(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

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 
and wolverines."

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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