped, and keep remnants of the
slaughtered being in their trophy rooms.

The Premier of British Columbia, Christy Clark, who heads the Liberal Party,
is the darling of Safari Club International. She supports trophy hunting
because, well, it brings in money. That-not the lives of innocent
wildlife-is what matters to her ilk. Blood money is still money: the
fervently worshipped material deity of all that matters. Safari Club
International recently donated $60,000 to help assure that, in the May 9
provincial election, the National Democratic Party would not unseat Ms.

If elected, the National Democratic Party-far more progressive than the
Liberal party-has promised to end trophy hunting for grizzlies. Thus, rich
and powerful Safari Club International members in both Canada and the U.S.
dug into their change drawers and donated the $60,000 to the Liberal
election campaign, apparently through the Guide Outfitters Association of
British Columbia (which has honored Clark with its President’s Award,
cheered by her refusal to change the laws in order to limit such

The more rare and more magnificent the animal, the more these trophy hunters
seem to want to kill. Perhaps it’s out of some deep psychological need to
dominate, as if owning the stuffed remains of these glorious animals somehow
imbues the hunter with some of the glory. (Although, of course, to most of
us, it does the opposite.) And, few animals left in North America are more
rare than the grizzly bear, extirpated through so much of its former range.

Poll after poll and survey after survey have shown that more than 90% of
British Columbia residents don’t approve of the grizzly bear trophy hunt.
Even hunters, many of whom hunt for food and sport, disdain the trophy
hunter; they recognize that the “trophy” is the result of wealth, not of
what they would consider skill or need. British Columbia’s National
Democratic Party leader, John Horgan, clarifies that he does not oppose
hunting, but that he would end the British Columbia trophy hunt if he
becomes Premier.

Wildlife biologists, including those on the government’s own payroll, often
stand firmly opposed to the trophy hunt on ecological and conservation
grounds. That’s an important economic consideration, as two major studies
have shown that bear viewing generates more tourist income than bear trophy
hunting. But, you need to have bears to view-and the grizzly, with its need
for extensive wilderness and its slow reproductive rates, is particularly
vulnerable to endangerment.

The Liberals ended a moratorium on grizzly trophy hunts when they came to
power. Now, it’s time for things to change.

Barry Kent MacKay

Senior Program Associate

Born Free U.S.A.



CBC News Posted: Mar 31, 2017 4:08 PM CT Last Updated: Mar 31, 2017

A South Carolina man has been found guilty of illegally killing a grizzly bear while hunting in Manitoba.

The province’s Sustainable Development Department said the U.S. citizen was ordered Wednesday to pay $10,000 in fines plus $2,000 in court costs.

The grizzly bear was killed in June 2015 in northern Manitoba. DNA testing later confirmed the bear was a grizzly, an animal protected under Manitoba’s Endangered Species and Ecosystems Act.

Conservation investigators were tipped off about the grizzly killing by a member of the public, Sustainable Development said.

Until the late 1800s, grizzly bears roamed across the Prairies, including in Manitoba’s Red River Valley.

The animals have long been considered extinct in the province, but officials say they are slowly making a return in the northern region of the province.

Researchers in Manitoba’s Wapusk National Park have observed grizzlies entering into traditional polar bear habitat.

Parks Canada estimates about 20,000 grizzly bears remain in western Alberta, Yukon, the Northwest Territories and British Columbia.

Grizzly No. 122, ‘The Boss’ of Banff, wakes up from winter hibernation 

By Daniel Katz, Bow Valley Crag & Canyon

The biggest, baddest grizzly in Banff, No. 122, also known as ‘The Boss’, was spotted Wednesday morning wandering the railway tracks near Castle Junction, the first confirmed sighting of a bear in the mountain national parks so far this year.

No. 122 was first seen by a member of the public, who called in the sighting to Parks Canada.

“He’s just in the Castle Junction area, and is feeding on grain along the railway tracks there,” said Steve Michel, human-wildlife conflict specialist with Banff National Park, stating Parks staff verified the sighting after receiving the report.

Mid-March is the time when large male grizzlies come out of their winter hibernation and begin to be active on the landscape in search of their first meals in months.

Believed to be approximately 16 years old, No. 122 is considered to be one of the largest, most dominant grizzlies on the landscape.

Sporting a thick coat of fur grown over the winter, Michel said No. 122’s weight is estimated to be between 400 and 500 pounds currently.

He was last collared from 2012 to 2013, and wildlife officials found that his range covered more than 2,500 square kilometres in Banff, Yoho and Kootenay parks, mostly along highways and railways. Despite being hit by a train many years ago, he continues to use habitats heavily developed by humans to exploit food resources there.

“Because the Bow Valley is a very busy place and there are a lot of humans that occupy this landscape, he’s well-adjusted to humans and human facilities, and he seems to be relatively indifferent to our presence,” said Michel.

Michel added that snow on the ground will likely cause No. 122 to stay close to railway tracks in order to find food sources.

“We expect to see that he will continue with that behaviour for the next few weeks, and then as additional foraging opportunities become available, such as the first green grass starts to emerge, and dandelions and digging roots, any of these vegetation options he will take advantage of,” said Michel. “He certainly will take advantage of any opportunity he can to find carcasses on the landscape, animals that haven’t survived the harsh winter.”

Starting in May No. 122 is expected to roam the landscape in search of females as we get into the spring breeding season, which will dictate most of movements through May and June.

“Because of his size, he is certainly one of the more dominant grizzly bears that we have in the Bow Valley, and he certainly travels through the landscape with a significant amount of confidence,” said Michel.

Since ‘The Boss’ is not currently radio-collared, it is unknown when he first emerged from his den this season.

He has fathered a number of other high-profile bears in the area, based on a limited DNA analysis of five cubs from two different females. That study revealed he was the father of all those five offspring, and it is possible he may have sired many others, says Michel.

He bred with No. 72, a well-known female from the Lake Louise area, which resulted in two offspring, No. 142 and No. 143.

He also sired three cubs with female grizzly No. 64, a high-profile bear from the Banff area. The litter of that coupling resulted in bears No. 144, 148 and 160.

Grizzly No. 144 was the male who was destroyed by Alberta fish and wildlife officers in 2015 for killing sheep and llamas on a farm near Sundre, and No. 148, a female, has been seen on numerous occasions touring between Canmore and Banff. Last summer, a section of the Legacy Trail outside the Banff east gates closed due to No. 148 travelling close to the bike path.

Over the weekend, fresh grizzly tracks were seen on Kananaskis Country Golf Course, indicating bears were starting to wake up in the region.

John Paczkowski, ecologist with Alberta Environment and Parks, says they do not yet have GPS collar data showing that bears are active.

Parks Canada officials in Waterton and Jasper national parks stated that as of Wednesday they have not received reports of any bears on the landscape.

Sows and cubs usually come out of their dens in middle to late May, depending on the weather, because mothers are still nursing their young and spring is a difficult season to find food.

“Typically, it’s the adult males who come out first, and then the females with cubs are last, so it would be over the next month or even more we’ll see them come out depending on the sex and the reproductive status,” said Paczkowski.

With the arrival of warmer weather, Michel says people need start being aware of the fact that bears are waking up.

“People should now be thinking about bears, and they should be thinking about bears around their homes and campsites with respect to managing attractants … garbage, recycling, bird feeders, barbecues, pet food — all that stuff needs to be really secure,” he said. “When people are out enjoying the landscape, whether it’s hiking or snowshoeing or skiing, they need to be thinking about travelling in a group, being bear aware, carrying bear spray with them and making sure their dogs are kept on a leash.”