Someone commented to me recently, “Bears haven’t changed one bit. It’s people that have changed. Bears are still doing what bears have done for thousands of years”. It’s so true.
Wild animals are essentially ownerless in their natural settings. But from early days when nobility and settler groups assumed land title, they also laid claim to all that lived upon those lands. This essentially continues today in the form of provincial authority over Crown lands, which lumps wildlife in with oil, gas, trees, minerals; every form of “resource” extraction.
Consider these observations:
The majority of BC residents are opposed to trophy hunting of Grizzly Bears. Yet other than a short, four-month moratorium on grizzly hunting by the NDP government in 2001, trophy hunting has continued in BC. The government is assumed to hold Crown* land “in public trust” for present and future generations but clearly does not have social license to kill grizzlies. It may even be considered a violation of public trust.
* It must be noted that ~ 95% of the land base in BC is unceded territories of First Nations who take issue with the concept of Crown lands.
Animal law is a field of legal practice that is still young and growing. Few lawyers represent the interests of animals but those who do, do so because they believe that sentient beings deserve their natural liberty and are not property or “chattel”.
The now famous CREST (The Center for Responsible Travel) report of 2014 assessed bear viewing in the Great Bear Rainforest at 12 times more profitable than bear (trophy) hunting. Grizzlies more than “earn their keep” in the province.