We can’t let British Columbia’s grizzly bears disappear.

2013-11-07

 |  The Starfish

The Starfish


Photo by iwona_kellie | flickr.com

Photo by iwona_kellie | flickr.com

A new study by researchers in British Columbia has shown that the
province’s grizzly bear hunting program isn’t as sustainable as was once
thought
. These findings agree with the sentiment expressed by the European
Union in 2004 when importing grizzly trophies from B.C. was banned; and they
raise some serious questions about what exactly the people in charge of issuing
permits are thinking.

The B.C. government’s position is that the number of permits
sold each year is based on a scientific approach to managing the resource.
Completely setting aside the fact that scientists at the University of Victoria
and Simon Fraser University disagree (the province’s numbers don’t factor in
collisions with vehicles, unreported kills by farmers, and a host of other
factors contributing to bear mortality), one is left to ask the question of why
bears are considered a harvestable resource at all.

Chalk it up to human arrogance. For a long time, people have
held the view that we own everything on the planet and we are allowed to take
what we want. Things only exist if we allow them to exist. It is time to put
these ideas behind us. If a particular bear poses a real threat to human life,
it absolutely needs to be managed; but going out into the woods to find a bear
that has never harmed anyone and to kill it for the sole purpose of feeling
like a superhero and acquiring a new rug is barbaric and ignorant.

Why are hunting permits even granted for grizzly bears in
the year 2013? Shouldn’t the people making these decisions listen to the
science that would tell them there is a problem with wiping out an apex
predator (as the data suggests they are on the road to doing)? The only apparent
reasons for this hunt are that people are willing to pay money for the
privilege of hunting a bear and that a small portion of the electorate are
vocal hunters who will make trouble for any politicians that oppose their
interests. It is important to note that this portion even represents a minority
of hunters.

At some point, the rest of us (the vast majority) who
believe that having grizzly bears exist in the wild in British Columbia is important have to say
that enough is enough. The moment
that last wild grizzly in the province is shot, B.C. will become a different
place. Far from the image that so many people have of a province living with
and appreciating the wild out-of-doors that gives it its identity, B.C. will
become a place where ignorance, arrogance, and stubbornness trump environmental
responsibility and common sense.

It is up to the people we elect to make good decisions
informed by sound science and to exercise caution if things even begin to look
slightly sketchy. Right now in B.C., that isn’t happening and it should be
making more people angry. Most people care about the integrity of nature and
value grizzly bears simply for existing. Ask any of the outfitters in the
province that run grizzly bear viewing tours and they will tell you that people
who come to the province to spend tourism dollars in the hope of seeing
something majestic and impressive contribute just as much, if not more, than
the province gets from allowing people to kill bears.

It is time to put a stop to mismanagement and hold decision-makers
accountable before it is too late. If grizzly bears disappear from the forests
of B.C., everyone in the province will have blood on their hands. Politicians
and bureaucrats cannot be allowed to put it there.