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andrew.weaver.mla@leg.bc.ca

We need to end the trophy hunt in British Columbia

Today I had an OPED appear in the Times Colonist. I reproduce it below with several hyperlinks added.


In the grizzly hunting debate, the BC legislature appears to be the last stronghold protecting the trophy hunting industry in our province.

Economic, scientific, and social justifications for the practice don’t add up. Ecotourism and bear viewing companies generate more revenue than their trigger-happy counterparts, and they are far more sustainable over the long term. There is considerable uncertainty within the scientific community about grizzly bear population numbers and notable concerns about how they will adapt to the challenges climate change will bring. Polls repeatedly put public opposition for trophy hunting in British Columbia in the 90% range, for both urban and rural populations and resident hunters who overwhelmingly oppose the practice.

This is where we must draw an important difference between trophy hunting, and hunting.

Trophy hunting is the killing of an animal for the sake of the kill, the sake of collecting a trophy ­ often a severed head. It is a cruel, selfish, and barbaric practice that is packaged and sold as a sport. Trophy killing has little to do with the thousands of British Columbians who hunt because they enjoy spending time outdoors, respect the animals they harvest, and take great pride in sharing the meat they harvest with their loved ones. If we are going to end Trophy Hunting in British Columbia, we must first understand that it has nothing to do with hunting. As the legislation currently stands, it is illegal to waste meat when hunting in British Columbia, unless the animal you have killed is a cougar, wolf, lynx, bobcat, wolverine, or grizzly bear. The edible parts of big game must be removed from the animal and packed out to one¹s home, or importantly for non-resident hunters, to a meat cutter or a cold storage plant. These last two options provide trophy hunters with legal meat laundering opportunities, meaning that they could still hunt for the trophy but give away the meat.

In March I brought forward a Bill, supported by First Nations Summit, that would close this loophole, forcing the packing out of all meat from all animals (not just grizzly bears) hunted in British Columbia to a person’s home, whether that be in British Columbia, Texas, Australia or Germany. This was carefully written to protect the rights of First Nations and resident hunters in British Columbia, while going after the practice of trophy killing. As you might imagine, the guide outfitting industry did not support this legislation. I suspect many a trophy hunter would find it difficult, if not impossible, to pack out several hundred pounds of Trichinosis laden grizzly bear meat across international borders. As with all legislation, its success or failure relies on proper implementation and a commitment to enforcing it.

When legislating the practices of non-resident hunters, the rights and interests of First Nations and British Columbians should still be first and foremost. We need legislation that says in this province we hunt for food, not for the sake of killing – it is not okay to come here to kill our animals for a prize. Hunting should not be a corporate endeavour. Furthermore our government needs to acknowledge and act upon calls from First Nations who have enacted bans on trophy hunting in their traditional territories.

What has surprised me about this debate is how little our elected officials have had to say about it, given the almost unanimous opposition to the practice amongst British Columbians.

Both the BC Liberals and the BC NDP have refused to have an honest discussion about this issue in the legislature. The BC Liberals point to the studies that justify their inaction, all the while ignoring the growing body of academic literature that suggest action is needed.

The BC NDP on the other hand have yet to state any firm position on the issue. One hopes that this isn¹t simply avoiding taking a position on an important issue for fear that it will help their electoral prospects.

While this is certainly an emotive issue, it’s one that most British Columbians agree on. Trophy killing debases the very legitimate reasons that many British Columbians choose to hunt. It’s time we enact policy that understands the difference between the two, and finally puts an end to trophy hunting in British Columbia.

45 Comments

  1. Robert Arndt-
    November 16, 2015 at 10:30 pm

    I agree with you. Thank you for your efforts. People should read and understand the need for your bill.
    I’m a hunter and strongly appose the guide liecence aspect. This country gave us the right to survival by harvesting. Not producing income from animal resources as from the colonists that came to this country. The problem as I see it now is government is reluctant to eliminate the industry of guides for tourists. Really!!!

  2. dean-
    November 7, 2015 at 6:18 am

    so you claim these eco toursist put in more money than hunters?. prove what they put directly into animal conservation, they are usualy private companies and its all for their own fincial gain, only thing they might pay is into the tax system., as all hunters do and all our money goes direct to the cause.
    ive bet to see even 1 touristy outfit out there in all my years as a hunter. you sound more like them antihunter terrosist claimig their greedy profits and work also goes to helping stop us as hunters…and it doesnt, not 1 dime goes to lands and resource people to do their work

  3. Dave McMillan-
    November 6, 2015 at 4:29 pm

    Is banning trophy hunting just one step toward banning all hunting?

    • November 7, 2015 at 7:03 pm

      No. Not at all. British columbians support hunting.

  4. brian thompson-
    November 6, 2015 at 9:47 am

    Well Andrew, according to the pros and cons in the comment section here, your study is bogus, no more accurate info than there is in these comments. Best you start using science instead of emotion for your future proposals.

  5. Evan-
    November 5, 2015 at 7:54 pm

    Andrew why don’t you start basing your position on facts and science rather than feelings and emotions. Speak to any biologist that is not on David Suzukis pay roll and ask what the number one cause of grizzly bear cub fatality is. The answer is adult male Bears. The exact bears that are targeted by hunters. Hunting is a useful management tool. And think again before you bash the BCWF, they have done far more for conservation and education than you or your third rate wanna-be political party ever will. Do us a favour and stay on Vancouver island, it will lighten your carbon footprint

    • November 5, 2015 at 8:59 pm

      Bash the BCWF?? Are you kidding. They supported my bill! Raincoast opposed it. I think it is you who should get the facts right :-) I recognize the remarkable conservation work that the BCWF has done.

      Remember, my bill was all about protecting the rights of the resident hunter while recognizing public sentiments over the trophy kill. The only way this would affect a resident hunter is that they would have to pack out the grizzly meat. Foreign trophy hunters would have to back out grizzly and all other wild game meat to their domicile, whether it be in Texas or Australia. They could no longer just hunt for the trophy and give away the meat.

  6. Mike Cooper-
    November 5, 2015 at 2:13 pm

    Andrew your facts on eco tourism are skewed. While wildlife viewing is a healthy economic factor what it does not take into account that most bears killed are in areas of the province where little or no Eco tourists exist. In fact most of them are not reachable except for long drives 4×4 trucks and still longer hikes or flights in. When someone is willing to fly into the back country and pay a guide to take a picture the same amount they get for a harvest then we can talk.

    Consumption of he animal will lasting only a year at lost. A hide or mount will last a lifetime.

  7. Dave-
    November 5, 2015 at 1:14 pm

    Again Andrew;

    How much money did eco tourism put into wildlife conservation last year?

    Do you know what user groups fund wildlife conservation?

    • November 5, 2015 at 1:24 pm

      Agree, the BCWF is one of the most conservation-oriented organizations there is. You can’t hunt what is no longer there. Same is true for Ducks Unlimited.

      • Dave-
        November 5, 2015 at 2:08 pm

        The BCWF doesn’t fund wildlife conservation. HUNTERS are the only people in this province who continually put their money where their mouthes are, and fund wildlife through the sale of licences and tags. HUNTERS donate time and effort and money to projects.

        And I dare say that quite a few of those HUNTERS are trophy hunters in your eyes….

        How much money have you personally contributed in the last year to wildlife? In the last decade?

  8. Mark-
    November 5, 2015 at 1:14 pm

    Your comment about scientists being insure of Grizzly numbers is interesting. It’s just sort of stuffed off in the rest of your article. The fact is that grizzly numbers are very strong. I know this first hand from having several encounters every year. There should be increased LEH availability for Grizzly bears in select areas of BC. Let’s approach wildlife management from a fact based biological approach and leave out emotion, and biased/skewed surveys

    • November 5, 2015 at 1:23 pm

      Mark, the numbers are not strong. They are only strong in one small fraction of the province and then a ton of assumptions are made regarding statistical relationships elsewhere. In addition, the allocations do not account for climate change. They assume certain harvest rates are sustainable. There is also a relationship between huckleberry availability and grizzly bear health. This past year was a bad year.

      • Dave-
        November 5, 2015 at 2:20 pm

        So you are saying that the grizzly population is headed for a crash this season, due to the berry crop being poor? Is this the first time in history that there has been a poor huckleberry crop? I was unaware that across the entire province there was a shortage……

        Do you have ANY information to back that up at all, or are you just grasping at straws?

        What small fraction of the province are the numbers that you seem to be grasping at generated from?

        How do you account for the fact that there were grizzly bear conflicts and attacks across the province this year, if there are only bears in one small area?

        How do you account for the anecdotal evidence offered by thousands of individuals who are spending countless thousands of hours in the field this fall indicating that they are seeing more large predators such as bears than ever before?

  9. Jonathan Proctor-
    November 5, 2015 at 12:46 pm

    Andrew, I have a simple question. Is sheep hunting where both the meat and head are taken (the head must be taken and inspected by law) trophy hunting? Please clarify.

    • November 5, 2015 at 12:48 pm

      No.

    • November 5, 2015 at 12:49 pm

      No. That is not trophy hunting. That is hunting.

    • November 5, 2015 at 12:50 pm

      Trophy hunting would be flying in from Texas, taking the meat out, but giving it away locally, and flying back to Texas with the head only. My bill would mean that you would have to pack the meat back to your home in Texas too.

      • John-
        November 5, 2015 at 1:15 pm

        I don’t see the moral logic in that at all. Why does it matter consumes the meat as long as it is consumed?

        I presume you are against carbon trading as well then using the same logic.

        • November 5, 2015 at 1:25 pm

          Because as a society we no longer accept killing a beats just for the sake of it. However, we accept that hunting has been part of our culture for as long as we have been on Earth.

          • Dave-
            November 13, 2015 at 9:33 am

            Seemed fitting that this be posted here as well.

            I’m a hunter. I am a sheep hunter. I love sheep meat, but I have no interest in hunting ewes. I will not condemn those that choose to though. I hunt sheep for the experience, for the chance to be out there in their country and watch them, and for the hope that I can find one big enough to kill so that I can posses him, hold his horns in my hands, and wonder about the chips and gouges he acquired in his life time. I will look at those horns on the wall and relieve those days long past the time that I am able to climb those mountains. The meat will be eaten because I like it, but that is a trophy to me as well. Few will be able to taste the meat of a mountain sheep fairly hunted, but I have.

            I am a hunter. I am a grizzly hunter. I will ill run my fingers through the long fur of the mountain grizzly I killed, and I will relive those moments were I trailed him through the alders after I shot him. I will watch the video of his reaction to the shot as he fed high on a mountain slide, and I will be secure in the knowledge that my life is better for that experience, for I have hunted the grizzly in his home, on his terms. I did not hunt that bear so that his flesh might sustain me, I hunted that bear to collect the memories and to know deep down that I have been tested, and stood strong.

            I am a hunter. I am an elk hunter. I hunted elk across mountains and through forests. And I listened to the sweet sound of elk bugles and chuckles and grunts, and it filled my soul with purity and strength. I let animals that I could have killed walk unmolested, because they didn’t meet the criteria I held myself to at that time. And when the season came close to ending I killed an elk that had no antlers, had no teeth, had nothing to offer in the way of a trophy but the memories, and it’s sweet meat that will feed my family over the winter.

            Andrew, I cannot pretend to fully understand your motivations for you trying to tell me why I should be ashamed of my reasons to hunt. And I don’t expect you to understand my reasons to hunt. I can tell you though, that I am not ashamed of killing a bear, and taking his hide so that I might better remember his life. And I am not ashamed that his flesh fed the Ravens and Eagles and sustained lives other than mine, for that was his purpose, much the same as every other living being that has existed.

  10. John-
    November 5, 2015 at 11:48 am

    I find it quite ironic and somewhat hypocritical that Andrew represents Oak Bay, which is currently infested with deer. How about you show the Province that you can manage wildlife in your own backyard before you try and manage dozens of species across the Province?

  11. John-
    November 5, 2015 at 11:44 am

    Why is there a Big Horn Sheep in this blog post? People eat sheep and it’s very good meat I am told.

    Grizzly Bear populations are very healthy right now and I fear there will be more and more problem encounters with people in the future as they lose their fears and encounters increase.

    The management of wild animals is a complicated science. The Grizzly Bear issue isn’t nearly as black and white as suggested in this blog post. It’s unfortunate that politicians take a scientific issue and use it as a wedge issue. Andrew, you denounce the same thing when it comes to Climate Science. Why do it to other areas of science? It’s disappointing.

    Furthermore, I think it’s sloppy to state that ‘academic literature indicates that action is needed’ without providing a proper reference to such studies. If you bothered to talk to anybody who spends time in the outdoors, they will tell you Grizzly Bears populations are very strong right now.

    As far as First Nations go, some tribes used to cull Grizzly Bears when their populations threatened their people.

    • November 5, 2015 at 12:17 pm

      Because the post is about trophy hunting not hunting.

      • John-
        November 5, 2015 at 1:08 pm

        Can you provide a single example of when the meat of a Big Horn Sheep has not been consumed?

        • November 5, 2015 at 1:27 pm

          Of course not, by law in BC, you would have to pack out the meat. If you were a resident hunter, you would take it home. If you were a guide outfitter, your client may or may not want the meat. You would be required to pack it out but you could give it away. The client could just take the head home. My bill would require the guide outfitter’s clients to take there meat back to their domicile. Please read the article.

  12. john-
    November 5, 2015 at 11:38 am

    I subscribe to much of what you articulate Andrew; the responders/posters are hunting apologists, who literally, could never elevate even a millimetre toward the empathic and humane understandings we have of the ever decreasing ‘wild’, the challenges for these animals to just ‘naturally survive’. The varied nonsense espoused by the posters is just that, a personal, selfish and unseeing hunting culture that justifies their actions with the sot and spiff they’ve left here.

  13. Jared-
    November 5, 2015 at 11:21 am

    I don’t agree with this at all. Like it or not trophy hunting puts alot of money back into the system and helps with conservation. Personally I’ve never heard of bear watching doing this. On that note several bc hunters were hospitalized after grizzly attacks this fall so the ides of bear watching seeme like a dangerous and idiotic idea. My last this is making people haul out the meat. Bear can be difficult to freeze and cook in a way that kills the trichinosis. You wouldn’t eat contaminated beef or pork that you knew had trichinosis so why should hunters.

  14. Art-
    November 5, 2015 at 11:13 am

    I’m a hunter myself and I don’t oppose a very well managed grizzly bear hunt, although I wholly disagree with the comments about eating the meat. Sure some ‘say’ they like it, but they do so only to take away the argument that no one wants the meat… and mostly no one does.

    I hear many of my fellow hunters doing a very poor job of defending the grizz hunt, they talk about the need to manage the numbers of animals and can cite research that says bears lose their fear of humans after a generation and many other arguments to justify the grizz hunt.

    If an honest grizz hunter ever wanted to state the truth they would simply say it’s about the thrill of the hunt and killing the largest land predator in North America. That is it, it is not about the meat, and it is not about wanting do you their part in managing the species, it is about the sport.

    Perhaps if those who wish to keep the grizz hunt would simply acknowledge the truth behind their motives, they could begin to argue from a less defensive position. For me it’s simple, I don’t eat terrestrial predators so I don’t hunt them and the ‘killing’ part of any hunt is never a pleasant experience so I only shoot what I what I want to eat.

  15. matt-
    November 5, 2015 at 11:00 am

    As a resident hunter of BC I do not support this. Your numbers are bogus, not one hunter I know thinks the grizzly hunt is bad-we have a very healthy population of grizzly in BC-IT is managed just fine, the only thing this does is satisfy people who wear their heart on their sleeve.

  16. Dave-
    November 5, 2015 at 10:56 am

    I have a question for you Andrew, exactly how many grizzly bears are hunted in Oak Bay every season?

    How does this even affect you in any way, shape, or form? You seem intent on trying to stop a legitimate, legal hunt that is enjoyed by many British Columbians and that directly benefits all wildlife. Is it that it upsets your Urban sensibilities? Does it directly impact your constituents in some way?
    Or is this simply your ego trying to force your emotion based thoughts on the rest of the province?

    I am truly curious what your motivations are with this.

  17. Dave-
    November 5, 2015 at 10:50 am

    Exactly how much money does “bear watching” put back into wildlife conservation?

    How much money do hunters put towards wildlife conservation Andrew?

  18. marv-
    November 5, 2015 at 10:19 am

    Andrew your comment trichinosis-laden grizzly-bear is false. Where are you getting this information from ? I might add that Trichinosis is found in Pork, Salmonella in Chicken, as well as eColi in Beef.
    You sir need to get your facts straight as Grizzly Bear is edible to those who want to take the meat home with them. Proper handling of meat during packing, butchering is critical. Your assumption that its laced with disease is a pile of Scat , thats bear shit to you sir

  19. Ryan-
    November 5, 2015 at 10:06 am

    I dont hunt grizzly bears but i will still not support this. we have heathy populations in bc because they are managed properly and numbers are kept in check with the food available for them in each management area. Stoping the distruction of there habitat would help way more but no one wants to tackle the real issues because its way easier for the city idiots to post hate comments about hunters on facebook. Until people who live in big citys realize that all the wonderful thinks like wood, gas and extracted minneral come from bear habitat areas and change the way we live then we will continue to see idiotic attemps to solve problems

  20. Paul-
    November 5, 2015 at 9:58 am

    I don’t have an issue with trophy hunting and in fact don’t believe the 90% figure quoted in the above article, where did it come from. I know a lot of people who hunt and none of them feel that way.
    The statement that bear watching generates more money than trophy hunting is also bunk. Grizzly bear populations in this province are closely monitored and the highest they have been in decades.
    Yes trophy hunting is an emotional topic but how about we let science based data collected by provincial biologists be used to regulate hunting and not emotions.
    Many trophy hunters go years without harvesting an animal and therefore have less impact on wildlife populations than meat hunters. Myself I hunt for the entire experience which includes the meat on my table that I have provided and the trophy as a memory of the hunt. As for grizzly bear meat, I know several people who have eaten it and say it’s much the same as black bear meat and not necessarily full of Trichinosis. Trichinosis can be found in many kinds of meat including pork, so that argument is invalid.
    Let the biologist’s do their job and stop you’re politicizing with half truths and attempts to pit hunters against hunters. The hunters of British Columbia must stand together against the likes of you,

    • November 5, 2015 at 12:17 pm

      Sources are linked in the above post. In reference to your questions, here is some relevant information.

      This result has been duplicated many times over the last few years (http://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/bearsforever/pages/42/attachments/original/1378071208/V1.0_BC_Bear_Survey_-_Final_Results_-_July_28_2013_-_Backgrounder.pdf?1378071208) . Most recently, as you can see from this data released October 5th, 91% of British Columbians oppose hunting animals for sport
      http://www.insightswest.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Animals2015_Tables.pdf .

      As Angus McAllister, of McAllister Opinion Research, states here; “The attitudes of hunters included in the sample are especially interesting,” said McAllister. “91 percent agree that their fellow hunters should respect First Nations laws and customs when on First Nations territory. And 95 percent of hunters agree that people should not be hunting if they’re not prepared to eat what they kill.” http://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/bearsforever/pages/42/attachments/original/1378242553/New_Poll_ban_on_trophy_bear_hunting.pdf?1378242553

      And this report from Washington, DC and Stanford University sheds some light on the economic impacts of bear viewing and hunting. http://www.responsibletravel.org/projects/documents/Economic_Impact_of_Bear_Viewing_and_Bear_Hunting_in_GBR_of_BC.pdf

      • Dave-
        November 5, 2015 at 2:01 pm

        Did you do any research onto who funded the studies for “Bears Forever”?

        The Raincoast Alliance (anti hunting eco terrorist group)
        David Suzuki Foundation (anti hunting group)

        I wonder why the stat’s and report came out they way they did?

        As for the stats on the number of BC’ers who oppose “trophy hunting”, 805 individuals were telephone polled. Out of 4.6 million residents.

        Compelling numbers…………….

        • November 5, 2015 at 2:24 pm

          These are statistically significant in light of the random nature of the people surveyed.

          • ResidentHunter-
            November 5, 2015 at 2:38 pm

            That study has a TOTAL SAMPLE of 805 individuals from random phone number generators and interviews!

            You really think a sample size of 805 people can conclude 90% of all BC is against a bear harvest?!

            805 people who are, in all probability massively uninformed about hunting in general or know anything about wildlife management and conservation?

            I wonder how many of those 805 surveyed have ever heard of the term carrying capacity before in their life.

      • Dave-
        November 5, 2015 at 2:04 pm

        Additionally, I find it funny that you would quote statements such as ““91 percent agree that their fellow hunters should respect First Nations laws and customs when on First Nations territory.”

        You yourself are a member of a BC hunting forum are you not? If you polled hunters there, how many of them do you think would agree with that statement?

        • November 5, 2015 at 2:23 pm

          Dave, not all hunters are members of the hunting forum. I provided links to the source of these numbers in teh comments.

          • Dave-
            November 5, 2015 at 2:53 pm

            The forum you belong to, has over 17,000 members.

            The “statistically significant” number of people across the province polled tallied 805. I wonder, just wonder, of that 805 people polled, how many were hunters?

            What’s that quote? I’m sure you know the one I mean Andrew…. “There are lies, damned lies, and statistics…”

            You are starting to make yourself look foolish, with the information that you are basing your bill on… Why don’t you just admit that it’s based off of emotion and be honest about it?

            If it was truly based on science and wildlife conservation, you would do real research on the grizzly hunt, and not take the word of the Raincoast Alliance as gospel.

          • November 5, 2015 at 3:00 pm

            Raincoast have been highly critical of my bill:

            http://www.raincoast.org/2015/10/comment-pack-it-out-plan-for-grizzly-hunts-doesnt-work/

            For example. They want to shut down hunting. That is, they want to buy up Guide Outfitter tickets and tear them up.

            So when I get attacked from the extremes on one end (ban hunting) to the extremes at the other end (we love trophy hunting) then you know that the bill probably reflects the only compromise possible. And I have had many, many hunters express their support.

      • ResidentHunter-
        November 5, 2015 at 2:47 pm

        One study with authors being staff in an anti-hunting activist group. Creating moralistic, and agenda driven data. In that same academic circle they also pass around “academic papers” probing social media for hunting pictures and using academic jargon to conclude how fat are the majority of “trophy hunters”
        inside joke and a jab at the hunting community maybe?

        One study has a TOTAL SAMPLE of 805 individuals from random phone number generators and interviews.

        You really think a sample size of 805 people can conclude 90% of all BC is against a bear harvest?

        805 people who are, in all probability massively uninformed about hunting in general or know anything about wildlife management and conservation.

        I wonder how many of those 805 surveyed have ever heard of the term carrying capacity before in their life.