Today I attended a rally on the lawn of the legislature in support of a province wide ban on trophy killing of an iconic species: The Grizzly Bear. For more information on the Save BC Bears campaign, please visit their Facebook page. Below is the text of my speech at the rally.
Thank you all for coming to this very important event.
The Orca is an iconic species in British Columbia. And so too are Grizzly bears.
Would we condone the trophy killing of an Orca — just for the heck of it? Obviously not. Yet we allow the trophy killing of Grizzly bears — just for the heck of it.
The Coastal First Nation Great Bear initiative recently conducted a province-wide survey. Almost 90% of British Columbians believe that trophy killing of grizzly bears should be banned.
And this number is also important: 95% of hunters agree that people should not be hunting if they are not prepared to eat what they kill.
91% of hunters agree that fellow hunters should respect First Nations laws and customs when on First Nation territory.
In the case of the Great Bear Rainforest, bear viewing generated 12 times more in visitor spending than bear killing and over 11 times in direct revenue for BC’s provincial government.
Bear viewing generated 50 times the jobs of trophy killing.
When we think about habitat, climate and the impacts we are having on iconic species like Grizzlies look no further than what has happened this winter in Europe.
Due to an incredibly mild winter, bears in Finland have come out early from hibernation into an environment with little food. The climate in BC is rapidly changing as well. We have had one of the driest winters on record, with low snow pack – how will this affect food supply for BC Grizzlies, and their population? We have simply no idea.
We have no idea how many Grizzly bears there are in BC. We have no idea how they are responding to climate change.
But here’s what I know: I know what I want — I know what you want — I know what BC hunters want — and I know what the people of BC want.
A province wide ban on trophy killing.
And I reiterate again, we’re not taking today about the majority of hunters in BC harvesting deer and other species for food.
This is all about a government protecting a small lobby of well-heeled jet setters looking to tick one more item off their bucket list.
We have an opportunity right now in the Great Bear Rainforest. A coalition of 9 First Nations, scientists and environmental groups have been undertaking field work on bear populations, breeding habits, and the impacts of trophy killing. They’ve done extensive analysis. At the same time, forest companies and environmental groups have reached an agreement on the preservation of the Great Bear rainforest.
That region must be immediately declared a sanctuary