Protest Season Opens in the Lead-Up to British Columbia's Grizzly Bear Trophy Hunt

Throughout much of North America, the grizzly bear is considered a threatened species—if it hasn't already been extirpated. Though healthy populations exist in both the United States and Canada, they have been reduced to a fraction of their original size and dramatic reductions in habitat make these diminished populations especially vulnerable.

British Columbia is, in many ways, an exception to this trend. There, an estimated 16,000 grizzly bears still occupy 81 percent of their historic range. In spite of this, or perhaps because of it, the province permits a controversial hunt of the bears every year.
An anti-bear hunting ad from Pacific Wild

Opened for the first time in 2001, more than 2,000 grizzly bears have been killed during this sport season since its initiation. The reason the BC government supports the hunt is clear: It generates $100 million annually.

In addition, hunting guide companies support the hunt—and the wealthy clients it attracts. But there is evidence that, in fact, the majority of British Columbians oppose the annual sport hunt.

A public opinion poll conducted by Ipsos Reid in 2009 found that 80 percent of people in British Columbia, including a majority of registered hunters, opposed the hunt.

Pro-hunt groups, however, argue that this poll did not present the issue fairly and that most people, when given a full background, support the bear hunt.

One thing is for sure: With two entrenched sides and a province-wide ad campaign supported by Pacific Wild, protest season has opened in British Columbia.

Read more about grizzly bears:
Grizzlies Move into Polar Bear Territory
Grizzly Bears Starve to Death as Salmon Disappear
Grizzly: Endangered Species or Recovery Success?
How Climate Change & People Are Wiping Out the Grizzly Bear in Yellowstone

Tags: Animals | Conservation