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Grizzly Bear Advocates Want Trophy Hunters to Shoot Bears, But With Cameras Not Guns

Grizzly Bear Advocates Want Trophy Hunters to Shoot Bears, But With Cameras Not Guns

British Columbia’s Coastal First Nations (CFN) is taking a new approach to protect grizzly bears and convince people that they are worth more alive than dead with a new program that’s inviting trophy hunters to come to the Great Bear Rainforest and shoot them.

There’s just one catch: hunters have to trade their guns for cameras.

From CFN’s standpoint the debate isn’t so much about hunting as it is about trophy hunting, or just going out and pointlessly taking an animal’s life for no reason which is something 87 percent of British Columbians who were polled last fall are against.

“Like most hunters in B.C., I hunt to feed my family,” said Heiltsuk Coastwatch Director, William Housty, in a statement. “Whether you’re First Nations or not, it’s against our common values to kill animals for fun. If anyone’s still not convinced, I encourage them to leave their guns and come see these beautiful coastal grizzlies from our perspective.”

Now, in the first of many efforts to come, CFN is holding a drawing for an all expenses paid trip to the Spirit Bear Lodge in exchange for hunters’ bear tags that includes round-trip airfare for two and “daily adventures deep into grizzly country with experienced professional guides.”

CFN issued a formal ban on trophy hunting for bears in 2012 in an effort to protect them and viewing opportunities and also in part to protect rare Spirit Bears an all-white species of black bear. Unfortunately, the ban isn’t recognized by the government of British Columbia, which still holds spring and fall hunts for grizzly and black bears in First Nations territory.

The government and some hunters continue to use the argument that grizzly hunting is sustainable and their financial contributions are funding conservation and wildlife management efforts, but CFN believes that promoting ecotourism in the area is a far more lucrative option.

According to the alliance, bear viewing in the Great Bear Rainforest generates 12 times more money for the province’s economy than bear hunting. It pointed to a recent study out of Stanford University comparing the economic value of hunting and ecotourism that drew the “overwhelming conclusion” that bear watching generates far more value for the economy than hunting does.

“It’s a fact that bears are worth more alive than they are dead,” said Kitasoo/Xai’xais Stewardship Director and Spirit Bear Lodge guide Douglas Neasloss. “You don’t have to harvest a resource to get value from a resource. Bears bring huge value to coastal ecosystems, and to my community in terms of a sustainable economy.”

There’s been some criticism and questions about whether hunters will be willing to give up coveted bear tags, but Jess Housty, an elected member of the Heiltsuk Tribal Council and board member of the Coastal First Nations, told the Vancouver Sun that people are already showing interest.

“We already have hunters reaching out to let us know they intend to participate,” she said. “Every authorization matters, and I’m raising my hands in gratitude to everyone who steps up to take leadership in protecting the bears.”

Anyone holding a tag for this fall’s hunt is being encouraged to contact the Spirit Bear Lodge.

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Photo credit: Thinkstock

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129 comments

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3:25AM PDT on Jul 14, 2014

good, thanks

7:59AM PDT on Jun 13, 2014

Any sane person with an ounce of compassion would agree this is the way to go.

1:28PM PDT on Jun 9, 2014

Dear Care2--We should get a butterfly point or two for posting to facebook and twitter etc....

1:27PM PDT on Jun 9, 2014

WONDERFUL IDEA!!!! All trophy hunting should be banned, only hunting to existence level needs for food by trained hunters that can bring down a deer with one shot should be allowed...

11:46PM PDT on Jun 7, 2014

Cameras: The only way to shoot.

5:37PM PDT on Jun 1, 2014

Petition signed.

5:31PM PDT on May 28, 2014

I only hope it can help them see the error of their ways and put away their guns for good. Like Mandy H, I don't have much confidence in these lowlife ....but you never know ... we can only wish and hope.

2:05AM PDT on May 28, 2014

Unfortunately, Canada does not value wildlife. They like to shoot all wildlife that wander near towns even though the areas have belonged to them for many generations of animals.
We would certainly be stuck if it were not for the First Nations, especially now that the premier has cut every possible department related to caring for the environment. All investments go into dirty oil, pipelines, etc.

8:14AM PDT on May 27, 2014

Thanks for sharing but sadly I don't have the same confidence in hunters as they do. I believe most hunters hurt because they enjoy feeling powerful and controlling those weaker than them. This might sound stupid but for hunters it's about the hunt, tracking a scared weaker animal though scrub and killing them is what they want which is sick. Hunting animals who are still strong and not scared isn't anywhere near as fun for them. The trophy of a photo won't show their skill and dominance over the animal like a fur or head or whatever does.

9:19PM PDT on May 26, 2014

Thanks for sharing

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