Here's why Save B.C. Bears is demanding tighter provincial regulations on trophy hunting
Chelsea Turner, a wildlife film maker, who grew up around bears in BC is at the forefront of the campaign to put an end to bear hunting in the province. CBC reports that dozens gathered on Friday in front of the B.C. legislature as part of a "Save B.C. Bears" rally to demand lawmakers put an end to trophy hunting of bears.
“They (bears) have always been a part of my life. So it was very upsetting for me that they could be hunted down by the trophy hunters,” Turner told the Vancouver Observer.
In Nov 2013, the Ministry of Natural Resources announced a plan to expand trophy hunting in BC to larger regions.
“I was very disturbed when I heard the news that the government - instead of putting a moratorium banning the hunt - is expanding the trophy hunting of bears,” added Turner.
A study published by a panel of scientists from University of Victoria and Simon Fraser University looked at the number of grizzly bears killed between 2000 and 2011 and compared the numbers to government data. They found that during those 10 years a total number of 3,500 bears were killed, including more than 1,200 female bears.
According to Turner the numbers are quite startling because hunting male bears is legal in the province. Hunters are encouraged to target males. But too often female bears are killed including mothers that have cubs. It is important to know that grizzly bears have the longest reproduction cycle of land mammals in North America.
Another fact highlighted in the study was a huge over-kill of grizzly bears. The number of bears hunted greatly exceeds the government limits in every single area of the province. The bears were over hunted between two per cent and 171 per cent.
The government has not reacted with much apparent concern about the 300 to 400 bears hunted every season.
“We don’t have a confirmed data on how many bears actually are there in the province. Only 15 per cent of the province has had bear population study conducted so we don’t know what effect does removing 300 or 400 bears every year will have on the future population, it is a huge cause for concern,” said Turner.
The government reports an estimated 15000 grizzly bears in the province, but since the surveys have only been conducted in 15 per cent of the province, this population estimate on population of bears could be quite inaccurate.
The recent poll conducted by Insights West found that 88 per cent of the British Columbians oppose trophy hunting, which clearly shows how deeply unpopular the practice is among the local populace.
A report published by the Centre for Responsible Tourism (CREST) in collaboration with Stanford University highlighted the importance of bear viewing in the Great Bear Rainforest.
They found that it generated 12 times more revenue than hunting and 11 times more direct revenue to the province. An economy that could be more profitable if expanded, but the trophy hunting surely seems to be getting in the way of that.
Grizzly bears are not endangered, but they are on the "blue list" in B.C. Blue-listed elements are "at risk", and if the regulatory vacuum is not stepped into they could one day become endangered, fears Turner.