Article in Vancouver Sun:
Chelsea Turner met her first bears at six months of age.
That is when the daughter of acclaimed wildlife documentary filmmakers Jeff and Sue Turner of Princeton, B.C., began making forays into the wilderness in search of grizzlies, black bears and the famed white Spirit Bears.
“My upbringing was unique, travelling to remote wilderness locations,” Turner said in an interview Friday. “I grew up seeing bears all the time. My mom would pack me around on her back when they were going out filming. They didn’t leave me behind. They took me along everywhere.”
Jeff and Sue Turner have produced more than 30 documentaries over the past 25 years for outlets such as the BBC, PBS, and CBC, including the four-part series Wild Canada, which airs starting March 13.
Over the years, Chelsea Turner came to know bears intimately as individuals, and as a young teenager starting filming with her own videocamera. “I was entranced. When you get to know them and look in their eyes, you see so much intelligence and personality.”
Today, at age 22 and working with her parents professionally at filmmaking, Turner determined the time was right to publicly oppose bear trophy hunting.
“I realized that when we go out on location this spring it will be the same time as the spring trophy hunt starts again. It’s just appalling to me. It breaks my heart to think that one day we’re working with these bears and shooting them with our cameras, and the very next day trophy hunters can show up and shoot them with their high-powered rifles.”
Turner is organizing a rally on Saturday at 2 p.m. outside the legislature in Victoria that she hopes will attract hundreds in person and more via social media, with Tweets and text messages displayed on a three-by-four-metre screen (for details, see bearmatters.com). Guest speakers will include Green Party MLA Andrew Weaver and Vicky Husband, an Order of B.C. recipient and former campaigner with Sierra Club BC.
Turner said she is appalled that Premier Christy Clark has ignored overwhelming public sentiment — including that of Coastal First Nations and tourism companies — opposed to bear trophy hunting and has decided to expand grizzly hunting this year in the Chilcotin and Kootenay regions.
“This is completely the wrong direction we need to be moving in,” Turner said.
The Guide Outfitters Association of B.C., a trophy hunting lobby group, said in a statement that the grizzly hunt “is the most tightly controlled hunt on the planet” and there is more than enough space in B.C. for bear hunting and bear viewing to coexist.
“An overabundance of older male bears can be a limiting factor for bear populations, as they are known to prey” on young cubs, the association said.
Just 10 per cent of British Columbians support trophy hunting, while 73 per cent are in favour of hunting for meat, an Insights West poll found in 2013.
A McAllister poll, also from last year, showed 87 per cent support an end to bear trophy hunting in the Great Bear Rainforest. The poll found that 92 per cent agree that hunters should respect First Nations laws and customs when on their traditional territory, while 90 per cent believe people should hunt only if they intend to eat their kill.
Grizzlies are almost exclusively killed as trophies and not for their meat.
NHL defenceman Clayton Stoner of the Minnesota Wild shot a large male grizzly last year, angering First Nations who posted a sign in the Kwatna River estuary saying the area was off-limits to trophy hunting. Stoner had a legal right to hunt the bear because the province does not recognize the ban imposed by aboriginal groups.
The province estimates there are 120,000 to 160,000 black bears and 15,000 grizzlies in B.C. While grizzlies are a species of special concern, there are no conservation concerns for black bears.
In 2012, non-residents killed 1,141 back bears and 69 grizzlies in B.C., while residents killed 2,767 black bears and 181 grizzlies. Non-resident hunters must be guided under B.C. law.