Give trophy to eco-tourists, not hunters

During the past year several well-researched articles have criticized B.C.’s wildlife policies as inept, ineffective and badly in need of updating.

In particular, the ongoing culling of the wolf population in the East Kootenays, on the assumption that it was responsible for the erosion of the caribou population, avoids or overlooks the real cause, which is expansion of human habitation and resulting loss of habitat. Furthermore, the government’s intransigent dismissal of the overwhelming public desire to end the trophy grizzly hunt, as indicated in several widely circulated surveys, is worrisome. Worse, its extension of the open season in the face of widespread disapproval of Grizzly hunting, is offensively arrogant and displays blatant disregard for the public it serves.

At a time when there is world concern for the preservation of many of the more exotic animal species, we appear to be going in the opposite direction. Allowing the trophy hunting and killing of these magnificent creatures for pleasure is nothing short of an unconscionable blood sport. It’s backward, immoral and brings shame and disrepute to an otherwise enlightened society.

Ecotourism is a growing and increasingly important industry and bear viewing is very much a part of it. Research suggests it produces 10 times the revenue to the province that hunting does. Tourist guides and tour operators suggest that hunting grizzlies is an impediment and unnecessary threat to the future of this business and wish it discontinued. However, the problem appears to be money — and who is getting it. Licence fees together with, it is believed, important political donations go directly into provincial coffers, whereas income from ecotourism is widely and publicly distributed.

The upcoming election is a great opportunity to press for change.

Colin Bartlett