‘Ill-informed rant’ not fair to grizzly bears

Dear editor,

I must respond to Tom Fletcher’s ill-informed rant in support of the expansion of the B.C. provincial grizzly bear hunt.

Dear editor,

I must respond to Tom Fletcher’s ill-informed rant (Record, Feb. 27) in support of the expansion of the B.C. provincial grizzly bear hunt.

Fletcher’s “pro-hunting for the sake of hunting” bias is apparent through his words and language long before his misguided ideas are even expressed. He states that over 1,000 bears are “up for grabs,” as if they are little more than packages of meat on a shelf somewhere, to be doled out to the highest bidder.

He also says that “activists want the whole province shut down.” As far as I know, running around shooting helpless majestic bears in the wild is not what B.C. is “open” for in the first place.

He goes on to claim that less than a third of all grizzly hunts are successful, which is simply untrue.

Recent studies by scientists from the Universities of Victoria and SFU have concluded that legally sanctioned hunters regularly kill more animals than allowed under the province’s own management policy.

Grizzlies are also lost through road and rail collisions, animal control actions, and, the biggest threat Fletcher failed to consider, the enormous problem of poaching.

Recently the problem of poaching was highlighted right here on Vancouver Island when the bodies of elk starting appearing around Port Alberni. Imagine the scale of the problem in more remote areas, where there are fewer watchful eyes.

Fletcher scoffs at “California experts” who claim that bear-viewing is more economically feasible than bear-killing. Perhaps the study conducted by the Centre for Responsible Tourism, a research institute at Stanford University in Washington, D.C might be more to his liking?

Or why not look at B.C. studies instead? Every study that I am aware of has come to the same conclusion — bear-viewing brings in far more money to B.C. than bear-hunting does.

Having worked in the bear-viewing industry myself for 10 years, I can attest to the significance of the endeavour to our economy.

Fletcher also claims that the expansion of the grizzly hunt must indicate increasing populations. Wrong again.

There has been no indication that grizzly populations are increasing. The expansion of the hunt is a political decision, and a misguided one at that.

But perhaps the most despicable thing about Tom Fletcher’s column was his seeming defence of the abhorrent behaviour of an American hunter who came to B.C. to kill a bear, and then left its body to rot on the beach where it was shot.

He likened this to the same thing that happens when bears “overpopulate” and end up starving.

Obviously Tom Fletcher is uninformed about bear biology for when a bear population faces hunger, the females stop producing young and bears, being omnivorous, return to the estuaries and beaches where they feed on sedges and grasses, like cows grazing in fields.

Grizzly bears are not overpopulating anywhere. Shooting another living being for nothing more than the fun of it, is simply wrong, and most British Columbians agree.

The future for B.C. grizzly bears is not bright, especially as our oceans are showing signs of serious illness, and the fate of the salmon runs that sustain the bears looks uncertain.

But I fear more for their future due to the kinds of ideas promoted by men like Tom Fletcher.

Kerry Dawson, BSc, BEd., MRM,

Comox Valley