As a North Vancouver mother of 3, I love our beautiful natural environment in British Columbia. Our magnificent grizzly bears are an iconic species and tourists from around the world come here for the opportunity to view them in the wild. We in B.C. host some of North America’s last remaining places where large predators and their prey play out their millennia-old roles. Grizzlies are an important “umbrella” species. Landscapes that support healthy Grizzly bear populations will be able to sustain many other species. Grizzly bears play a key role in maintaining healthy ecosystems by distributing salmon nutrients into forests and transporting seeds. They are an important part of the culture of First Nations People living in B.C. I personally love and respect our grizzly bears and the barbaric practice of trophy hunting must end. I was chosen to be an Olympic torchbearer in the 2010 Winter Olympics for my volunteer stewardship of wild salmon and their ecosystems for over 20 years. I am so proud to be a Canadian and a British Columbian. But I, and over 91% of my fellow British Columbians, are not proud of our trophy hunt, are disgusted by it and want it to stop. Now is the time to listen to the public who share my values. I want our children and their children to be able to view majestic grizzlies in the wild. The hunt is not sustainable : economically, socially, environmentally or morally. Please join me and speak for the grizzlies! ~ Mary-Sue Atkinson, North Vancouver ~
Growing up, my parents had a hobby farm with a variety of farm animals. We loved them all like pets and we did everything possible to make sure they were healthy and safe. I’ve never known anything in my life but to care deeply for animals. Watching the local news one evening in 2013, I learned about the BC trophy hunt and how a hockey player had killed a grizzly bear and then proudly posed for photos with its bloody severed head and paws. I was disgusted and horrified. I thought that trophy hunting was something that was going on somewhere else in the world. I didn’t imagine that in Canada, in my home province of BC, it was actually legal to kill these beautiful animals for no reason other than to have their head or hide. I wanted to help the bears and I made a pact with myself to become active in the effort to end this archaic practice. Over the last several years, I’ve met and aligned myself with many others who also want to see the trophy hunt ended. I’ve signed many petitions, written letters to our leaders, written letters to newspapers, and I talk to everyone I can about this issue in order to bring it to the forefront. I have only ever met one or two people who don’t think trophy killing is wrong, most people agree right away that it is reprehensible and should be ended. I agree and believe that ending it is the morally right thing to do. ~ Jacqueline Hohmann, Surrey ~
I can imagine a day when there is a parade in front of the Provincial Legislature when the last grizzly bear has been shot and the people demonstrating will in fact be mourning that this keystone species so fundamental to the ecology of the Province’s forests no longer roams the wild areas. People will say, ‘How could that have happened? Why did the government not stop the hunting of these animals when they knew there was no economic, social, environmental or moral reason to sanction their mindless slaughter?’ I can also imagine a parade in front of the Provincial Legislature when the last grizzly bear has been shot and the people will be celebrating because hunting of this apex predator has been stopped. We will cheer that the will of the people has been heard and grizzly bears will continue to honour us with their presence. My name is Craig Smith and I believe we have the power to choose the future of the grizzly bear. ~ Craig Smith, Richmond ~
It’s 1996 and my husband and I have been reading Paul St. Pierre’s The Chilcotin Holiday. We love the communities and countryside he describes, so we decide to take our summer holiday there. Driving from Vancouver to Williams Lake, heading west then south, we enter Ts’yl-os Provincial Park in the territory of the Xeni Gwet’in.
We arrive at dusk as the evening meal is being served to a group of European tourists. They describe, with great animation, riding horses through untouched forest to a viewing area near a salmon spawning ground. Using telescopes they had seen a grizzly bear in the far off distance. “Tears were flooding down my face and I knew not to move or make a sound,” said a woman from Germany who had travelled half-way across the world and spent many thousands of dollars to experience those few moments. The next day we ride gentle, well-cared for horses, through the stillness of a wilderness valley. The viewing area is miles downwind of where grizzlies have been seen fishing. In silence we wait. In less than an hour, through a telescope, we see a cocoa coloured grizzly wading. As I watch, I also feel tears streaming down my face and feel the longing in the others to make these moments last forever.
Back at the lodge, we talk about what we can do to end bear hunting, what we can do to preserve wilderness habitat, and what we can do to convince the premier that bears generate more economic benefit to communities through tourism than hunting. We each vow to do something.
~ Teresa Murphy, Richmond ~
Working in northern BC forests gave me experiences with bears that remain with me even now. In the Spring one year, I came upon two grizzlies, each feeding after just coming out of hibernation. Initially, I didn’t realize that each bear was a mother with tiny cubs hidden in the heavy underbrush. Had those bears been killed, the baby cubs would have been left to die a horrible death. I think of that still, as female bears are so often killed during the grizzly hunt. On another occasion, north of Terrace, I saw a female black bear with a medium size Albino cub; that’s something you don’t see every day! And in the Spring of 1975, near Stewart, I came within 75 yards of a massive Grizzly Bear walking my way. I gave a yell and he just kept on going, more focused on feeding after his long hibernation. They’re great memories to have. ~ David Lawrie, Victoria ~
Author, internationally renowned bear expert, photographer and naturalist, Charlie Russell of Alberta has spent his whole life living with and studying grizzly bears in Canada, Alaska and Russia. In the early 90’s Charlie was a leader in ecotourism in British Columbia before he went on to spend 10 years raising orphan grizzly cubs in Kamchatka, Russia. Charlie Russell explains bears in this way: “In contrast to popular myth, bears and humans lived together peacefully for thousands of years before European occupation of North America. The facts also reveal that grizzlies are not dangerous, ruthless killers. In the absence of human hostility and violence, bears are naturally friendly and respectful.” Charlie continues to live among bears today, sharing the borderland with them between his ranch and Waterton National Park.
“Charlie Russell is a hero who deserves prominence in Canadian consciousness and beyond.
Charlie’s work opens our eyes to the breadth and depth of bears in particular, and nature in
general. Let us hope that his sensitivity is contagious.” ~ Artist Robert Bateman ~
Jamie Scott visited a bear viewing Lodge to learn about the life of a Grizzly Bear and hoped to dispel fears he has always had about this animal. He is a strong stand up man who comes from a lineage of subsistent hunters and follows his code to the ends. He admittedly put in for a grizzly bear LEH draw to get a trophy grizzly from this valley. Surprised when he was awarded the tag from the lottery, he decided he could not kill something simply for a trophy as it was not what he was taught. He chose to cut the tag up and was thus awarded a bear viewing trip.
After seeing a number of bears, and having a few very intimate encounters with them, his fears lessened and his understanding and dedication increased. He has learned more about the complexities and the deeper nature of these animals than he knew before.
Now he is an ambassador for grizzlies.
My name is Barbara Murray, I am third generation Canadian, born and raised into a hunting and fishing family in Prince George. I have been working as a bear advocate for the last fifteen years and sometimes use the name Bears Matter. It was July 16, 2001 when I heard the disheartening news that the moratorium on the grizzly hunt had been overturned. I knew a terrible mistake had been made and needed to be corrected. On that day I tried to reassure myself that of course the moratorium would be re-instituted after the newly elected government conducted their own investigation and brought all the stakeholders to the table. I couldn’t have been more wrong! Fifteen years and over four thousand, five hundred dead grizzly bears later, including over eleven hundred females, some fertile, some with tiny cubs, we are still having to fight to end the legal, twice annual and expanded hunt of grizzly bears in B.C. I believe with the fast approaching Spring provincial election we have a great opportunity to finally be heard on this ethical issue. Grizzly bears are the icons that represent Super Natural British Columbia so perfectly but killing them hurts us all deeply and taints our public identity as a progressive, compassionate society. We are better than this and can do better for our great bears and ourselves. ~ Barb Murray, Nanoose Bay ~