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:
March 19, 2018
Henry Heller
The Moment of Trump
John Davis
Pristine Buildings, Tarnished Architect
Uri Avnery
The Fake Enemy
Patrick Cockburn
The Fall of Afrin and the Next Phase of the Syrian War
Nick Pemberton
The Democrats Can’t Save Us
Nomi Prins 
Jared Kushner, RIP: a Political Obituary for the President’s Son-in-Law
Georgina Downs
The Double Standards and Hypocrisy of the UK Government Over the ‘Nerve Agent’ Spy Poisoning
Dean Baker
Trump and the Federal Reserve
Colin Todhunter
The Strategy of Tension Towards Russia and the Push to Nuclear War
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
US Empire on Decline
Ralph Nader
Ahoy America, Give Trump a Taste of His Own Medicine Starting on Trump Imitation Day
Robert Dodge
Eliminate Nuclear Weapons by Divesting from Them
Laura Finley
Shame on You, Katy Perry
Weekend Edition
March 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Michael Uhl
The Tip of the Iceberg: My Lai Fifty Years On
Bruce E. Levine
School Shootings: Who to Listen to Instead of Mainstream Shrinks
Mel Goodman
Caveat Emptor: MSNBC and CNN Use CIA Apologists for False Commentary
Paul Street
The Obama Presidency Gets Some Early High Historiography
Kathy Deacon
Me, My Parents and Red Scares Long Gone
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Rexless Abandon
Andrew Levine
Good Enemies Are Hard To Find: Therefore Worry
Jim Kavanagh
What to Expect From a Trump / Kim Summit
Ron Jacobs
Trump and His Tariffs
Joshua Frank
Drenched in Crude: It’s an Oil Free For All, But That’s Not a New Thing
Gary Leupp
What If There Was No Collusion?
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: Bernard Fall Dies on the Street Without Joy
Robert Fantina
Bad to Worse: Tillerson, Pompeo and Haspel
Brian Cloughley
Be Prepared, Iran, Because They Want to Destroy You
Richard Moser
What is Organizing?
Scott McLarty
Working Americans Need Independent Politics
Rohullah Naderi
American Gun Violence From an Afghan Perspective
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Why Trump’s Tariff Travesty Will Not Re-Industrialize the US
Ted Rall
Democrats Should Run on Impeachment
Robert Fisk
Will We Ever See Al Jazeera’s Investigation Into the Israel Lobby?
Kristine Mattis
Superunknown: Scientific Integrity Within the Academic and Media Industrial Complexes
John W. Whitehead
Say No to “Hardening” the Schools with Zero Tolerance Policies and Gun-Toting Cops
Edward Hunt
UN: US Attack On Syrian Civilians Violated International Law
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Iraq Outside History
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: The Long Hard Road
Victor Grossman
Germany: New Faces, Old Policies
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
The Iraq Death Toll 15 Years After the US Invasion
Binoy Kampmark
Amazon’s Initiative: Digital Assistants, Home Surveillance and Data
Chuck Collins
Business Leaders Agree: Inequality Hurts The Bottom Line
Jill Richardson
What We Talk About When We Talk About “Free Trade”
Eric Lerner – Jay Arena
A Spark to a Wider Fire: Movement Against Immigrant Detention in New Jersey
Negin Owliaei
Teachers Deserve a Raise: Here’s How to Fund It