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B.C. bear policy called unsustainable

By Jane Deacon

B.C. saw an increase in bear trophy hunting licences. (QMI AGENCY)

B.C. saw an increase in bear trophy hunting licences. (QMI AGENCY)

Wildlife conservation experts will declare a date for International Bear Day at a Vancouver symposium held at the University of B.C. today.

Earlier this year, B.C. issued 1,800 trophy-hunting licenses, an increase over 2013, igniting a debate on the efficacy and ethics of hunting bears.

Artists for Conservation, which seeks to promote wildlife conservation through intersections between science and the arts, is the non-profit organization behind the second annual BC Conservation Symposium. Organizers hope the event will be a platform for experts to share information on the bear population in the province.

“We’re not specifically advocating against hunting,” said Jeff Whiting of Artists for Conservation. “We do want the facts out there so people can make informed decisions on whether or not this is the best use of our incredible natural resources.”

A series of speakers, including representatives from Grouse Mountain Refuge for Endangered Wildlife & Education and World Wildlife Fund Canada, will present on various aspects of bear conservation. They will also collectively decide on a date for the first International Bear Day, an initiative that will provide a framework for future conservation projects, said Whiting.

Faisal Moola of the David Suzuki Foundation will present research on the province’s bear-hunting legislation, the Grizzly Bear Conservation Strategy, which was passed 10 years ago.

According to Moola, the province’s laws are well-intentioned, but have essentially failed at the mission of protecting a species at risk.

By not taking into account other uncontrollable sources of mortality, such as contact with humans and threats to habitat and food source, more bears die per year than what the government legislates as sustainable, he said.

The BC Conservation Symposium is a lead-in to the Artists for Conservation Festival, set to begin on Sept. 26 at Grouse Mountain. 


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