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Poll shows majority of British Columbians oppose bear hunting on the North Coast

A poll released by the Coastal First Nations shows 87 per cent of B.C. residents support a ban on the trophy hunting of bears along the North Coast. - Douglas Neasloss photo
A poll released by the Coastal First Nations shows 87 per cent of B.C. residents support a ban on the trophy hunting of bears along the North Coast.
— image credit: Douglas Neasloss photo

A poll released by the Coastal Fist Nations (CFN) on Sept. 4 shows an overwhelming number of British Columbians agree with banning bear hunting on the North Coast.

The poll, conducted by McAllister Opinion Research for CFN, asked 805 B.C. Residents for their views on "trophy hunting for bears in the Great Bear Rainforest". Of those polled, 87 per cent agree with banning the hunt and 78 per cent said they "strongly" agree with the ban.

The members of the CFN — which include the Gitga'at, Metlakatla, Old Massett, Skidegate and the Council of the Haida Nation — formally banned bear hunting in their territory last September, but the hunt is still permitted by the B.C. Government through limited entry licences. Those who hunt bears will generally take the head, paws and possibly fur, but leave the meat where the bear is shot. The poll further shows those who identified themselves as hunters disagreed with the practice.

"The attitudes of hunters included in the sample are especially interesting. 91 per cent agree that their fellow hunters should respect First Nations laws and customs when on First Nation territory and 95 per cent of hunters agree that people should not be hunting if they are not prepared to eat what they kill," said McAllister Opinion Research president Angus McAllister.

"This so-called sport is a violation of First Nations laws and customs and this poll shows people across the province share these values. Trophy hunting for bears is wasteful and unfair," said Heiltsuk Coastwatch director William Housty.

The subject is one the CFN members are passionate about, and they say they will use whatever non-violent means available to stop bears from being shot.

"If I have to stand between feeding bears and people with guns, I will, "said Kitasoo councillor Doug Neasloss, who works as a bear viewing guide.

The issue of bear hunting garnered more national attention last week when it was shown Minnesota Wild player Clayton Stoner had shot a bear this spring and was photographed with the animal's severed head and paws. However, Stoner noted everything done was done legally.

"I grew up hunting and fishing in British Columbia and continue to enjoy spending time with my family outdoors. I applied for and received a grizzly bear hunting license through a British Columbia limited entry lottery last winter and shot a grizzly bear with my license while hunting with my father, uncle and a friend in May," he said in a statement released by the team.

"I love to hunt and fish and will continue to do so with my family and friends in British Columbia."

The poll was conducted from July 15-July 23, 2013, and has a margin of error of +/-3.5 per cent nineteen times out of 20.

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