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article imageSuzuki Foundation says B.C. Grizzlies killed in no-hunt zones

By Stephanie Dearing     Feb 26, 2010 in Environment
A press release issued Thursday by the David Suzuki Foundation does not spare anyone's feelings in its lead up towards a March release of its study on trophy hunting and grizzly bear mortality in British Columbia.
Vancouver, B.C. - The slaughter, the David Suzuki Foundation points out, is legal. The problem is the difference between the public's perception and the reality about the amount of protection British Columbia gives to grizzly bears. "Trophy hunters are turning British Columbia’s protected areas into graveyards for grizzlies, despite the province’s reputation as one of the last continental safe havens for the bears, according to new research by the David Suzuki Foundation."
At issue is the fact that Grizzlies are not afforded any special protection in British Columbia. The Canadian Species at Risk registry shows British Columbia grizzlies are of "special concern," however, the government has not accorded the species a status and the bears are not identified as endangered. Grizzlies are protected in the United States, where the population is estimated at 1,100 remaining bears. Dr. Chris Darimont, an ecologist with the University of California Santa Cruz said "Of all species, grizzlies are among the most vulnerable to human impacts such as habitat destruction, pollution, climate change and overfishing of the salmon they feed on. Trophy hunting is further threatening British Columbia’s bears, which should be protected and not killed for sport."
The hunting season in British Columbia for grizzlies will open in May for a ten-day period. Hunting Grizzlies for trophy is popular because of the fearsome reputation the top predator have as "killers." British Columbia has designated three park areas as "no-hunt" zones, calling the sites grizzly management areas.
Loss of habitat due to human activity has impacted the population of grizzly bears the most, shrinking the traditional North American habitat to primarily British Columbia. It only took 100 years in the United States to eradicate most of the grizzlies from 98% of their range.
Hunting associations such as the Guide Outfitters Association, who defend the B.C. grizzly hunt, say hunting is an important facet of British Columbia's economy. "233 licensed guide outfitters in BC who directly employ over 2,000 people and generate over $120 million annually to the economy of British Columbia." The Guide Outfitters Association said "Without hunters who would have paid for the $7 million DNA study that was done to confirm the grizzly bear population estimate in BC?" The Association states the Grizzly hunt is sustainable because it takes less than 2% of the Grizzly population. It is estimated that there are under 20,000 grizzlies remaining in the province.
Parks Canada has stated its objective for Grizzly Bears in Alberta and British Columbia is "To maintain a non-declining and viable population of grizzly bears within the regional landscape through collaborative management of human-caused grizzly bear mortality, human land use and landscape conditions. Parks Canada's actions will contribute to the long-term persistence of a healthy population of grizzly bears." One concrete goal set out by Parks Canada was to reduce the number of human-caused Grizzly deaths to 1% of the total population each year.
Tourists who travel to British Columbia to watch Grizzly Bears in their habitat are thought to contribute upwards of $6 million to B.C.'s economy.
More about David suzuki, Suzuki foundation, Grizzly bears, Provincial parks, Parks canada
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