Protect Great Bear Rainforest creatures from trophy hunters and pipelines

Bear viewing is now generating 10 times the amount of money that hunting brings in and supplies far more jobs, and the vast majority of British Columbians oppose trophy hunting. So where is the political will to protect the Great Bear Rainforest from trophy hunters and other threats? 

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This sort of murder is against the traditional law of the Tsimshian and other First Nations, and 9 in 10 British Columbians are against it according to a 2013 Insights West poll. And yet, after it was banned for years, in 2001 the Liberal government reopened trophy hunting. This is often done under the guise of management, but recent articles in Science and Nature assert that the science does not back up the number of allowed kills – leaving the bears alone alone allows for the most effective conservation.

The photo essay also showed the evolution of relationships within the bear circles: flirting during spring, frolicking, and perhaps the most touching, grieving. One of the photos showed a beautiful black mother with her paws protectively around her white baby after she had lost her other cub to predation. While it is legal to hunt black bears, it is impossible to know if they harbour the recessive Spirit Bear gene -– it is possible to wipe out all the spirit bears without touching them. The mourning from both bears was palpable and as heart wrenching as any human mother.

Guides are hired to help hunters find these creatures, and while that pays the bills, the majority are tired of it, and are willing to sell their right to hunt to Raincoast and retire. This takes a great deal of money, but while people from all over the world are chipping in what they can to purchase the hunting territory in this area in order to protect the wildlife, the government still dragging its feet shamefully on an all-out ban. The economics and the social licence are there. Where is the political will to protect the sacred bears?

Shamefully, even if the hunting is banned, the provincial government has just allowed Bill C4 to pass, opening up our precious parks to exploration for natural gas and oil exploration and, along with the federal government,is debating letting Enbridge, a company with a horrendous history with oils spills, plow through the Spirit Bear Habitat. 

Above-ground pipelines would threaten the area which is filled with streams natural food supplies for the Spirit Bears and the grizzlies. A spill from tankers that is proposed to go through some the most treacherous passages on earth would destroy the terrestrial and already endangered marine life near Haida Gwaii, covering the area with harmful bitumen (which is laced with benzene and other corrosive toxins to make it flow through the pipes) which it has been discovered sinks in the ocean, conveniently discovered after the National Energy Board hearings. Billion dollar clean-ups of oil spills are deemed successful if they recover even 20 per cent of the leaked oil.

The bear viewing and tourism industries are creating jobs and reliable tax revenues while ensuring the protection of these habitats – is that not more valuable than threatening the area with oil and mainly transient employment? Studies from Simon Fraser University show that a spill, likely caused by human error, has a 90 per cent chance of decimating our coasts and forests. If Raven meant to make the Great Bear Rainforest a haven for the Spirit Bears, a symbol for peace and harmony, and their cousins, is it not up to us, and our elected officials to protect it?

People concerned about protecting the habitat of wildlife in the Great Bear Rainforest can make their voices heard by taking part in the Defend Our Climate, Defend Our Communities event on May 10, in cities across Canada. 

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