Dear BC Election Candidates

Photo credit: Jim Lawrence/Kootenay Reflections

Photo credit: Jim Lawrence/Kootenay Reflections

Dear BC Election Candidates,

Meet “Apple”, one of British Columbia’s iconic grizzly bears - much like the bears featured in the province’s Destination BC tourism advertisements, which promote the province as “Super, Natural”. 

Just one glance at a photo of Apple and you can see why she quickly became a favourite of locals and tourists alike, with people coming from all over to view this magnificent bear as well as portraits of her gracing local galleries, cafes and even the cover of the Wall Street Journal. Local photographer, Jim Lawrence, was one of those individuals fortunate enough to spend time with Apple over the years. He described her as wise, well-adjusted, comical and an ambassador for her species. 

For at least 12 years, Apple taught many of us about bear behaviour and coexistence. She offered a rare glimpse into the life of her species, even providing fans with the privilege of watching her raise cubs. Time and time again, guests of a local bear viewing business were left in awe of Apple and with a new appreciation of this often misunderstood species.

Photo credit: Jim Lawrence/Kootenay Reflections

Photo credit: Jim Lawrence/Kootenay Reflections

Sadly, there are others who value and interact with grizzlies quite differently. With permission from the government, these individuals embark into BC’s wild places, intent on proving their hunting prowess by gunning down a grizzly. In 2015, Apple crossed paths with one such grizzly hunter, who selfishly took her life for nothing more than a trophy. This, despite reassurances from hunters that they only target old male bears. Tragically, Apple’s two young cubs were left to fend for themselves and were spotted wandering aimlessly some time afterward, until eventually they too were gone.

As with most British Columbians, the senseless slaughter of Apple and the resulting death of her cubs, along with the annual killing of approximately 300 other grizzlies, does not sit well with me. In fact, roughly 90% of residents, myself included, oppose the hunt and support legislation to ban it. This vulnerable species has been extirpated from most of its historical range, with British Columbia as one of its last strongholds. Grizzlies face many complex pressures that threaten their survival, including food scarcity and habitat fragmentation and destruction due to human activity. While we must approach grizzly protection holistically, the most logical and feasible first step towards addressing pressures on this species is to end the grizzly hunt. 

While it may be all too easy for you to ignore polls, science and statistics, and to detach yourself from the seemingly far-removed impact of the government’s grizzly hunt, I urge you to consider Apple and her cubs, and the many bears just like them who needlessly suffer because of it. They are not out of sight, out of mind for the vast majority of British Columbians, certainly not during this election. Nor should they be for you as you seek the support of voters. Should voters elect you into office, it will become your responsibility to represent their interests, including bringing about an end to BC’s grizzly hunt.

Photo credit: Jim Lawrence/Kootenay Reflections

Photo credit: Jim Lawrence/Kootenay Reflections

Companies, unions and non-profits call on future Premier to ban grizzly trophy hunt

In an open letter to the future Premier of British Columbia, companies, unions and non profits have come together to call for a ban on the grizzly bear trophy hunt. Below is the letter and signatories. 

May 5, 2017

To the Future Premier of British Columbia,

We, the undersigned, call on the Government of British Columbia to end the trophy hunting of grizzly bears in B.C. 

The practice of hunting large, iconic animals simply so that their body parts may be mounted on walls as trophies is widely condemned around the world. Permitting hunters to kill hundreds of B.C. grizzlies per year for this purpose is detrimental not only to the bears’ populations and welfare, but also to the international image that B.C. and the rest of Canada projects to the world.

Furthermore, trophy hunting of grizzly bears has a clear negative effect on B.C.’s economy, both in terms of direct losses of opportunity for the bear-viewing industry–which brings in up to twelve times more direct revenue, and more employment to the province–and in terms of indirect losses to other tourism-related industries such as hospitality, transportation, and food.

In addition to these losses, the Government of B.C. is currently wasting taxpayer dollars on managing this economically harmful hunt, with some estimates indicating that the costs exceed the direct revenues that the hunt brings to the province.

The Government of British Columbia must act in accordance with the wishes of the over 90 percent of B.C. residents who are opposed to the trophy hunting of grizzlies, and implement an immediate moratorium on the current spring bear hunt, and then commit to a short timeline to implement a permanent end to the hunt. These actions will show the world that the province’s policies are in accordance with B.C. and Canadian values that respect nature, and they will increase tourism revenue while eliminating wasteful trophy hunt management costs.

Signed,

Sara Dubois, PhD, RPBio, Chief Scientific Officer & Senior Manager, Scientific Programs, BCSPCA

Stephanie Smith, President, BC Government and Services Employees’ Union

Barbara Murray, Bears Matter

John E. Marriott, Canadian Wildlife Photography Tours

Katherine MacRae, Executive Director, Commercial Bear Viewing Association

Dr. Faisal Moola, PhD, David Suzuki Foundation

Jefferson Bray, Owner & Manager, Great Bear Chalet Ltd.

Margaret McCullough, Founder, Grizzly Girls

Val Murray, Founder & Director, Justice for BC Grizzlies

Jim Lawrence, Kootenay Reflections Photography

Rebecca Aldworth, Executive Director, Humane Society International/Canada

LUSH Canada

Trish Boyum, Ocean Adventures

Ian McAllister, Co-founder, Pacific Wild

Chris Genovali, Executive Director, Raincoast Conservation Foundation

Caitlyn Vernon, Campaigns Director, Sierra Club BC

Lesley Fox, Executive Director, The Fur-Bearers

Thomas Reissmann, Producer & Director, The Grizzly Truth documentary

Joe Foy, National Campaign Director, The Wilderness Committee

Craig Pettitt & Wayne McCrory, Directors, Valhalla Wilderness Society

Debra Probert, Executive Director, Vancouver Humane Society

Tommy Knowles, Executive Director, Wildlife Defense League

Andrew S. Wright Ph.D., Founding Director, Willow Grove Foundation

Julie Woodyer, Campaigns Director, Zoocheck