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April 1, 2009

Bears Targeted as Trophy Hunt Opens in Haida Gwaii, Great Bear Rainforest

Provincial Government Continues to Ignore Coastal First Nations and Majority of British Columbians

Humane Society International

BRITISH COLUMBIA — The provincial government will allow trophy hunters to begin killing bears for sport in the Great Bear Rainforest on Wednesday, even though Coastal First Nations and 78 percent of British Columbians want to see an end to the killing. Last month, the Coastal First Nations, Pacific Wild, Humane Society International/Canada and the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust formed a coalition to call for an end to the trophy hunting of bears in the Great Bear Rainforest. 

Joanne Chang, director of outreach for HSI/Canada, said, "Instead of taking meaningful steps to protect these magnificent grizzly and black bears, the government plans to close only a handful of coastal zones to bear hunting. This means that grizzly and black bears in the Great Bear Rainforest will continue to die cruel deaths at the hands of trophy hunters."

In a public relations attempt to downplay the controversy, Environment Minister Barry Penner recently announced additional grizzly and black bear "no hunting" areas, to be enforced after the hunting season is over. Most of the new "no hunting" areas are already off limits to hunting, and most of the Great Bear Rainforest remains open to trophy hunters.

"We know that the 'no hunting' areas are too few and too small to protect large, ranging animals such as bears. Once the bears leave the no-hunt zone they are vulnerable to trophy hunting," said Ian McAllister, director of Pacific Wild. "Without a total ban of trophy hunting in the Great Bear Rainforest, the bear populations will continue to be put at risk."

The Coastal First Nations want the trophy hunt banned in their respective territories because the sport slaughter of bears is incompatible with their values.

"Bears are integral to the ecology of the coast and deserve respect," said Guujaaw, spokesperson for the Coastal First Nations. "They should not die to fill someone's bloodlust or twisted sense of adventure."

Trophy hunting poses a direct economic threat to the rapidly growing wildlife viewing industry, which generates far more income for rural communities than the trophy hunting industry. While the commercial trophy hunting of grizzly bears generates only $2.5 million province-wide, one bear viewing operation alone in Knight Inlet grossed more than $3 million in direct revenue in 2007. The provincial government continues to confuse the issue by releasing economic figures for all hunting in the province. 

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B-roll footage and photographs of bears and bear hunting is available here and at pacificwild.org.

Humane Society International/Canada is a leading force for animal protection, representing tens of thousands of members and constituents across the country. HSI/Canada has active programs in companion animals, wildlife and habitat protection, marine mammal preservation and farm animal welfare. HSI/Canada is proud to be a part of Humane Society International — one of the largest animal protection organizations in the world, with more than ten million members and constituents globally — on the web at hsicanada.ca

The Coastal First Nations is an alliance of First Nations on British Columbia's North and Central Coast and Haida Gwaii. Our goal is to restore responsible land, water and resource management approaches on the Central and North Coast of British Columbia, and Haida Gwaii that are ecologically, socially and economically sustainable. We have developed partnerships with environmental groups, the federal and provincial governments, municipal leaders, industry and other interests to begin the move to a new conservation-based economy with increased First Nations involvement through strong leadership and vision. Members of the Coastal First Nations include Wuikinuxv Nation, Heiltsuk, Kitasoo/Xaixais, Holmalco, Gitga'at, Haisla, Metlakatla, Old Massett, Skidegate, and Council of the Haida Nation.

Pacific Wild is a BC-based non-profit society dedicated to wilderness and wildlife conservation. We work in partnership with a diverse group of organizations and individuals working to achieve lasting environmental protection. Pacific Wild founders and staff have been working on marine and terrestrial environmental campaigns in British Columbia for two decades. 

Since 1993 the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust, alone or in partnership with other conservation groups, has participated in the protection of more than 1.8 million acres of wildlife habitat in 37 states and seven foreign countries. On all properties owned by the Trust or protected by the Trust's conservation easement, both here and abroad, we prohibit recreational and commercial hunting and trapping and restrict logging and development. The Trust's commitment to these principles will never change as we continue to assist caring landowners to make their property permanent, safe homes for wildlife. Join our online community at wildlifelandtrust.org. 

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