Why You Should Support The BC Bear Hunt
Under recent political pressure from the environmental
profiteers activists regarding BC Grizzly and Black Bear hunting, I thought it would be important to dispel a few of the myths they are presenting with some actual facts.
Make no mistake, this is an emotional campaign designed solely to tug on the purse strings of every resident in BC and around the world. This is only to further the agenda of a few environmental entrepreneurs who see an opportunity for more profit by excluding other user groups from enjoying our great outdoors. What does that tell you about their industry if it can't exist in harmony with other outdoor user groups?
These groups don’t really care about the bears, If they did then they would understand the imminent repercussions of an un-hunted population of Black and Grizzly bears within the province. The truth is they know the populations are doing well, they just need to gain some much needed political ground so they can continue exploiting the bears for profit at the expense of thousands of other back country users.
To Start Off With… Let’s Dispel A Few Myths.
Myth #1. Hunters Shoot Sows With And/Or Cubs. This myth is constantly brought up in the Articles and press releases from some of the
Conservation greedy environmental exclusionist groups trying to stop the hunt. It’s a myth they have concocted to pull at your purse strings.
Fact: Believe it or not, there are MORE sows w/cubs shot and killed in BC by RCMP and Conservation officers then hunters within the province.
One of the most deadly killers of bear cubs is actually older male bears, who will seek out, kill and eat cubs they did not father. Black Bears and Grizzly Bears give birth while in the den during hibernation through the winter. Spring bear hunting seasons in BC occur AFTER this time, so it’s very easy for a hunter to identify a family group. It is unlawful for a hunter to shoot a bear in the company of cubs.
The Fall Hunt obviously carries the potential for a sow to be shot, while pregnant with cubs. This is a rare occurrence as once again, hunters are also requested to take an older male bear. For the Guide Outfitters and other experienced bear hunters who are field educated in identifying the difference in sex this doesn’t pose much of a problem especially with the Grizzly hunt where the difference between an old boar and a sow are quite substantial.
It cannot be denied though that yes during the fall black bear hunt there will be a few pregnant sows killed by hunters but it’s clearly not an issue threatening the conservation considering the liberal seasons we have for Black Bear across this province with an annual bag limit of 2 bears per hunter.
Myth #2. Bears Are Shot & Their Carcass Left To Rot. First let’s state the obvious, nothing is wasted in nature. While Grizzly meat is considered “not fit” for human consumption there is still a requirement for a hunter to retrieve all edible portions of a black bear.
Here Are A Few Things People Do With The Bears They’ve Hunted:
– Bear Fat when rendered down makes an excellent waterproofing for boots, and other leathers as well as excellent lard for the perfect pastry believe it or not. Ask any bear hunter you know for some if you’d like to give it a try…
– Spring Black Bear meat often favored because of the bears primary diet at this time (berries, grass, greens) is turned into all sorts of delicacies such as smoked hams, smokies, pepperoni, jerky, burger, roasts and even steaks!
– Grizzly or Black Bear meat is often ground up and boiled to the required cooking temperature and made into a great natural and healthy dog food (I am trying to get a black bear right now for this very purpose)
– The hide can obviously be tanned/preserved and used as a rug or life size mount. This practice helps keep our largely home based business network of taxidermists alive in our provincial economy. These highly skilled small business men and women generate millions of dollars every year in our local economies. Without BC bear hunters these businesses would take a measurable financial hit. In the case of a Grizzly Bear being shot, the skull is taken, the hide is taken and the meat is usually left behind because it is not considered “safe” to eat for humans, although quite a few hunters will take the meat out and utilize it somehow because they don’t like to waste.
To take the “Trophy Hunting” wind right out of the greedy
conservation outdoor exclusionists sails we could just place a requirement on the removal of the meat from a Grizzly Bear. When cooked properly the meat can be turned into smoked delicacies as well as a natural food for your dogs.
Bear hunters would likely support a motion such as above more so then an outright ban on hunting.
The reality of a bear’s life is that eventually the bear is going to die. Grizzly bear hunters are primarily targeting the older male boars. Not sows with cubs or younger males.
The targeting of the older male Grizzlies by hunters is actually helping the bears comeback by allowing a higher rate of survival among the cubs. Many of which would be otherwise killed and eaten by these older male bears.
Myth #3. Grizzly Bear Populations In BC Are In Trouble.
Fact: If you look at the statistics it’s quite clear the population is not only growing but thriving in many parts of the province.
The town of Bella Coola is a perfect example. There were so many problem bears in the town last year that between the RCMP and the Conservation Service they were averaging nearly two problem bears a week. This helped prompt the ministry into allocating 10 more LEH tags in the immediate area surrounding the town itself.
Fact: In 1978 there were 317 Grizzly Bears killed by hunters.
This was at a time when there were over TWICE as many licensed hunters in the province as there are today, and you could buy a Grizzly bear tag over the counter and hunt them in a general open season.
In 2007 there were 363 bears killed by hunters and 67 bears killed in traffic accidents and by conservation officers combined. A total of 430 Grizzly bears.
To put it that into perspective, in 2007 BC had nearly 50% less hunters then in 1978 with even stricter regulations with the limited entry hunting (lottery) system, and there are yet even MORE bears being harvested.
Twist the facts all you want, those numbers don’t lie. We are now harvesting more bears (and more problem bears killed) then ever before, during a time when hunters are fewer and more heavily regulated through the LEH (limited entry hunting) system.
This would suggest one thing… The Grizzly Bear Population is strong, stable and growing (almost too quickly to manage in some areas around the province)
Fact: Grizzly Bears are migrating to Northern Vancouver Island
There have been at least 5 different Grizzly bears reported in the last year alone on Northern Vancouver Island. These bears aren’t coming here because of human encroachment…
They are moving because they have outgrown the carrying capacity of their coastal habitat on the mainland. There are simply too many bears in too small of an area and the overflow bears need to find somewhere to live. Northern Vancouver Island is only a few mile swim across from some of the coastal mainland areas that these Grizzlies live. These bears that are swimming across the straight are simply taking part in a natural migration of their species.
These bears simply need more space to survive and thrive and if the current trend continues, watch for a booming Grizzly bear population on the Northern end of the Island in another 10-15 years. What will they eat you ask….? Deer, Elk, Small Mammals, Grass, Berries and Salmon, and of course the main staple in their diet will likely be black bear cubs which they have been proven to acquire a taste for and can easily catch and dispatch. Change will definitely be coming to our Island paradise.
Myth: There are only 3000-4000 Grizzly Bears left in this province.
Fact: According the ministry of environment there are approximately 17,000 Grizzly Bears in the province.
And this number is only a conservative estimate. BC is an incredibly vast landmass comprising of some 360,000 square miles. It would be impossible for anyone to come up with any kind of accurate number without extracting their data from a number of different sources. The ministry of environment comes to their Grizzly bear population number through aerial surveys, feedback from residents, feedback from hunters and other back country users who spend much more time in the field then most if not all of the armchair conservation experts. All Grizzly Kills must be reported to the nearest wildlife inspector with in 30 days for inspection.
This harvest data is invaluable at helping biologists come up with their population estimates and knowledge on the Grizzly bears within the province. After all of their data has been collected they can then apply scientific formulas and come out with an accurate enough estimate to manage the population effectively.
It’s a much more accurate measurement then what the $$$$ minded
conservationists outdoor exclusionists can put forth. Their only data comes from their own paid scientists and supporters who conduct research only in the zones they intend to “make money from” by running their tours. Their “scientists” and “bear experts” help play a major supporting role in furthering the exclusionary agenda they seem to be pushing.
Conservation Outdoor exclusionist groups concentrate on making more money, the people who really care about the bears, The Ministry, Biologists and Hunters continue to collect data and work to maintain healthy bear populations province wide for all to enjoy.
Conservation Outdoor Exclusionist Groups would love for you to believe there is only 3000-4000 Grizzly bears left in this province. My suggestion to them is that they should probably venture out of their coastal bubbles and start looking at the entire province to collect their data.
Their estimate of 3000-4000 bears is probably right on the money for the amount of bears that inhabit the “coastal” areas of BC where they primarily offer their tour services but nowhere near is it an accurate representation of the bears across the province.
Here’s Some Food For Thought…
The Roosevelt Elk inhabits Vancouver Island for which the population estimates also dwindle somewhere around the 3000-4000 animal mark. There is a limited entry hunting draw, along with tags allocated to a few Island guide outfitters. The Elk face the same threats as the bears with logging and development and as far as populations concerned they are about in the same position that our outdoor exclusionist groups claim the Grizzly Bear are in.
So Why No Campaign To Stop The Elk Hunting & Save The Island Roosevelt Elk????
It’s simple… There is no money in it for them… They aren’t in the business of operating Roosevelt Elk Tours are they…? Instead, They are trying to conserve a resource (they have very little data on) for the profitability & protection of their own industry. They want to monopolize bear habitat and exclude other users for their own financial gain.
Make no mistake that’s exactly what they are trying to do… You don’t see the resident hunters of this province banding together to put an end to bear tour operators and sightseer’s do you…?
Hunters and Biologists in this province have been and will continue working hard at maintaining healthy bear populations for ALL users to enjoy for many, many years to come. We do not try to exclude other user groups we’d much rather work together.
So What Would An End To Bear Hunting In BC Really Do:
1. We would see an incredible rise in the amount of problem bears being shot by RCMP and Conservation Officers (Lots more sows and cubs). Problem bears would be classified as the bears digging through your garbage, hanging around your campsites and being a little too brave around humans in general… This would start increasing the year after all bear hunting stopped and would continue an uphill rise. The costs to trap, kill or relocate these bears would be substantial. I do not believe for one second that Raincoast or any of the other outdoor exclusionist groups will donate a penny to the effort. I am also willing to bet that the tour companies themselves would also offer little if any financial assistance for the problem they are fighting so hard to create.
2. Bears would start to lose their natural fear of humans and we would see a substantial rise in the amount of dangerous Bear-Human encounters with some of them resulting in injury, damage to property and yes, even death. It would be very interesting should an incident like this happen within the confines of one of their tour operations. Bears that continually threaten people and property must be destroyed… There is no way around that fact and when a bear is destroyed by RCMP or CO’s it ends up in the dumpster and the entire bear is wasted.
3. Bear populations would increase on a scale that would have them eventually outgrow and “out eat” their habitats carrying capacity. Along with this comes, disease, sickness, starvation and a few other negative side effects of stretching their habitat too thin. The Grizzly bear is not as slow to reproduce as they want you to believe… It’s not uncommon for a sow to have a litter of 1-3 cubs every other year. The biggest killer of bear cubs is in fact other male bears.
4. The increase in Bears would have a negative effect on local ungulate populations (Elk, Moose, Deer) as bears often like to hone in on the newly born fawns/calves because they are such easy meals. This can push the ungulates into unknown areas and out of their traditional range. You might move your campsite too if there were bears all around you, wouldn’t you?
5.The province would lose close to $1,000,000 in revenue from the purchase of bear tags and permits and $1,000,000’s more in PST generated from the purchases bear hunters make in preparation and during their trips.
6.The Guide Outfitting industry in BC would take a major financial hit costing the industry several million dollars in revenue every year. Smaller more remote towns where the outfitting for bears takes place will feel the financial pain more so then any lower mainlander. This will cost people jobs.
7. BC Taxidermists would take a major financial hit. Many taxidermists rely on a steady stream of bears coming through their shops… Bear Rugs and Mounts being some of the most expensive it would put a severe dent in their business and likely some of them could not withstand the drop in business. Vancouver Island taxidermists especially where more bear hunting takes place then anywhere in the province.
8. BC Butchers would also be affected. With a meat removal requirement for black bears many of these bears are taken to local butchers where they are turned into various smoked meats, steaks, hams and more. The average bear will cost upwards of $200 to have turned into Smokies, Pepperoni and other delicacies.
So What Would An Increase In Bear Tours Do For The Bears?
In short an increase in bear tour companies will do nothing but harm these bears in the long run. This activity will rapidly habituate the bears to humans. With recommended viewing distances of approximately 100 yards (or closer if the bear walks closer) it’s going to send a very clear message to the bears that these humans are no longer a threat.
Dangerous bear encounters will happen much more frequently. With this increase in viewing pressure the bears will start to move their traditional feeding grounds from the stress of the tour boats coming and going and constant sounds and smells of humans.
Some of these same issues are already affecting the whale watching industry in BC. You can have as many as 50+ tour boats surrounding a single pod of whales, with hundreds of passengers making noises, cheering, laughing, shouting and it’s affecting how the whales behave.
One also has to ask, what the environmental impact to an area will be with the increase in traffic from boats, planes and other vehicles as they transport more and more people in to see the bears.
I’ve got absolutely nothing against the tour companies and outdoor exclusionist for their ability to raise awareness about the most important issue affecting our BC bears, which would be habitat loss due to logging.
Their business strategy of excluding other user groups from their age-old back country traditions is ridiculous. While hunting might be tough for some to swallow, it’s a perfectly legal activity and has been going on for far longer then you or I have been around.
If you want this mans thoughts, I believe the tour companies should be regulated much like the Guide Outfitter industry.
These tour operators should have regulations and quotas as to what time of the year they can operate and how many boats they can run, how much time they can spend in an area and also how many people they can take on an annual basis. Their carbon footprint over the land is far greater then your average BC bear hunter and should be regulated.
So ask yourself this question… When there is a major increase in bear problems following a ban on bear hunting do you think the tour companies are all going to chip in and pay the exponential increase in costs to our police force and conservation officers…?
Not a chance… They will lobby and promote, and try and weasel their way into making the Government pay to fix the problems that their own personal greed has created or they’ll once again turn to the public for funds through one of their emotionally designed tear-jerking donation campaigns.
What gives any of these groups or individuals the right to decide what my future in the outdoors will look like…?
What gives any of these make-believe conservation groups the right to decide what I can and cannot “hunt” as a legal and licensed hunter within the province?
The BC resident hunters of this province certainly aren’t riding the backs of our bears to try and make a buck like the tour operators are. We’re here for the bears… And to preserve a tradition and way of life that is slowly being forgotten as we pave way for bigger skyscrapers, bigger highways, and more and more residential spaces.
When can the argument turn away from who or how we are going to make the most money from the bears and instead concentrate on preserving habitat for bear viewers and bear hunters to utilize for decades to come.
The outdoor exclusionists would be better off directing their fight and funds towards fighting big development and logging. The two biggest threats to our black and grizzly bears and wildlife in the province as a whole…
Instead they are targeting the wrong crowd. They go after hunters, because the outdoor exclusionists rarely win against development and logging companies, it just costs them piles of money with little results.
The outdoor exclusionist groups go after hunters because naturally, we don’t put up much of a fight… We don’t draw a big salary from our non-profit organizations to spend all of our time rallying and fighting for another
cash cow cause… We just get out there and enjoy the great outdoors.
Most of us BC resident hunters have jobs, businesses and families to take care of. As a group, we are poorly organized for this fight and thus the easiest target for the outdoor exclusionist to single out. It’s really a shame, they don’t realize hunters are the forefront of conservationists in this country, always have been and always will be.
Qualicum Beach BC.