Over 15 years of work to end the sport hunting of grizzly bears
The ‘recreational’ killing of grizzly bears occurs throughout British Columbia every spring and fall. The trophy hunting of coastal grizzlies is not so much a sport as a search and destroy mission by trophy hunters with militia-style mindsets employing aircraft, electronic aids, and transport to arrive on a river, walk up to bears and shoot them while they feed.
Raincoast has been at the forefront of the campaign to end the grizzly hunt for almost 2 decades. While we believe this hunt cannot be justified on scientific or economic grounds, for us, it is ethical reasons that are at the heart of this issue. While we’ve been successful in some areas, we have more to accomplish.
Access to provincial kill data
In 2000, Raincoast filed a Freedom of Information request with the province of BC to get the grizzly kill data (we wanted numbers, location and sex). The ministry refused to hand it over. For five years Raincoast argued in the courts, and at every step the ruling was in Raincoast’s favour, first by the Information and Privacy Commissioner, then by the Supreme Court of BC, then the Appeals Court of BC, then back to the Information and Privacy Commissioner to get the data in electronic format.
Economics of the grizzly hunt
Our economic report Crossroads: Economics, Policy, and the Future of Grizzly Bears in BC (PDF) showed that by 2003, grizzly bear viewing was already generating twice the annual revenue of all the guide outfitting associated with the grizzly hunt. As part of the Crossroads strategy, we collaborated with coastal eco-tourism businesses to establish the Commercial Bear Viewing Association of BC.
The 2014 study, Economic Impact of Bear Viewing and Bear Hunting in the Great Bear Rainforest of British Columbia (PDF), undertaken by the Centre for Responsible Travel (CREST) found that revenue from bear viewing far outstripped revenue from the grizzly hunt.
Buying hunting territories
In 2001, Raincoast achieved a three year moratorium on the provincial grizzly hunt only to have it overturned when the Liberal government came to power later in the year. Clearly, we needed a different strategy.
As the only permanent solution to stopping the trophy hunt appeared to be literally buying out hunting licenses, Raincoast and its supporters began purchasing hunting rights in 2005. This initiative has saved dozens of grizzlies, black bears and wolves who would have been killed in the commercial trophy hunt.
Raincoast and its supporters have acquired the commercial trophy hunting rights in over 28,000 square kilometres of BC’s Great Bear Rainforest. Our ultimate goal is to control all commercial trophy hunting territories on the BC coast. We now stand poised to complete the job.