Government trophy hunt puts iconic spirit bear and Olympic Games symbol at risk
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - VANCOUVER, BC, February 23, 2010
In a few weeks,the B.C. government plans on reopening the trophy hunt of bears in the internationally celebrated Great Bear Rainforest. And the spirit bear, which was featured in the Olympic Games’ opening ceremonies, could be one of its targets.
The future of the white Kermode or spirit bear is being put at risk because black bears that carry the spirit bear’s white fur gene are fair game for trophy hunters.
The genetically distinct Haida black bear and the grizzly bear, which is listed as a Species of Special Concern by the Canadian Federal government, can also be killed senselessly for sport.
Coinciding with the release of a Vancouver Sun full page ad, supported by over 20 million people from 40 countries, conservationists have released a map showing that less than two percent of the white Kermode or spirit bear range actually protects the bears from trophy hunting in B.C.
"How can British Columbia be celebrating the spirit bear in the opening Olympic ceremony and as an official mascot to the Olympics when trophy hunting is allowed in over 98 percent of the animal's genetic range?" asks Ian McAllister of B.C.-based Pacific Wild.
"It just doesn't make sense to protect only the white coloured bears when the black bear also carries the gene that produces white cubs." said Kitasoo-Xai'xais bear viewing guide Doug Neasloss.
"The spirit bear is a beautiful representative of evolution and we should not be tinkering with nature by allowing black Kermodes to be shot only to be hung on people's walls. This is an archaic and shallow blood sport," said Wayne McCrory, a Valhalla Wilderness Society biologist who has studied Kermode bears for 20 years.
Liz Barratt-Brown, an attorney with the U.S.-based Natural Resources Defense Council, is urging the B.C. government to end the trophy hunt. "The spirit bear is important enough to us that it is represented in our logo and our 1.2 million members and activists want to know that bears are protected in the Great Bear Rainforest."
"The eyes of the world are on B.C. and the global campaign to end the trophy hunting of bears in Canada's Great Bear Rainforest will continue to escalate until they are protected," said Rebecca Aldworth of Humane Society International/Canada.
Ian McAllister, Pacific Wild: 250-957-2480 or cell 250-882-7246
Liz-Barratt Brown, Natural Resources Defense Council: 202-289-2404
Wayne McCrory, Valhalla Wilderness Society: 250-358-7796
Rebecca Aldworth, Humane Society International/Canada: 514-575-6797
*Douglas Neasloss, Kitasoo Xai-xais Spirit Bear Adventures:778-839-1241
*Doug Neasloss is in Vancouver at the Pan Pacific Aboriginal Pavilion during
the Olympics and is available for television interviews. B-roll footage
To download recent ads and map of the current black Kermode hunting area
* In 2001, Premier Gordon Campbell overturned a moratorium on the trophy
hunting of grizzly bears. Since then, over 2,000 grizzly bears have been
killed for sport in B.C.
*The globally rare white Kermode bear is protected from hunting, but the
black Kermode, that produces white offspring is subject to open season
trophy hunting in over 98 percent of its natural range.
* A 2009 an Ipsos-Reid poll showed that nearly 80 percent of British
Columbians are opposed to the trophy hunt of bears.
* The trophy hunt also threatens tourism-based bear viewing operations,
which generate considerably more revenue in B.C. than bear hunting.
*Coastal First Nations are opposed to the trophy hunt of bears in their
List of organizations supporting an end to the trophy hunt:
Humane Society International/Canada
Humane Society of the United States
Wildlife Land Trust
Coastal First Nations
Sierra Club BC
Western Canada Wilderness Committee
David Suzuki Foundation
The Spirit Bear Youth Coalition
Valhalla Wilderness Society
Animal Rights Sweden
Freedom for Animals - Croatia
Brigitte Bardot Foundation - France
Franz Weber Foundation - Switzerland
Global Action in the Interest of Animals (GAIA) - Belgium
Fundacion para la Adopcion, Apadrinamiento y Defensa de los Animales (FAADA)
Four Paws (International)
Respect for Animals - UK
Commercial Bear Viewing Association of British Columbia
Friends of the Earth
Vancouver Humane Society
Natural Resources Defense Council
Hancock Wildlife Foundation