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May 8, 2009

Wildlife Protection Advocates Urge Protections for BC Bears

International Support Builds for Bear Protection in Great Bear Rainforest

The Humane Society of the United States

VANCOUVER — Jane Goodall, Ph.D., and artist Robert Bateman, two internationally recognized voices for wildlife protection, are asking the British Columbian government to end the cruel and senseless trophy hunting of bears.

In March, 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. These groups are now strongly encouraging the provincial government to protect bears.

"People from around the world believed that British Columbia had protected the Great Bear Rainforest. To learn now that the government continues to allow the sport hunt of grizzly bears, and even the rare coastal black bear that carries the recessive gene that allows the Spirit bear to exist, is shocking," said Goodall, UN Messenger of Peace and founder of the Jane Goodall Institute. She made her comments in a video being released today by Pacific Wild.

The groups argue that hunting poses a threat to bear populations, noting that of the 430 grizzly bears killed in B.C. in 2007, 87 percent were killed by trophy hunters. Bears are often gunned down by trophy hunters near shorelines as they forage for food in the spring and fall, in some cases only days after bear viewing operations have left the area. Black bears are also at risk. The B.C. coast has one of the greatest diversity of black bears subspecies in North America, ranging from the spirit bear (kermode subspecies) to the Haida black bear.

"Killing these bears has nothing to do with subsistence; it's simply an unforgivable act of wildlife destruction," said Bateman. "Grizzly and black bears are an integral part of our landscape and the ecosystem of the Great Bear Rainforest and there can be no justification for killing these animals just for sport. Our provincial government must listen to the opinions of the First Nations and the majority of British Columbians by ending this hunt for good."

Goodall and Bateman join a growing list of internationally recognized people who are condemning the B.C. government for continuing the sport hunt of bears in the Great Bear Rainforest.

Facts:

  • In 2001 Premier Gordon Campbell overturned a moratorium on the trophy hunting of grizzly bears. Since then, nearly 2,000 grizzly bears have been killed for sport in B.C.
  • A 2009 Ipsos-Reid poll shows more than 79 percent of British Columbians want to see protection for bears in the Great Bear Rainforest.
  • The trophy hunt also threatens tourism-based bear viewing operations, which bring more income to rural communities than bear killing.

Visit pacificwild.org to view Goodall's interview. Broadcast quality copies are available upon request. Broadcast-quality images and b-roll of bears and bear hunting are available by clicking here.

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Statements from coalition organizations:

"Government action shoud be in line with public opinion and that would mean stopping the hunt for good and allowing bears to live out their lives in peace." - Joanne Chang, director of outreach for Humane Society International/Canada

"We are doing everything possible to stop the trophy bear hunt. It is not part of our culture or economy and we are very grateful for Dr. Goodall's and Mr. Bateman's support." - Percy Starr, a hereditary chief of the Kitasso First Nation.

"It is only a matter of time before this senseless trophy hunt becomes a sad chapter in B.C.'s history. No one can say that the Great Bear Rainforest is protected while bears continue to be legally slaughtered for trophies." - Ian McAllister of Pacific Wild Alliance.

Humane Society International/Canada is a leading force for animal protection, representing tens of thousands of members and constituents across the country. 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. On the web at coastalfirstnations.ca.

Pacific Wild is a B.C.-based non-profit society dedicated to wilderness and wildlife conservation. Online at pacificwild.org.

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 countries. Online at wildlifelandtrust.org. 

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