The C.A.S.H. Courier Newsletter
Summer-Fall 2012 Issue
First Nations of British Columbia Ban Bear Hunting
By E.M. Fay
Photo by Marni Grossman:
With great scenic beauty and a wide variety of wildlife, British Columbia
is well known as an attractive destination for wildlife tourism. The
provincial government welcomes revenue of hundreds of millions of dollars
annually, whether visitors are there for the peaceful pastime of wildlife
watching or the more sinister activity of killing the native animals.
Bears in particular are big business for B.C., as hunters consider them
an especially prestigious “trophy.” The bears have a traditional ally,
however, people who have long respected these magnificent animals and are
now speaking up for them in a meaningful way.
Recently, a coalition of ten First Nations communities, whose lands
extend along BC’s central and northern coasts, ordered a ban on bear hunting
in their territory. The leader of one of these Nations, Chief Doug Neasloss
of the Kitasoo Xai’xais, stated that the ban is for both conservation of the
bears and public safety.
First Nations feel that the only justification for killing animals is
self-defense or subsistence. These are not the motives of hunters, however,
who seek to gratify some cruel or self-aggrandizing aspect of their own
Another important point being made by First Nations
representatives is that hunters usually go after the larger, likely
genetically-superior bears, which naturally weakens the gene pool in the
general population of bears.
Not surprisingly, bear hunting guides are
opposed to the ban, fearing loss of income. Unfortunately, the provincial
government of BC is also against the ban, as they profit from allowing 300
grizzlies to be killed annually, among other hunting horrors.
disrespectful hunters can be, we asked Chief Neasloss if it was difficult to
keep them off the Coastal Nations’ land, and were told that they do often
barge right in. But Nation members patrol the area, both in the forests and
along the coast.
“We have Coastal Guardian Watchmen with eleven boats in
the water. All ten communities patrol the coastline from Prince Rupert to
the north end of Vancouver Island.”
The Coastal First Nations alliance
includes the Wuikinuxv Nation, Heiltsuk, Kitasoo/Xaixais, Nuxalk, Gitga’at,
Haisla, Metlakatla, Old Massett, Skidegate, and Council of the Haida Nation.
Regarding the dispute with the provincial government, Chief Neasloss said,
“Despite years of effort by the Coastal First Nations to find a resolution
to this issue with the province, the senseless and brutal trophy hunt
They do not want to have to go to court over this conflict,
but it is a possibility if the provincial government continues to deny the
First Nations’ sovereign right to protect their own land.
Councillor for the Heiltsuk Nation, added, “It’s not a part of our culture
to kill an animal for sport and hang them on a wall.”
Hunters often kill
bears when they are most vulnerable, foraging along the water’s edge. And
there is always the danger that they may unintentionally kill a black bear
who carries the rare recessive gene of the Kermode Spirit Bear, an animal
sacred to many First Nations. For these and other reasons, the ban on
hunting is a wise idea.
Some assistance with the ban has come from the
non-profit Raincoast Conservation Foundation, who are also opposed to
hunting. They announced on September 15th that they had purchased the
commercial hunting rights over 3500 square kilometers on BC’s central coast
from a guide outfitter to protect the bears in that region. Their ownership
of these hunting territories is in perpetuity.
RCF wants to help First
Nations and others with the economic opportunities offered by harmless
wildlife watching. Executive Director Chris Genovali said, “Ecological
issues aside, the coastal trophy bear hunt cannot be justified from either
an ethical or economic perspective.” Visit RCF at:
Regarding the proposed ban, public support could be helpful. As Chief
Neasloss said, “Our first priority is to get the word out to people.”
C.A.S.H. is grateful to the First Nations communities who are taking this
significant step towards protecting bears from the vile hunters who have no
respect for the individual lives they take.
Learn more about the
wildlife of BC and see some amazing photographs by Chief Neasloss at:
E.M. Fay is a journalist who specializes in environment and wildlife. She is
Assoc. Editor of the C.A.S.H. Courier and the Wildlife Watch Binocular.
Go on to
Revenge Killing of Wildlife is
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