BC's trophy hunt is no April fools joke

A grizzly bear chases a salmon, near Stewart, British Columbia. Photo credit: Sam Edmonds

A grizzly bear chases a salmon, near Stewart, British Columbia.
Photo credit: Sam Edmonds

April 1st is a bittersweet day for us at Wildlife Defence League. Two years ago today, we founded the organization on the same day that the annual spring trophy hunt for black bears and grizzly opened in British Columbia. It was by no means a coincidence.

Armed with high-powered rifles and even higher-powered egos, trophy hunters will make their way into the forests throughout the province today to kill grizzly bears and black bears for trophy, just as the animals emerge from hibernation. At a time when these magnificent creatures are most vulnerable, the Liberal Party of British Columbia sanctions their slaughter. To make matters worse, independent science has shown that the trophy hunt for grizzly bears is unsustainable and population estimates are inaccurate. In addition, the hunt threatens one of the province’s highest revenue generating industries.

Eco-tourism attracts thousands of people to British Columbia each year. They come to see wildlife, old-growth forests, mountains and the vast coastline of the Pacific Ocean. Bear viewing brings in millions of dollars to the provincial economy and creates jobs in communities where the unemployment rate is high. The trophy hunt directly threatens this sustainable industry.

Julius Strauss, co-owner of the Grizzly Bear Ranch in the West Kootenays, has had to cancel his spring tours to view bears this year for the first time in the company’s history because he was encountering resident trophy hunters in areas where he would take his guests. Strauss, in an interview with National Post, stated that, “We can’t, with a clear conscience, take guests into a valley where bears are being hunted.” This serves as proof that co-existence between the two industries is not possible.

Is it not ironic that the opening of the spring hunt falls on the same day as April Fools? In reality, those who look foolish are the BC Liberals, who continue to support the trophy hunting of grizzly bears, despite the fact that 95% of residents are against it. In a province that touts itself as ‘Super Natural’ to tourists, the trophy hunt stands in stark contrast.

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