Dear Mr. Wilkinson,
I write to you as a constituent to request that you take a public position on the bear trophy hunt in British Columbia. This open letter is in response to your decision not to provide an independent reply to the questions raised below, and to forward me a pre-prepared Ministry response. Your Vancouver Quilchena constituents deserve better than the off-point talking points provided below.
While I appreciate your contention that trophy hunting and tourism are not mutually exclusive activities, there is an obvious choice between the two in some respects: (a) a rotting, headless bear carcass is not going to be of interest to camera-toting international tourists; (b) non-hunting tourists will not be able to visit areas that are actively used for hunting for safety reasons; and (c) the international perception of BC as a supporter of what is in some cases barbaric trophy hunting (see recent video) will damage the reputation and attractiveness of BC as an international eco-tourism destination.
By not taking a public stance against bear trophy hunting in British Columbia, you communicate to your Dunbar constituents and all British Columbians that you support the cruel practice of trophy hunting. As evidenced by videos of bear trophy hunting, it can be a sickening practice. In economic terms, the benefits of a robust eco-tourism sector far outweigh the relatively meagre income derived from trophy hunters.
Bears have far more economic and job-creation value if kept alive rather than being sold as wall decoration for a small number of mostly American big game hunters. By its own account, the government already spends more money administering the bear hunt than it earns in licensing and related fees . Bear and related wildlife viewing, by contrast, is a profitable business for entrepreneurs across the province.
In the Great Bear Rainforest in 2012, bear-viewing companies generated 12 times more visitor spending than bear hunting in the same area: viewing expenditures were $15.1 million while guided non-resident and resident hunters combined generated only $1.2 million in revenue .
While the popularity of bear viewing in the province only increases, trophy hunting revenue is capped by external market forces, including cultural discomfort at the practice at home and abroad, and a European Union ban on the importation of severed grizzly bear heads (trophies) from BC in place since 2002 .The most recent sadistic bear killing videos by amateur hunters in BC and Alberta will only increase international disgust at your continued support for the practice .
British Columbia is celebrated around the world for its natural beauty and charismatic mega fauna – the possibility of seeing a bear and other majestic animals in their natural habitat is what draws millions of visitors to our province every year.
Questions from a Confused Constituent
Myself, along with my neighbours in Dunbar and the rest of Vancouver-Quilchena look forward to reading your response to the two earnest questions below:
(1) Given the number of people who come to British Columbia each year to enjoy our wilderness, and who would pay good money for the chance to photograph a bear in the wild, while staying in BC hotels and paying BC wilderness tour guides, and who would spend longer in the province than trophy hunters, why does the government continue to support the trophy hunt?
(2) If you believe in innovation, job creation and sustainable prosperity in our province, why do you not support protection of the bear population for scientific research, tourism, and the innovative blending of scientific research and ecotourism that has been highly successful (and profitable) in British Columbia, and around the world?
Thank you for providing a response that goes beyond the template Ministerial reply that has thus far been your only answer.
Dear Mr. Stewart,
Thank you for your letter. With respect to the sources you cited, the ministry is disappointed with the CREST report, which misrepresents bear viewing and bear hunting as mutually exclusive activities.
The report makes a number of significant errors, including: