FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

B.C.’s Bloody Grizzly Hunt

I went “undercover” once with a European television producer to the workshop of a taxidermist-cum-trophy hunter on Vancouver Island. The producer and I had just spent a couple of days watching grizzly bears on British Columbia’s central coast. With my baseball cap pulled down low, I entered the taxidermy workshop. I was there to observe a somewhat arcane aspect of the trophy hunting world.

As the taxidermist opened the door, a chemical smell came wafting outside; it was reminiscent of the embalming fluids used by morticians. The first thing I saw looking past him was a black bear mounted on a platform of river rock. The black bear was on all fours in a contrived stance that suggested it was about to take a step forward. On the bear’s right, near the front of the platform was a mounted river otter. The taxidermist explained it was for a client in Texas.

The producer appeared a bit taken aback, but she was game and so began directing a steady stream of questions at the taxidermist. While they engaged in the interview, I wandered off to take a look at the two grizzly bears “in progress” on the other side of the room.

The two bears were positioned side by each, rearing up on their hind legs, replete with the clichéd baring of teeth that is meant to show menace. Upon closer inspection I could still see the bullet holes.

As I rejoined the living, the taxidermist was relating how he had just bagged his first grizzly on a recent hunting trip to a coastal area located within the Great Bear Rainforest. He spoke of how he had looked the bear in the eyes before killing it. I thought about all the times I had observed large carnivores in the wild, often close enough to see that fire in their eyes, as the father of wildlife ecology Aldo Leopold described it. Zoologist James Karr has characterized it as the fire peculiar to living things.

We moved into the taxidermist’s showroom, which was full of finished products. It seemed to contain virtually every species that is allowed to be hunted in coastal B.C. As far as I could tell, there was a full compliment of top predators, with the exception of wolverines. There was also a stack of black bear hides that looked a couple of feet high.

We finally bid the taxidermist farewell and drove to the local airport. The producer and I sat silently in the embarking area and pondered the last 72 hours we had just spent with bears, both alive and dead.

That the province continues to permit grizzly bears—especially coastal grizzlies, which are often sitting targets—to be shot and killed for sport in our parks and protected areas is not only anachronistic from a wildlife management perspective, but it is ethically lamentable as well.

The reality is that you can kill coastal bears quickly via trophy hunting or kill them slowly by denying them their life requisites through destruction of their habitat and overexploitation of the salmon on which they depend. Sadly, one can only expect the situation for bears to deteriorate further as industrial activities intensified by climate disruption devastate more forests and salmon stocks.

Ironically, the grizzly, a species once regarded as a threat to our survival, is turning out to be a test of how likely we are to achieve sustainability of the elements that also sustain us—forests and salmon.

The Great Bear Almanac by Gary Brown, a thorough reference book on grizzlies and other bears, states, “bears are highly intelligent and individualistic…and are capable of nearly as many responses in a given circumstance as a human. Some biologists believe the highly adaptable brown bear is intelligent enough to be ranked with primates.”

What does it say about us, as the human species, that we have been unable to peacefully co-exist with this magnificent and powerful animal? Why can’t we find a way to accommodate both our needs and those of the “great bear”?

Recreational hunters, governments, and conservationists will likely continue to argue about the status of bears, but what matters most in the grizzly hunting debate is that killing these magnificent animals for sport, trophy, and profit has no place in today’s society.

Poll after poll has shown that most British Columbians agree, but unfortunately the will of the people will be ignored once again as the spring coastal grizzly hunt resumed on April 1.

CHRIS GENOVALI is the executive director of Raincoast Conservation Society. He can be reached at: chris@raincoast.or

More articles by:

Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
Nick Pemberton
Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
Did Donald Get The Memo? Trump’s VA Secretary Denounces ‘Veteran as Victim’ Stereotyping
Andrew Levine
The Tulsi Gabbard Factor
John W. Whitehead
The Danger Within: Border Patrol is Turning America into a Constitution-Free Zone
Dana E. Abizaid
Kafka’s Grave: a Pilgrimage in Prague
Rebecca Lee
Punishment Through Humiliation: Justice For Sexual Assault Survivors
Dahr Jamail
A Planet in Crisis: The Heat’s On Us
John Feffer
Trump Punts on Syria: The Forever War is Far From Over
Dave Lindorff
Shut Down the War Machine!
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: Student Voices of the Los Angeles Education Revolt  
Mark Ashwill
The Metamorphosis of International Students Into Honorary US Nationalists: a View from Viet Nam
Ramzy Baroud
The Moral Travesty of Israel Seeking Arab, Iranian Money for its Alleged Nakba
Ron Jacobs
Allen Ginsberg Takes a Trip
Jake Johnston
Haiti by the Numbers
Binoy Kampmark
No-Confidence Survivor: Theresa May and Brexit
Victor Grossman
Red Flowers for Rosa and Karl
Cesar Chelala
President Donald Trump’s “Magical Realism”
Christopher Brauchli
An Education in Fraud
Paul Bentley
The Death Penalty for Canada’s Foreign Policy?
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Not to Love NATO
Louis Proyect
Breaking the Left’s Gay Taboo
Kani Xulam
A Saudi Teen and Freedom’s Shining Moment
Ralph Nader
Bar Barr or Regret this Dictatorial Attorney General
Jessicah Pierre
A Dream Deferred: MLK’s Dream of Economic Justice is Far From Reality
Edward J. Martin
Glossip v. Gross, the Eighth Amendment and the Torture Court of the United States
Chuck Collins
Shutdown Expands the Ranks of the “Underwater Nation”
Paul Edwards
War Whores
Peter Crowley
Outsourcing Still Affects Us: This and AI Worker Displacement Need Not be Inevitable
Alycee Lane
Trump’s Federal Government Shutdown and Unpaid Dishwashers
Martha Rosenberg
New Questions About Ritual Slaughter as Belgium Bans the Practice
Nicky Reid
Panarchy as Full Spectrum Intersectionality
Jill Richardson
Hollywood’s Fat Shaming is Getting Old
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Wide Sphere of Influence Within Folklore and Social Practices
Richard Klin
Dial Israel: Amos Oz, 1939-2018
David Rovics
Of Triggers and Bullets
David Yearsley
Bass on Top: the Genius of Paul Chambers
Elliot Sperber
Eddie Spaghetti’s Alphabet
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail