Editorial: Grizzly hunting must end in PAs in Great Bear Rainforest of British Columbia

It almost reads like an April Fools’ Day joke. You can hunt grizzly bears, for sport, in the new protected areas of the Great Bear Rainforest. But sadly it’s not a joke—the spring hunt started on April 1 and even the protected areas are open to hunting.

That day I was on a conference call with members of the Coastal Guardian Watchmen Network, First Nations from the central and north coast who are the eyes and ears of their territories. There were jokes and laughter, but the tone turned serious when they spoke about the need to end grizzly bear hunting. I could hear the frustration, anger, and concern in their voices.

Imagine taking your family, grandparents and children included, to a camp in the woods. And then imagine everyone being scared to leave the camp because you can hear shots ringing out nearby. Imagine that you are researching the population of grizzly bears, and you fear that you might be shot by accident as you hike up the creeks where salmon spawn and bears linger. Imagine that you just spent years at negotiating tables to set aside large areas for the protection of ecosystems, and that you have plans to set up a bear viewing business, and now you see people going into these protected areas to shoot bears. Imagine that your people had most of their land and rights taken away when the coast was settled by Europeans and it is only recently that you are once again being recognized as the governments you rightfully are—but even now when you oppose trophy hunting in your territories the provincial government isn’t listening.

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