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“We found that the bear viewing is generating 12 times more in visitor spending than is bear hunting, and over 11 times more in direct revenue for the B.C. province,” researcher Martha Honey, Centre for Responsible Tourism, Stanford University in Washington, D.C. 

The Centre for Responsible Tourism is calling on the British Columbia government to revise its hunting policies considering findings that viewing bears is exponentially more profitable than killing them: “A comparison of the number of jobs generated by each industry also points to the need for a policy change. Researchers found companies involved in bear viewing employed 510 people in 2012, while 11 people worked for guide outfitters in the same year.”

“It seemed to us quite clear that the government is spending more to sort of manage and oversee hunting than it is earning from revenue from hunting,” she said.

More black bears are killed in Wisconsin than anywhere else on earth — 14,000 of them in the past two and a half years. Two-thirds of bears killed are cubs less than 2 years old. 

As Wisconsin’s DNR is exposed for paying criminals for dogs they throw to wolves, even when hunting illegally, indigenous people in Canada are banning trophy hunting.

Native people who live among their wildlife are fighting back — with real science, economic impact statistics, and their loving relationship to bears as brothers. This revealing video filmed by B.C.’s coastal First Nations tells the history of Indian relationship to their bears. It documents the community reaction to an American hunter violating their no hunting signs, killing and decapitating Cheeky, a young grizzly named and beloved by the locals.

The Nuxalk Nation creation story describes their people coming from the upper worlds in the beginning of time. On the walls of heaven hung all the different coats of the animals, and the first people were given the choice of what form they would like to use to move between the worlds. They chose the grizzly bear as a direct connection to the Creator.

A young leader of the Nuxalk Nation, Megan Moody, says, “A lot of people from around the world want to come to see bears and this brings our people out on the land. It’s a real opportunity to get involved. ... Science is basically adding to the arguments that we already have as aboriginal people. We have always had an understanding of bears that we should live with them. ... We really do not know how many are there — deforestation, declining salmon stocks and climate change — I would rather protect them and have them around for thousands of years rather than pretend we know what is going on and continue the needless killing of them.”

Let’s reiterate that — the state pretending to know what is going on and continuing the needless killing.

In September 2012, British Columbia’s First Nations issued a formal ban on trophy hunting of all bears, black, grizzlies and kermode bears, across the territories of nine signatory nations. These interlocking territories cover most of the Great Bear Rainforest. Nine out of 10 Canadians support the ban. However, like in Wisconsin, the fish and game agencies of Canada are corrupted by the bias of entrenched hunter control and intend to continue to kill bears and other wildlife for trophy.

Chris Darimont, the University of Victoria scientist who studied Cheeky’s remains, reported, “Cheeky was 5 or 6 years old, probably three years since he left his mother and her range. He probably had not fathered any cubs yet being so young and relatively small. In a long-lived species that might live 25-30 years in the absence of sport hunting, he may have fathered a hundred cubs in his life. The idea that this hunt is based on sound science to me and to a great many other scientists is absurd, for a number of reasons. But in an overarching way, science provides information, but it does not provide permission to behave unethically. For me, this is the primary issue at stake here. This is unethical behavior. To kill something without eating it.”

Frank Hanuse, Wuikinuxv Nation, said he had killed one grizzly in his life. He said he felt good about it at first, but when he started skinning it, it looked just like a human. “I got that feeling like killing my own brother …

"They’re us. We’re them. This is ours. We share it. We have been living with them so close for years and years. We feel like they are family. And we don’t like hunters just coming in here and blasting away and just taking a head. This is not just a First Nation issue. We have to protect them now.”

Now.

That means replacing our legislators with people who respect science and have common sense.

Three DNR hearings remain on Jan. 21, 22 and 23 (Eau Claire, Wausau and Fitchburg) for citizens to give input on “permanent” rules promoting expanded hunting and trapping in state parks.

Patricia Randolph of Portage is a longtime activist for wildlife. madravenspeak@gmail.com or www.wiwildlifeethic.org

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