Photo: The grizzly truth about the trophy hunt

The Foundation is working to end B.C.’s grizzly trophy hunt. (photo Jo Ann Liebe)

By Ian Hanington

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Although most of us wouldn't want to run into a grizzly bear in the wilderness, we do want to see them prosper in their home territories. And most of us would at least expect them to be safe in parks and protected areas — but that's often not the case.

Despite their importance in nature and their vulnerability to human impacts, grizzlies remain unprotected in Canada. And in British Columbia, hunters are allowed to kill this threatened animal for sport. The trophy-hunting season for grizzlies and other bears is open now, just as the bears are emerging from hibernation.

B.C. is home to as many as half of Canada's grizzlies. In other parts of the world, including Western Europe, Mexico, and the continental U.S., grizzlies and other bears have been driven to extinction or are on the verge of disappearing.

The David Suzuki Foundation recently acquired and analyzed thousands of kill records collected by the B.C. government. In our report, Ensuring a future for Canada's grizzly bears, we show that close to 10,000 grizzlies have been legally hunted in B.C. - accounting for 88 per cent of all human-caused grizzly deaths — since the government first began tracking kills in the late 1970s.

Many hunters come from the United States and Europe, where it is illegal to hunt bears, or populations no longer exist.

Our research also identifies more than 60 provincial parks where grizzly bears are hunted for sport.

The Foundation has shared its findings with the B.C. government and has asked the government to impose an immediate moratorium on the trophy hunt, to establish no-kill zones where hunting is prohibited, and to implement a law to protect all endangered species in the province. We are presenting our findings to the public as well, through newspapers, TV, radio, and our website. We've helped more than 50,000 people write letters to the B.C. government calling for a halt to the trophy hunt.

Public outcry and conservation concerns have led to a cancellation of the grizzly hunt in Alberta this year. With this momentum, we are working to end the hunt in B.C., where most grizzlies live.

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