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Animal and nature groups call for end of grizzly hunt in British Columbia

Thirty-eight animal welfare and environmental groups sign on to an open letter to the British Columbia government demanding an end to grizzly bear hunting.

A grizzly bear fishes for salmon along the Atnarko River in Tweedsmuir Provincial Park near Bella Coola, B.C. Saturday, Sept 11, 2010.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward / Metro Web Upload

A grizzly bear fishes for salmon along the Atnarko River in Tweedsmuir Provincial Park near Bella Coola, B.C. Saturday, Sept 11, 2010.

British Columbia’s impending ban on the trophy hunting of grizzly bears does not go far enough, according to 38 animal welfare and environmental groups.

Organizations like the BC SPCA, BC Nature, David Suzuki Foundation and the Humane Society of Canada have all signed onto an open letter to the B.C. government opposing the hunting of grizzly bears for meat, which will remain legal when the province’s trophy hunting ban kicks in next year.

BC Nature president Alan Burger, a wildlife biologist at the University of Victoria, says future grizzly bear hunts will still be driven not out of sustenance but sport even after trophy hunting is banned and that the province’s ban “defies logic”.

“Until now, grizzly bears have not been regarded as a meat species. The only reason someone would go out to hunt a grizzly bear is so they can get the photos and the bragging rights,” Burger said. “Suddenly, we include them as a food species when it’s actually been a trophy hunt until now does seem illogical and defies public opinion.”

The open letter, published Friday, states the groups “expect to see much trophy hunting continued under the guise of ‘meat’ hunting” and highlights the lack of scientific consensus about the population of the species, which is blue-listed as “at risk” in B.C.

Government scientists estimate there are roughly 15,000 grizzlies in the province, and 250 are hunted each year.

“The government doesn’t really know how many grizzly bears are out there,” said Burger. “But it’s more than just a population issue. It’s a moral issue and it’s an ecosystem issue. People enjoy seeing bears and having someone come and take out a bear in a place where naturalists enjoy seeing them to me is just immoral.”

Burger said he doesn’t oppose most regulated hunting, such as deer or elk, for meat.

A recent public opinion poll conducted by Insights West found 74 per cent support among British Columbians to end all grizzly hunting.

The current fall grizzly hunt ends Nov. 30.

The province’s public consultation on the proposed trophy-hunting ban remains open until Nov. 2 at www.env.gov.bc.ca/fw.

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