Short Doc Film 'Trophy' Reveals Senselessness of British Columbia's Grizzly Bear Hunt

©. Trophy film

Hundreds of grizzlies are killed for sport every year in Canada's westernmost province, and this could spread to the U.S. too. Learn the horrifying facts and join the campaign to stop it.

Last year in British Columbia, 289 grizzly bears were killed by trophy hunters. These hunters kill for no reason other than sport. Nobody eats grizzlies, nor are the victims nuisance animals. They die so that hunters can revel in the thrill of hunting and display enormous heads, hides, and claws in their homes.

It sounds outrageous and barbaric, but trophy hunting is legal and sanctioned in the province of British Columbia. It means big business, too. Many trophy hunters come from the United States, where they pay $25,000 to guides to lead them on grizzly-hunting expeditions. They outfit themselves with expensive trucks, ATVs, guns and scopes in order to kill more easily. They celebrate the hunt with gleeful online videos depicting grizzlies being shot three or four times before dying. Residents of B.C. can hunt a grizzly after purchasing an $80 government-issued hunting tag.

A new 28-minute documentary called “Trophy,” backed by Lush Cosmetics, delves deep into this issue, challenging the notion that killing grizzlies for fun is appropriate in this day and age. In interviews with scientists, First Nations representatives, a former grizzly hunt guide, local bear-viewing guides, outfitters, and many others, “Trophy” makes a powerful case for why the trophy hunt should be banned.

Charlie Russell, a former hunt guide in B.C., said his opinion of grizzlies changed drastically over years of observation. He points out that we tell ourselves a very different story about these incredible animals than what he and many others have actually seen over the years. Grizzlies are peaceful creatures; they are wonderful with their cubs.

“People only want to understand them as a terrible animal so that they would feel good about killing them.”

The United States has protected grizzlies under the Endangered Species Act since 1975, but is now considering lifting that protection, as the population has grown steadily in past decades. Whereas there were once 150 grizzlies in Yellowstone, now there are around 700, and an estimated 1,800 bears live in the western United States. Should this happen, then the states of Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho would be responsible for managing bears, and they have indicated that they would allow trophy hunting.

While the trophy hunt does bring in some income to B.C. — approximately $2 million per year — it’s relatively little compared to the amount of money generated by non-invasive bear-viewing tourism, which is 10 times that amount. Bear watchers are not pleased by the fact that the magnificent bear they’ve observed peacefully up close one day could be killed the next day, all for an $80 tag.

Lush Cosmetics launched a campaign at the beginning of November to petition the British Columbia and U.S. governments to ban trophy hunting and keep it illegal, respectively. It is asking the public to watch the documentary, sign the petitions, use the hashtag #TrophyfreeBC, and spread the message as widely as possible that bears deserve to live in peace. All sales from its Great Bear Bath Bombs will go toward this campaign and Lush hopes to raise $250,000 in total.

You can watch "Trophy" online for free. Available here.