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I posed a question to the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations today asking how many Grizzly Bears he believes reside in the Great Bear Rainforest. I further asked the Minister if his government supports an immediate moratorium to trophy killing in the Great Bear Rainforest.  Below is the excerpt from Hansard. His response will not give heart to those who are working so diligently to protect this iconic species.


TROPHY KILLING AND POPULATION  STATUS OF GRIZZLY BEARS

A. Weaver: I just wish to change topic for a second and give the Minister of Finance a break. My question is posed to the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

British Columbia is blessed to be home of the world’s largest pristine coastal temperate forest, the Great Bear rainforest. Tourists flock there every year from around the world to watch grizzly bears in their natural habitat.

Unfortunately, this iconic species is also subject to trophy killing. Twice a year a few wealthy foreigners, predominantly from the U.S., fly into the forest to shoot bears, cut off their heads and leave the bodies to rot. This so-called sport has been banned by nine coastal First Nations and is opposed by nearly 90 percent of British Columbians and, importantly, 95 percent of hunters.

Can the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations please tell the House precisely how many grizzly bears there are left in the Great Bear rainforest?

Hon. S. Thomson: I acknowledge that the member opposite comes from a different place on this particular issue than we do on this side of the House. Our approach to wildlife management, to hunting in British Columbia, is based on a long history of best available science, based on an approach that hunting is an important part of population management and conservation in British Columbia.

The decisions are based on best available science, are based on conservative estimates of human mortality, are based on conservative estimates — deliberately conservative estimates — of regular mortality for species. That’s not just for grizzly bears. That’s for all species in the province.

Madame Speaker, 58 percent of the territory of the coastal First Nations is closed to grizzly bear hunting. There are about 2,000 bears in the Great Bear rainforest, of which less than 1 percent, 13, are hunted.


Madame Speaker: Member for Oak Bay–Gordon Head on a supplemental.

A. Weaver: I would argue, as clearly indicated, that we actually have no idea how many grizzly bears there are in the Great Bear rainforest, let alone elsewhere in British Columbia. Fortunately, however, in the case of the former, a coalition of nine First Nations, scientists and environmental groups have been undertaking fieldwork on bear populations, breeding habits and the impacts of trophy killing.

Here’s what we do know. In the Great Bear rainforest bear viewing generates 12 times more in visitor spending than bear killing — over 11 times the direct revenue for British Columbia’s provincial government. Bear viewing also generates 50 times the number of jobs as trophy killing. And forest companies and environmental groups have reached a historic agreement on the preservation of the Great Bear rainforest.

In light of the evidence I’ve provided, would the government support an immediate moratorium on trophy killing of grizzly bears in the Great Bear rainforest?

Hon. S. Thomson: Firstly, I want to acknowledge the member opposite’s reference to the agreement that’s been reached between environmental organizations and the forest industry in the Great Bear rainforest. I think that’s something that we can all celebrate — that very, very important step. We look forward to continuing to work with both the industry, those organizations and First Nations in the implementation of that very, very historic, important agreement.

I think the important point to make here is that this is not about either-or. This is about the important contribution that bear viewing and tourism make. It’s also about the important contribution that hunting makes to this province — $360 million annually.

This is not about one or the other. This is about making sure that we manage populations based on science, as I pointed out, based on conservation principles, to ensure that we create that appropriate balance, and that’s what we’ll continue to do.

In our population units for grizzly bears, wherever those populations are at risk, we don’t allow hunting. That’s the case in many of the population units in British Columbia currently. If the populations are at risk, we will not allow hunting in those population units.

8 Comments

  1. Jae Redfern-
    April 20, 2014 at 11:28 am

    So, apart from the fact that some folks really don’t like hunting tourism, what exactly stops both consumptive and non-consumptive tourism coexisting?

    I’m reading a lot of canned talking points against “killing for pleasure” as the basis of opposition to this hunt but such arguments could equally be applied to a lamb chop. Or to the super-lucrative BC “trophy fishing” industry. I don’t see opponents of the hunt chasing after either.

    Sustainable Bear hunting tourism produces much needed income for communities here in Nunavut. A lot of the talking points vilifying the BC hunt are uncannily similar to those used against Inuit managed sports hunts. Many of them were outright falsehoods and have lead to the loss of millions of dollars that went directly to impoverished communities.

    Namibia recently spoke eloquently about how they use sustainable hunting tourism to fund wildlife management endeavours. They also spoke of how simplistic anti-consumptive use arguments undermine local management. They have the backing of global heavyweights such as the WWF.

    What is Mr Weaver’s position on Namibian or Nunavut wildlife management?

    Once you strip away all the anti-hunting rhetoric, there is a distinct paucity of hard science based evidence used in this campaign.

    From this end of the country the whole campaign just reads like a culture war between two factions of rich people.

    I look forward to reading Andrew’s “green” treatise on the ethics of dragging salmon around on sharpened hooks for pleasure and profit.

    Also, a little more science, a little less demonization would help a lot more than links to the same canned talking points rehashed in the Guardian.

    • April 20, 2014 at 3:56 pm

      Hello Jae, I am not against hunting. It is trophy killing of grizzlies that is the issue (i.e. not for consumption). You cant have the industries co-exist. Eco-viewing / bear watching makes the bears not fear humans. Shooting them, cutting off their head and leaving the carcass to rot does the opposite. Also, it’s hard to market eco tourist bear viewing amidst a back drop branding of trophy killing an iconic species.

  2. March 5, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    Dear Dr. Weaver,

    Thank you. This is of far greater importance than petty politics. You represent the difference between those human animals who respect life, and those who do not. You have my complete respect, and full support. I offer my assistance in any way possible.

    The following is a letter sent to Premier Clark, and Hon. Steve Thomson regarding the “bigger picture”, and their destructive position:

    The Liberal government of BC recently re-opened two of the many wildlife ‘Management Units’ in the Province for increased trophy killing of grizzly bears.

    There is no ecological, nor is there any economic defense for this proposal. The following is an accurate description of what is truly at the heart of this proposal and why killing for trophies must be stopped.

    Our beliefs are just a filter that forms our reality. If one ‘believes’ that we, as a species, ‘manage’ wildlife, reduce all life to nothing more than “resources” to be exploited for money, or that we ‘control’ Nature, then one’s attitude, one’s behaviour and one’s reality is congruent with these same human animals whose fractured egos need to kill. This proposal represents the effects of lobbying at its finest. The photo-ops, the votes promised and money presented to, Christy Clark during her re-election campaign by the Guide Outfitters Assoc. of BC, the BC Wildlife Federation and the Cattle Rancher’s Assoc. of BC is well documented. This proposal fulfills campaign promises to financial backers, while “flipping the bird” to most BC voters who gave this Government their majority.

    Most human animals understand, and accept true subsistence hunting i.e the natural process whereby one creature takes, and feeds off the life of another in order that it may continue to survive. “Trophy killing” is a completely unnatural act. It is abhorrent behaviour driven by fractured egos. It is a classic example of the ’empowerment model’ consistent with the patriarchal culture of violence and abuse that permeates our society. Racism, sexism, bullying, rape, pedophilia all follow this same identical pattern – the suffering of one being, at the hands of another, because of an imbalance in ‘power’. This is not ‘power’. This is incredibly low self esteem manifested in the destruction of life. These men believe that by killing these benevolent creatures, they have demonstrated/attained greater ‘power’ than the grizzly. Some men of Eastern cultures suffer the same delusion. They ‘believe’ that eating tiger penis will give them the ability to copulate like tigers (tigers are renowned for their lengthy, intense mating). Cutting off an elephant’s face with a chainsaw; posing with a grizzly bear, waving it’s lifeless paw; hacking screaming dolphins to death with machetes; cutting the fins off a live shark and kicking it back into the ocean; killing for pleasure (ego), money (ego), and trophies (ego) – these represent the most grotesque side of humanity. Col. Russell Williams collected panties/lingerie as “trophies”, took pictures of himself wearing them, until his unsatisfied ego required that he take a bigger “prize”. This sickness is condoned, promoted, and perpetuated by the Liberals under the guise of “tradition”, “science” and “business as usual”. The Liberals are ‘branding’ British Columbia as a playground for sociopaths.

    And regarding their”science”? Biologists, government employees with mortgages on Victoria houses, medical/dental benefits, kids soccer and music lessons, being paid for their objective opinions. These people have made whole careers out of NOT conserving or preserving grizzly bears (or any other species), but producing population numbers and studies that continue to support the killing of them. That is the purpose of the Fish and Wildlife Branch. The one government employee who did speak out publicly against the trophy killing of grizzlies is long gone. Here’s some empirical data – population numbers for grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) have done nothing but plummet since European man set foot (and firearms) on the Atlantic Coast of North America. “Management Units”, “harvest”, “sporting” – softened biologist language helps them ‘believe’ in their work.

    The great majority of British Columbia’s political “leaders” have shared a history of WAC Bennett speciesist inspired “resource liquidation” – it’s all ours, there’s lots of it, so let’s destroy it for a buck. Fossil fuel pipelines, oil tanker traffic down the Inside Passage, open-pen salmon feedlots, scraping tourism ferries, and grizzly bear killing are consistent with this thinking. This destructive anthropocentric vision is not ‘growing’ this Province, it’s killing it.

    A word of advice Premier Clark et al – forget about the voters of British Columbia, you’re a parent. Ask your kids what they’d like to see for the future of this Province. Violence, abuse, bullying, rape and killing for kicks won’t be on their list.

    If our ‘beliefs’ respect the vital importance of a ‘healthy’ ecology, and our behaviours reflect this, then our man-made concept of an economy is not only guaranteed to be truly ‘sustainable’, but thriving.

  3. February 21, 2014 at 11:08 pm

    For this interested, this issue has been picked up by the Guardian in the UK. Please visit:

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/feb/21/trophy-hunters-grizzly-bear-hunting-canada

  4. February 21, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    I agree with Christopher Holt. Not only does killing anything purely for pleasure identify aberrant behavior, it also shines a spotlight on the disconnect between humans and the rest of life. This disconnect is allowing us to continue to ravage our natural environment for whatever purpose pleases us and therein lies the bigger problem. Of course, trophy killing should be stopped but so should many other assaults we humans carry out on nature for pleasure or profit or just because we think we can. If we don’t, we will be forced to accept responsibility when nature ravages us back and the result may well be catastrophic.

  5. Christopher Holt-
    February 20, 2014 at 11:28 pm

    Trophy hunting is just not acceptable in a civilized society. Killing for sport demonstrates a deeply disturbed human nature. And to profit from the needless slaughter of these magnificent creatures is no more honourable than to profit from the slaughtering of whales and dolphins. I would hope the Minister will have a change of heart.

  6. Dave Rodenhuis-
    February 20, 2014 at 8:54 pm

    Andrew, in contrast to the government view, I DO believe “it IS either-or”. That is, the days of hunting are over, and our future in BC is only tourism. There are exceptions for safety, culling and First Nations rights.
    I’m not well-informed, however. Is it reasonable to support the elimination of hunting (in favor of the development of tourism) in the GB rainforest? Is that YOUR position?