Environmentalists, hunters divided on ethics of bear hunt

As the bear hunt in the Lower Mainland kicks off for fall, various groups purporting to have the animals’ best interest at heart are squaring off over the ecological ethics the hunt.

As the bear hunt in the Lower Mainland kicks off for fall, various groups purporting to have the animals’ best interest at heart are squaring off over the ecological ethics the hunt.

Faisal Moola, science and conservation director at the David Suzuki Foundation, said grizzly bears in particular are listed as threatened and legislation should be implemented to protect them by ending the hunt.

“There is great uncertainly on how many grizzly bears are in B.C. and whether or not the population can sustain an annual cull,” he said. “(Bears already) face a perfect storm of human threat from loss of habitat to the effects of climate change.”

Moola said non-lethal tours that allow people to see bears in the wild generate twice as much revenue annually as guided hunts while being sustainable.

But Dirk Schuirmann, a guide at Bear Lake Guide and Outfitters, said sightseeing tours are more disruptive to bears than hunting.

“(Bears) get disturbed and they stop breeding,” Schuirmann said. “The population would eventually decline if hunting was banned because the male bears would attack each other.

Trophy hunting can be good if you target males because … they kill more female bears and cubs than hunters.”

Schuirmann added the thousands of dollars spent on licence and tag fees goes straight to conservation and wildlife research.