87 per cent of British Columbia residents oppose hunt, survey shows, Vancouver Sun January 31, 2014 3:37 PM
Citing strong public demand, the provincial government is moving ahead with plans to reform liquor laws in ways that were once unthinkable: retail sales in grocery stores, easing of regulations to permit parents to bring children into establishments serving drinks, opening restrictions on the discounting of alcoholic beverages during Happy Hour.
So if public demand is such a key driver in changing the way government does things, why isn’t the province moving swiftly to ban trophy hunting of grizzly bears? Surveys — real opinion polls, not self-selected posts to a government website or submissions from stakeholders with a vested interest — show the vast majority of us are strongly opposed to the practice and its sanction by provincial authorities.
(Bears Matter note: Send Letter to Premier Clark:http://tinyurl.com/ban-grizzly-hunt-2014 and go to and Like and Share: www.facebook.com/SaveBCBears re: Feb 15 at 2pm Rally in Victoria at the steps of the Legislature Bldg)
Popular support for trophy hunting of grizzly bears is now in free-fall and the vast majority of British Columbians want government to put a stop to it.
In 2008, 73 per cent of us were against the hunt. By 2013 the opposition had risen to 87 per cent. Furthermore, a whopping 91 per cent of the province’s hunters agree that where First Nations impose hunting bans or restrictions within their traditional territories, hunters should abide by those wishes and by any traditional laws or customs, a reminder the majority of homegrown hunters are ethical, thoughtful and sensitive to the issues.
It’s equally important to remember it’s not hunting to which so many British Columbians take exception, it’s a particular and limited kind of hunting that is not about obtaining wild meat in a sustainable, environmentally sound way, but is about killing large predators for purposes of self-gratification and self-aggrandizement.
Now we have another study that indicates our pig-headed and intransigent government is on the wrong side of the public’s desires with respect to its peculiar enthusiasm for endorsing trophy hunting of a species that has already been extirpated from much of its range.
The study corroborates what much of the public has long been saying. Grizzly bears are more valuable alive than dead and decorating the wall of a trophy hunter. It’s not the kind of anecdotal, non-scientific, back-of-the-envelope survey the provincial government uses to justify its enthusiasm for liquor law reform.
True, the study received funding support from a couple of environmental groups — Tides Canada and The Nature Conservancy (U.S.) — but it adheres to Stanford University’s rigorous academic standards and applies the same methodology used by Statistics Canada to determine its GDP estimates for other industry sectors.
It found overwhelming evidence that tourists, both domestic and foreign, who flock to view grizzly bears in their native habitat, provide far greater economic benefits in terms of employment and tax revenue for government than trophy hunting. To be precise, companies providing bear viewing services generated 12 times as much visitor spending as trophy hunting of grizzlies did. In total, it found visitor spending by bear watchers contributed $15.1 million to the provincial economy while guided resident and non-resident hunters contributed only $1.2 million. Organized bear viewing generated 11 times more direct revenue for the B.C. government than did the activities of guide outfitters.
But the findings become even more damning for government policy. The researchers discovered bear watching companies hired almost 50 employees for every job created by guide-outfitters leading trophy hunts and for every trophy hunter more than 60 people come to watch bears.
In addition, the study casts doubt on government methodology in arriving at economic figures used to justify the hunt. The province says resident hunter expenditures reached $230 million in 2012. The independent study suggests the real figure is probably far lower. It notes resident hunter expenditures were estimated at only $70 million a decade earlier but that from 2003-13, sales of hunting licences show that the number of hunters has fallen by 50 per cent, which would mean that half as many licensed hunting enthusiasts suddenly began spending three times as much, a dubious assertion at best.
“People asked for change. Citizens asked for change. We want to deliver that,” Premier Christy Clark said in talking about reform of liquor laws not so long ago. Well, citizens are asking for change in the trophy hunting of grizzly bears, too. We want it to stop.
Given the economic benefits from the bear-viewing industry are so much greater and so much more sustainable; that the brief seasonal employment provided by a tiny cadre of guide-outfitters is so marginal; that the revenue claims for the hunt are so dubious; and that we don’t exactly have a vast surplus of grizzlies — even at the most generous estimate, humans out-number the bears by about 270-1 — why, exactly is the province so reluctant to do what British Columbians want done on this file?
At very least, restore the moratorium on grizzly hunting that was arbitrarily lifted when the Liberals came to power. Better yet, ban the hunt and move on.
Bears Matter note: Feb 15 at 2pm a Rally at the steps of the B.C.’s Legislature to Stop the Trophy Killing of Grizzlies. Pls go to www.facebook.com/SaveBCBears and Like and Share.