B.C. First Nations to ‘do whatever it takes’ to stop grizzly bear trophy hunters
Posted by Zig Zag
By Bethany Lindsay, Vancouver Sun, September 8, 2015
First Nations along B.C.’s north and central coasts are vowing to do whatever it takes to enforce a ban on trophy grizzly bear hunting in their traditional territories.
The Coastal First Nations alliance first announced the ban in 2012, but say that because the provincial government still issues trophy-hunting permits, bears are still being killed for their heads and paws.
“It’s wrong on so many levels. Ethically, it’s not supported, but I know in my culture as well it’s not supported,” Kitasoo/Xai’xais Chief Doug Neasloss said.
“But the government just keeps issuing these tags for people who want to blast these bears.”
The aboriginal Coastal Guardians Watchmen that patrol the coast promise they will be stepping up their monitoring and enforcement efforts when the fall grizzly bear hunt opens on some parts of the coast this week. The first step will be to educate hunters, informing them that the local First Nations do not support trophy hunting.
The next step is enforcement.
“We’ll do whatever it takes. I guess I should be careful what I say, but on the ground, I think if we were to see someone responsible for this, I think it would be very interesting,” Neasloss said.
“There are some communities that would literally drive between boats trying to shoot bears. Some people will stay and scare the bears away.”
The First Nations also plan to monitor hunting boats as they move from territory to territory.
Enforcing the ban is key in a region where First Nations are trying to build a tourism industry based on non-lethal wildlife viewing and aboriginal culture, according to Neasloss.
“(Tourism) is a long-term sustainable industry. Jobs are kind of hard to find in our remote communities, and tourism’s one of them,” he said.
He added that it’s hard to tell how much of an impact the ban is having so far, but the number of bears killed within his nation’s territory around Klemtu has gone down since the prohibition was announced three years ago.
There are other signs that the ban is working, too. A small number of local hunters have handed their grizzly tags over to the First Nations in recognition of the prohibition, and anti-hunting advocates are applying for licences with no intention of ever using them.
The vast majority of British Columbians are against trophy hunting, according to a 2013 survey. Just 10 per cent of those polled by Insights West supported the practice.