Orphaned grizzly bear at Grouse Mountain Wildlife Refuge.Photograph by: ASWRIGHT WWW.COLD-COAST.COM
Killing of a threatened species to satisfy a marginal industry makes no sense
A new scientific study reports that grizzly bear mortalities exceed government targets in half the areas where hunting is permitted. This earns another “ho hum” from provincial wildlife authorities.
So what’s new? When the province’s own habitat specialist first raised concerns with methodology in estimating grizzly populations and mortality rates, his bosses suppressed the study.
The province estimates 15,000 grizzlies inhabit British Columbia. Mind you, grizzly estimates seem to be whatever it takes to justify trophy hunting. In 1979, there were 6,600 grizzlies. Then, when trophy hunting was on the agenda, there were almost 17,000.
The debate over grizzlies is not a discussion of scientific evidence that contradicts hunting policy, it’s an emotional argument over lifestyle choices by trophy hunting proponents who are not really interested in science.
Presumably this why the government is comfortable saying wildlife managers don’t share the new study’s conclusions before they’ve even analyzed its evidence — although, of course, they promise to review it.
The study by six biologists from Simon Fraser University, the University of Victoria and the Raincoast Conservation Foundation reported by Larry Pynn is only the latest that will wind up gathering dust on the shelf where the provincial government puts documents it wants to forget. It has been preceded by reports from some of the world’s leading grizzly experts.
These studies gather dust not because the evidence is unconvincing but because provincial politicians are not interested in evidence-based decisions. They want justification for providing feedstock for a hunting industry that’s in steep decline.
Thirty years ago, there were almost 175,000 licensed hunters in B.C. Today, hunters’ numbers have fallen by more than half.
Clearly social values are changing.