In February, grizzly bear hunting in British Columbia (BC), Canada was suspended. With as few as 4-6000 grizzlies left in the Province-the heart of the grizzly's remaining range-the hunting moratorium was designed to allow completion of research needed to secure a future for this beautiful animal. The hunt ban was a truly popular and precautionary act, winning applause from independent scientists, conservation and First Nations groups, over 75% of British Columbians and even the UK Parliament.
Unfortunately, as was noted in the Spring AWI Quarterly, Vol. 50, No. 2, in a knee-jerk political reaction designed to appease the grizzly hunting community the BC Liberal Party promised to overturn the moratorium if elected. Having duly won the election in May, 100 grizzlies will now be shot this Fall alone.
In so doing, BC has broken its promise to protect this internationally important species, and if foreign hunters-mainly the US and Europe-are allowed to export their grizzly trophies, Canada will breach its international obligations to CITES-the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
Already BC is feeling the economic backlash. Tour operators are aghast at the decision, with one BC based Eco-tourism company reporting that 76 angry clients have already cancelled bookings because of the resumption of the hunt. He stated that "They want to come here to see living wildlife, and they say they won't go to a place that is so uncivilized they allow bears to be killed for fun."
Even though the hunt has resumed, over 150 grizzlies will still be alive at the end of the year that without the campaign against the hunt would otherwise have been shot. The hunt has also remained closed in 23 more areas than last year, so this is very much a case of two steps forward and one back, but the bottom line is that even one grizzly being shot this year is too many.
|ACTION If you feel that grizzly hunting damages British Columbia's appeal as a tourist destination, please write to the BC Government saying so, and ask for the Premier to reconsider his decision to allow this officially at risk species to be put under the gun again.