by Maureen Gordon, Maple Leaf Adventures

Photography guests 'shooting' bears with their camera and showing support for the ban on trophy hunting. Taken on a Maple Leaf Adventures trip in 2014 by Kevin Smith.

Here we are, April 1, 2015, and unbelievably it is the opening of another season in which people are permitted to enter our protected areas and kill grizzly bears just for fun.

But April 1 is also about the time that adventure tourism starts to pick up in British Columbia – and another, much more lucrative industry involving bears is starting up: sustainable bear viewing.

In fact, we think bear viewing wins against the trophy hunt no matter which way you view it:

  • Ethics: Providing delightful, educational experiences in proximity to bears without harassing them (bear viewing) versus frightening, injuring, stressing or killing them to get some paws, pelt or head to mount on one’s wall (trophy hunting). For us, sustainable bear viewing is clearly more ethical. Coastal first nations in the Great Bear Rainforest think so too. We respect and support their ban on trophy hunting.
  • Economics: Sustainable bear viewing right now provides 12 times the revenues as trophy hunting and there is lots more growth possible. Furthermore, bear viewing employs far more people in the province.
  • Conservation: Bear viewing ‘uses’ the resource (bears in their natural habitat behaving naturally) without reducing their population or giving a negative impact. In fact, the more people who view these bears in a sustainable manner and within the carrying capacity of the habitat, the more support there is for conservation of our natural areas. This is particularly important when the province does not have confirmed population numbers for grizzly bears in BC.
  • Popular support: Almost 90% of British Columbians support ending the trophy hunt in BC. (Note that the trophy hunt is about killing animals for fun. This is very different from food hunting, which typically targets prey species like deer rather than top predators (wolves, bears) like trophy hunting.

We’ve written about this for decades.

This year, we’re just going to provide links to what you can do: (1) action, (2) getting educated, and (3) supporting the sustainable bear viewing industry in BC with your dollars.

Action
Write to the BC Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training, Shirley Bond, JTST.Minister@gov.bc.ca
Post
PO BOX 9071
STN PROV GOV
VICTORIA, BC
V8W 9E2

Education
Wanted Alive, Not Dead: The Case for Thriving Bears in BC by Kevin Smith, president, Maple Leaf Adventures

Economic Impact of Bear Viewing and Bear Hunting in the Great Bear Rainforest of British Columbia, Centre for Responsible Travel and Stanford University

The need for proper bear population statistics, bears and salmon, and the purchase of trophy hunt licences by a conservation organization, Raincoast Conservation Foundation

Articles and videos from Pacific Wild.

The Coastal First Nations ban on trophy hunting.

Film about the issue, set in the very same estuary that the photo above was taken in, on BearsForever.ca

Supporting Sustainable Bear Viewing Businesses
One of the most powerful ways we vote is by deciding how we spend our money and where it goes. Come out with one of the many sustainable bear viewing organizations (see the Commercial Bear Viewing Association of BC for members) in BC. The more we are all successful together, the clearer the economic argument becomes.

By taking bear viewing trip (or a trip with bear viewing as one part of it) you’ll delight yourself, while also supporting a sustainable future.

If you’re interested in Maple Leaf Adventures trips, we have a few trips with availability for 2015 in BC or Alaska:

  • Great Bear Rainforest Spring, May 15-22
  • Great Bear Rainforest and Kitlope, May 23-30
  • Alaska Adventure, July 8-17, July 19-28
  • Great Bear Rainforest, Aug 17-25, Aug 26-Sep 3, Oct 2-10

For itineraries and details, visit www.MapleLeafAdventures.com or contact us.

And, happy International Bear Day, April 1st!