Protesters gather to speak against trophy hunting

News Provincial

A group of colourful umbrellas covered pathways surrounding the B.C. Legislature buildings on the afternoon of Feb. 15. The gathering came to speak out against trophy hunting of B.C. bears. The event lineup included Andrew Weaver, Green Party MLA; writers Lorna Crozier and Patrick Lane; environmentalist Vicky Husband; and a duo of bear tour guides.

They want Premier Clark to take trophy hunting off the table as soon as possible. Eighty-eight per cent of a representative B.C. population sample already expressed they don’t support trophy hunting. Ninety-five per cent of hunters in another poll don’t want to remove hunting in general, but would like to see an end to trophy hunting.

When hunting for sustenance, the whole of the animal is used. Trophy hunting usually results in removing the head, paws, and fur, and leaving the carcass. It is with this treatment of B.C. bears that the protesters and organizers took greatest issue.

The song “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” played through the rain at the event, as folk duo The Wilds welcomed the protesters with their dulcimer (string instrument) and cajón (a percussion instrument). As people expressed their thoughts on trophy hunting with homemade signs—even a few dogs with “bears are my friends” scrawled on fitted t-shirts—Chelsea Turner took the stage.

Turner has been living around bears her whole life. Both of her parents worked as wildlife documentarians for CBC. She has seen grizzlies, black bears, and even spirit bears in B.C.’s Great Bear Rainforest. She has followed in her parents’ footsteps and is now involved in wildlife filmmaking. Either on the screen or with a guide, Turner says, “Bear viewing is the way of the future . . . They are worth so much more to the province alive.”

Over 11 000 tourists came to visit the bears in 2012. This contributed $9.54-million to the GDP in 2012. Trophy hunting only generated $0.7-million. In the matter of the job market, an estimated 510 jobs are created thanks to the bear viewing industry, whereas the bear-hunting sector was estimated at 11.

Crozier and Lane both gave powerful readings that reflected the beauty of bears and what they felt was the senseless and vile act of trophy hunting.

The two bear guides talked of the joy they get from observing the awe in a tourist’s eyes when they first see on a bear in its natural habitat.

The speakers all said that it is up to the public to speak up against trophy hunting. They urged everyone to get involved and write a letter to their local MLA.