VANCOUVER — More than 90 per cent of British Columbians oppose the province's annual grizzly bear trophy hunt. A new toolkit released today by the David Suzuki Foundation and University of Victoria's Environmental Law Centre will help the public participate in government decisions regarding the hunt. It provides information on how hunting decisions are made by government bureaucrats, such as the release of grizzly hunting tags and quotas and a calendar highlighting dates when these decisions are made so the public can intervene in an effective and timely way.
"The B.C. government manages the grizzly bear hunt behind closed doors and without oversight. We developed this toolkit to change that and to help concerned citizens better understand how the government runs the trophy hunt and how they can help stop it," said the David Suzuki Foundation's director for Ontario and Northern Canada and grizzly bear policy expert, Faisal Moola.
Independent bear biologists continue to express concerns that too many grizzly bears are being killed in the province and that the government is not doing enough to reduce mortality. The toolkit outlines how people can help by pressuring the B.C. government to reduce the number of hunting tags issued to trophy hunters and to close areas to trophy hunting. Government records show that 289 grizzly bears were killed in 2015, including in the Great Bear Rainforest, which was officially designated part of the Queen's Commonwealth Canopy Network by Prince William on a recent visit to the pristine region.
First Nations banned trophy hunting in the Great Bear Rainforest out of concern for the species. "It's not a part of our culture to kill an animal for sport and hang it on a wall," said Jessie Housty, a councillor with the Heiltsuk Nation. "When we go hunting it's for sustenance purposes, not trophy hunting," she added.
Environmental Law Centre legal director Calvin Sandborn said involving the public in government decisions is critical if we are to succeed in protecting wildlife. "First Nations and the public have information, expertise and wisdom that can enrich government decisions. Government needs to hear — and heed — British Columbians who want to restrict the trophy hunt. This toolkit will make that possible," Sandborn said.
B.C.'s auditor general is currently reviewing the grizzly bear hunt and other government policies related to grizzlies.
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Faisal Moola, David Suzuki Foundation
Theresa Beer, David Suzuki Foundation
Calvin Sandborn, UVic Environmental Law Centre