After 11 years of bringing you local reporting, the team behind the Vancouver Observer has moved on to Canada's National Observer. You can follow Vancouver culture reporting over there from now on. Thank you for all your support over the years!

Senseless bear killing incenses First Nations

See video
Film from Bears Forever website

"Oh yeah. We've seen your sign," a group of hunters including one NHL player reportedly told a Heiltsuk native from Bella Bella, after taking photos with an adult grizzly bear they'd just shot dead and decapitated. 

The "sign" in question is a giant notice welcoming visitors to the Great Bear Rainforest, asking them to "please respect our traditional law" and not engage in trophy hunting.

But National Hockey League player Clayton Stoner, a 28-year-old defenceman with the Minnesota Wild, shot the bear despite allegedly having seen the sign.

The incident happened last May, but still touches a nerve with people who are campaigning to protect wild bears from recreational hunting. Their voices are documented in a film, Bear Witness, filmed by BC's coastal First Nations.

"I was devastated. I was hoping to save [the bear's] life," said Jason Moody of the Nuxalk Nation. 

"The idea of trophy hunting, I really don't understand. Flying out into these wonderful areas and searching for these majestic bears that are nowhere else in the world, just to shoot them? I don't get it. I only hunt or fish for food, and that's the way I think it should be." 

As controversy over the bear hunting, blew up, some people defended the NHL player, saying he never broke any laws and should not be criticized for hunting. Stoner fired back at his critics, saying that he'd hunted the bear under a license. 

"I grew up hunting and fishing in British Columbia and continue to enjoy spending time with my family outdoors," he said in a statement.

"I applied for and received a grizzly bear hunting licence through a British Columbia limited-entry lottery last winter and shot a grizzly bear with my licence while hunting with my father, uncle and a friend in May. 
I love to hunt and fish and will continue to do so with my family and friends in British Columbia."

Some locals, however, oppose the practice of trophy hunting because it doesn't benefit the local economy compared to the tourism brought in by having live bears and wildlife in the area.

Nine First Nations have banned the trophy hunt for bears in their territories, and have set up a petition requesting people to respect their call for no more trophy hunting on their land. 

Read More:

More in Canada

The joy of giving

Science is now providing the evidence for what we have long held to be true: that it is better to give than to receive.

Amazing photos of September in Vancouver

Take a look back at September captured through the lenses of our VO Flickr Pool contributors.

A young Iranian helps Syrian refugees adjust to Canada

A young Iranian, himself, new to Canada reaches out to help Syrian refugees settle here. But with the war in Syria, tensions between Iranians and Syrians are rising. How will he succeed?
Speak up about this article on Facebook or Twitter. Do this by liking Vancouver Observer on Facebook or following us @Vanobserver on Twitter. We'd love to hear from you.