Category Archives: Magazine Article

Grizzly Group Takes Aim at Trophy Hunting, Sets Sights on Provincial Election Candidates

Jacequeline as AmbassadorJustice for BC Grizzlies supplied photo

By Judith Lavoie • Monday, August 15, 2016 – 11:15

Above the stone fireplace in the comfortable Saanich home, photos of grizzly bears are pinned in a casual collage.

Cubs are shown frolicking in the grass, a curious bear stands on his hind legs looking through a camera lens and, jarringly, at the top, is a massive grizzly lying lifeless in the grass, eyes closed, claws digging into the dirt, as two jubilant hunters smile into the camera.

The photo, typical of those found in hunting magazines that promote the chance to travel to Super, Natural B.C. to kill grizzles, provokes a visceral response among hunt opponents and a newly-formed group wants to harness that gut reaction.

Justice for B.C. Grizzlies is led by a small core of volunteers who, for years, have tried to end the trophy hunt by arguing the facts — such as the uncertainty of population numbers, studies that show bear viewing generates far more in visitor spending than bear hunting and — what should be the clincher for politicians, but, curiously seems to be ignored — polls clearly demonstrate that British Columbians are overwhelmingly against the hunt.

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Suzuki: Time to End Grisly Trophy Hunt in BC


NHL hockey player Clayton Stoner posing with dead grizzly (Coastal Guardian Watchmen)

Posted March 10, 2015 by Dr. David Suzuki in Species At Risk

Watching grizzly bears catch and eat salmon as they swim upstream to spawn is an unforgettable experience. Many people love to view the wild drama. Some record it with photos or video. But a few want to kill the iconic animals — not to eat, just to put their heads on a wall or coats on a floor.

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The Economics and Ethics of Trophy Hunting by Judith Lavoie

Focus Magazine, March 2014

Studies call into question BC Liberals’ plans to expand bear hunting.

The magic of watching black bears overturning rocks and scooping up crabs on a Tofino beach, the once-in-a-lifetime excitement of seeing a Spirit Bear near Klemtu or witnessing the awe-inspiring power of grizzlies feeding on salmon in the Great Bear Rainforest are vignettes of BC that both tourists and residents carry close to their hearts.

So it is not surprising that a study by the Center for Responsible Travel at Stanford University in Washington concludes that live bears are worth more in cold, hard cash than dead bears. Not surprising, that is, to anyone except BC’s provincial government.

Instead of boosting the profitable business of bear viewing, the government is looking at extending the length of the spring black bear hunt and is re-opening the grizzly hunt in three areas of the Kootenays and one in the Cariboo—all formerly closed because of over-hunting. 

Another indication of where provincial sympathies lie came during the first week of the spring sitting of the Legislature, when government introduced changes to the Wildlife Act—changes that will allow corporations, not just individuals, to hold guide outfitting areas, making it easier for a group of people to jointly purchase territories and reducing liability for individual owners. Assistant guides will no longer have to be licensed, allowing guide outfitters more flexibility during peak periods, something the industry says will reduce red tape.

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B.C. Grizzly Hunt Bolstered By Spurious Science by Chris Genovali

Scientists from the Raincoast Conservation Foundation, Simon Fraser University, and University of Victoria recently authored the first peer-reviewed study of British Columbia’s controversial grizzly bear management. Conclusions from the article, titled “Confronting Uncertainty in Wildlife Management: Performance of Grizzly Bear Management” and published online in the international journal PLOS ONE, cast serious doubt regarding the B.C. government’s persistent claim that “sound science” is used to manage the trophy hunt.

Using the province’s kill data to determine if B.C.’s grizzly management meets its own objectives (maintaining all human-caused kills below pre-determined limits), the scientists found that in the past decade total kills commonly exceeded limits determined by provincial policy. These “overkills” occurred at least once in half the populations open to hunting between 2001-2011. Troublingly, these overkills were particularly common for adult females, the reproductive powerhouses of the species.

Notably, Raincoast and our lawyers at Ecojustice engaged in a five-year legal battle to gain access to provincial kill data. That the B.C. government had to be compelled by the courts to grant us access is telling.

According to Raincoast biologist, SFU PhD student, and lead author Kyle Artelle, “Overkills are a serious concern because the biology of grizzly bears makes them highly vulnerable to excessive mortality. They have great difficulty recovering from population declines.”

The team of wildlife and fisheries scientists also assessed how uncertainty in management affects the likelihood of accurately detecting overkills. Given the many unknowns in management (such as the actual number of bears in hunted populations) overkills might have occurred in 70% of the cases, and gone undetected 75% of the time.

Dr. Paul Paquet, senior scientist at Raincoast and co-author, states, “We analyzed only some of the uncertainty associated with grizzly management and found it might be contributing to widespread overkills. I’m not sure how the government defines sound science, but an approach that carelessly leads to widespread overkills is less than scientifically credible.”

Dr. Chris Darimont, UVic professor and Raincoast science director, notes, “Ignoring uncertainty — in dimensions such as true population size — is like playing Russian roulette. As the history of wildlife management has shown repeatedly, the consequences of not accounting for the unknowns are grave.”

Reasonable people might expect that the findings of the PLOS ONE paper would give the province cause to rethink their obviously flawed management of the grizzly hunt. Instead, the bureaucrats responsible for overseeing the trophy hunting of B.C.’s grizzlies reacted with what appears to be a pushback against the exposure of their unsound policies in a prominent scientific journal.

As such, they decided to double down on their pseudo-science and expand the grizzly hunt in 2014 by re-opening two management units in the Cariboo and Kootenay regions that had been closed because of hunting overkill. In fact, the Kootenay has been identified in the PLOS ONE paper as one of the regions that has most consistently experienced overkills.

In defending their decision to expand the hunt, the province proclaimed, “anecdotal information from various stakeholders suggests that the grizzly bear population has increased.” The “stakeholders” they refer to are, of course, first and foremost trophy hunters, who happen to be the B.C. government’s preferred constituency when it comes to wildlife management. And so, the pretense of the province’s so-called sound science is exposed by the admission of their inclusion of anecdotal evidence as justification for expanding the recreational killing of grizzly bears.

Provincial bureaucrats and career civil servants have served as the shameless enablers of an indefensible activity, causing an untold amount of pain and suffering amongst large carnivores in B.C. Ironically, while poll after poll shows an overwhelming majority of British Columbians are opposed to the grizzly hunt, these unaccountable taxpayer-funded bureaucrats and civil servants justify their existence by facilitating the recreational killing of grizzlies, and devising an elaborate ever-changing rationalization for the sport hunting of bears.

Although ongoing attempts are made to dress up the province’s motivations in the trappings of their proverbial sound science, they are clearly driven by an anachronistic ideology that is disconcertingly fixated on killing as a legitimate and necessary tool of wildlife management.

Government policy makers and their bureaucratic minions who manage the grizzly hunt are not interested in rigorous science, but are keenly interested in maintaining the status quo for reasons having to do with power and control. Scientific management, by definition, requires considering and incorporating any and all new evidence as it arises. The province’s contempt for the PLOS ONE paper as shown by their willful disregard of the best available peer reviewed science is inexcusable.

B.C. government biologists subsequently published an article in PLOS ONE, which provided new estimates of grizzly populations throughout the province. The provincial press release publicizing the paper made the spurious claim that the “study re-affirms that B.C. grizzlies are being sustainably managed.” The study, however, was neither designed to test this nor carried out in a way that provided additional insight into the sustainability of provincial bear management.

Moreover, their publication neither affirmed nor contradicted our work, but further demonstrated that considerable uncertainty remains in estimating how many bears actually occur in a given management area. This uncertainty about the number of bears, combined with questionable but indispensable information concerning reproductive rates and unreported mortalities, clearly demands that provincial managers responsible for the hunt should err on the side of caution, rather than carelessly assuming all is well when it is not.

A version of this article previously appeared in the Invermere Valley Echo.
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2013, Moon Magazine Interview with Charlie Russell: Life Among Grizzlies

 Charlie Russell with Biscuit

Charlie Russell | Life among grizzlies or 

Charlie Russell grew up in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains, just outside of Waterton Lakes National Park. His father was famed guide and outfitter Andy Russell. Charlie and his brothers inherited their father’s fascination with wilderness and its inhabitants, including grizzlies. His brothers became biologists, studying bears and caribou. Charlie, however, was interested in studying bears from a sociological perspective, seeking to understand bear behavior—particularly grizzly behavior vis-à-vis humans. He studied bears [...]