Janet Sawatsky said it was an amazing experience to watch grizzly bears in Knight’s Inlet in 2014

Parksville woman who won tag in lottery to hunt grizzly bear won’t use it

Janet Sawatsky believes this is one way to save at least one bear

A local woman admits it may not be the most effective way, but she’s done her part to save one grizzly bear.

“In 2014 we spent two days at Knight’s Inlet Lodge and had the amazing experience to observe grizzlies in the wild,” said Janet Sawatsky of Columbia Beach, near Parksville.

“Feeling as we all do the utter frustration of our government and disgust at the mentality of people who find some sort of satisfaction and pleasure out of killing, decapitating and whatever else they do to disrespect the body of these creatures and then let their corpses rot, I felt I had to do something,” she said.

She said she doesn’t have an issue with hunting for food, but the experience made her opposition to trophy hunting very personal.

“On the final night of our adventure I spoke with one of the guides, he told me that you could in fact enter the lottery and then of course not use the tag if you were a ‘winner.’

She started the process but quickly decided she didn’t have much chance as a “64-year-old woman who had never previously held a hunting licence or owned a gun.”

But she did know someone who fit the criteria, who’d survived a grizzly encounter years earlier in northern B.C.

She said her friend, working as a guide, had stumbled on a grizzly cub outside their cabin and tried to back away before the mother appeared feet away and stood up ready to attack him. They stared each other down for “what must have seemed like forever,” Sawatsky said, before the mother bear decided to leave him alone.

“I called him up and said, ‘How would you like to pay back that grizzly that didn’t kill you when she could have?'”

Sawatsky did the work and paid the costs for him to enter the lottery and two years later, when she’s almost forgotten about it, they “won.”

According to the B.C. government 9,614 people applied for 3,469 grizzly hunting tags in 2014 and 267 grizzlies were killed.

Sawatsky pointed to the widely quoted 2015 Insights West poll that found 91 per cent of B.C. respondents are against trophy hunting.

She said she thought long and hard about using this approach, admitting “the lottery is not really a way for a lot of people to show their disapproval,” but that she is trying to voice her concerns and she encourages others to stand up and also voice their concerns to elected representatives.

“One grizzly will live to see another day and one day the insanity will stop,” she concluded.

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