(CA) Kill your grizzly while you can
Barry Kent MacKay
mimus at sympatico.ca
Wed Jun 18 20:07:59 EDT 2003
Kill your grizzly while you can
Globe and Mail
By PAUL SULLIVAN
Wednesday, June 18, 2003 - Page A21
The grizzly bear is one of Mother Nature's most awe-inspiring creations. A
newborn grizzly is about the size of a rat, but a full-grown male can reach
more than three metres tall and weigh more than 450 kilograms.
Despite his size, ursus arctos horribilis can run up to 55 kilometres per
hour, so don't annoy him.
They are masters of their domains, which range from 25 to 1,000 square
kilometres. They are able to smell food miles away, and fiendishly clever at
finding it. In Yellowstone, bears will climb far above the timberline to
consume 10,000 to 20,000 army cutworm moths a day.
Grizzlies living along the coast of British Columbia don't have to stoop so
far down the food chain; they have access to salmon, and are legendary
Alas, as the global village shrinks, big carnivores don't fit any more.
Grizzlies are almost exclusively confined to the area of northwest North
America that includes British Columbia and Alberta. There are somewhere
between 600 and 800 in Alberta, and as many as 13,000 in British Columbia.
The B.C. government takes its role as one of the few stewards of this
precious resource seriously -- so seriously, in fact, it has reduced the
annual grizzly hunt from 6 per cent to 5 per cent of the population.
Wait a minute. Did I say grizzly hunt? Does the government allow people to
kill these astonishing creatures?
Sure. Why not? The NDP imposed a moratorium on the hunt, but not long after
they assumed power, the Liberals lifted it, and 213 bears were killed last
year. The hunt yields an annual $3.3-million a year, a report released just
yesterday says, and when you're faced with the worst performing economy in
the country you'll do anything for a buck.
But if the government is really interested in economics, the new report
contends, grizzlies are worth more alive than dead, and if the hunt is
stopped, the revenue from grizzly ecotours will only increase.
Crossroads, Economics, Policy and the Future of Grizzly Bears in British
Columbia is a joint project of the Raincoast Conservation Society and the
innovative Centre for Integral Economics. By examining both the ecotourist
and hunting industries, it concludes that bears are worth almost twice as
much alive -- $6.1-million annually -- as dead.
The aim of the report is to persuade government that the argument of British
Columbia's guide-outfitters to maintain the hunt as an economic benefit is
In keeping the hunt going, the B.C. government maintains it is following the
guidance of an independent scientific panel that concluded this spring there
is no clear evidence that bears are being overhunted in the province.
However, it warned that "extreme caution" should guide the hunt.
Environmentalists worry that the hunt, combined with poaching, road kill,
nuisance kill and the Liberals' relentless cutback on wildlife law
enforcement will lead to an unacceptable reduction of the population.
And if this new report is right, the economics of bear hunting are suspect.
Based on current practices, over the next 20 years, the authors estimate
grizzly tourism will be worth $75-million, and grizzly hunting $40-million.
Of course, if the hunt contributes to the decline in bear population, that
$40-million will seem like a cheap sellout indeed.
It's not likely the report will change Water, Air and Land Minister Joyce
Murray's mind about hunting grizzlies. She's got the independent science to
fall back on. Yet, if the government won't listen to environmentalists when
they're being reasonable and basing their arguments on sound economics, it's
merely opening the door for green radicals who won't be happy until they
shut down all human activity in British Columbia.
Meanwhile, according to The Times of London, "royal gunsmith" Holland &
Holland, encouraged by the lifting of the ban, is advertising
grizzly-hunting expeditions in British Columbia and Alaska for adventurous
aristocrats. Under the heading "Sporting Opportunities at a Glance," the
purveyors of shotguns to Madonna also offer "black bears, caribou, wolves
But grizzlies are the main attraction. If they hurry, their majesties can
bag one before they're all gone.
psullivan at globeandmail.ca
Barry Kent MacKay
Senior Program Coordinator: Canada
Animal Protection Institute
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