“There’s a real variety of bears that we see there. There are bears that are very wild and others that have been [getting used to humans] for years and years,” he said. “We’ve got a bear we call Mom and … she’s had two sets of triplets over the course of my time doing photo tours there. Literally, a hunter could walk up to within 20 feet and shoot her. She has absolutely no concern for human beings at all. Very much like Big Momma. There’s a whole host of bears that we’ve named. It almost makes me sick to my stomach to think someone could go in there and shoot them.”
Mr. Marriott said the Cariboo wildlife units should remain closed because the bears are so vulnerable, and because they support a growing wildlife-viewing business that makes them more valuable alive than dead.
“This is one of the most spectacular bear-viewing places in the world. It’s on par with the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary,” he said, referring to a provincial park on B.C.’s North Coast. “This whole area where they are trying to expand this hunt is … national-park-like stuff. It’s stunningly beautiful.”
In December, the government decided to open the four wildlife management units – two in the Cariboo and two in the Kootenays – to limited spring hunting, starting in April. Garth Mowat, head of the government’s natural resource science and stewardship section in the Kootenay region, said the province routinely closes management units when game populations are threatened.