British Columbia

Coalition seeks to stop wildlife killing contests in British Columbia

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WDL joins a coalition of 54 environmental and animal protection groups, conservationists and scientists in calling on the government of British Columbia to put a stop to wildlife-killing contests, after learning about three such events currently taking place in the province.

In an open letter addressed to the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Doug Donaldson, the signatories expressed significant concern about the existence of contests throughout the province that are encouraging the indiscriminate killing of animals including wolves, coyotes, cougars and racoons.

In some cases, participants receive points for the type of animal killed and are competing for a cash prize. The coalition is currently aware of three separate contests, the first is a “wolf-whacking contest” hosted by Chilcotin Guns in Williams Lake; the second is a “predator tournament” hosted by the Creston Valley Rod and Gun Club; and the third is a wolf bounty being offered by the West Kootenay Outdoorsmen Club.

The coalition opposes these contests and argues they are not supported by science, nor are they ethical. While contest organizers claim their efforts are a “fun” way to protect ungulate populations by reducing predator populations, research shows that predator killing contests are ineffective and fail to address any root causes of decline. Instead, wildlife professionals suggest efforts should be invested in habitat protection and restoration.

The coalition also points to the widespread public support surrounding the ban on the grizzly bear trophy hunt, as well as the growing opposition to the province’s wolf cull program to suggest that the vast majority of British Columbians would also not support these predator killing contests.

These contests not only teach disrespect for wildlife through the indiscriminate killing of as many predators as possible for fun, but they also disregard the value of individual animals, both intrinsically and as a part of the larger ecosystem to which they belong.

The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources said in a statement that it doesn’t condone or encourage wildlife-killing contests but noted there are no rules that prevent them from being held so long as hunters are properly licensed and follow the laws. It’s our position that the government has the authority and responsibility to handle wildlife management and they permit what they condone and ban what they don’t. If they truly don’t condone these events then they should ban them.

We’re encouraging our supporters to contact the appropriate government officials and respectfully ask that predator-killing contests be banned. Contact information can be found below. You can also find contact information for your MLA and include them in your ask.

Hon. Doug Donaldson - Minster of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations & Rural Development

Email: FLNR.Minister@gov.bc.ca

Telephone: (250) 387-6240

Hon. George Heyman - Minister of Environment & Climate Change Strategy

E-mail: ENV.Minister@gov.bc.ca

Telephone: (250) 387-1187

Fish and Wildlife - Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations & Rural Development

Email: FishandWildlife@gov.bc.ca

Telephone: 1-877-855-3222

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