I must make an overdue correction to Meagan Gillmore’s July 5 article, Friends and Foes of Highway Hunting Face Off. I never said that roadside hunting is unethical.
What I did say is that to shoot a grizzly foraging on the side of the road that has learned to trust humans and will not even run away, for the sole purpose of the display of its hide on a wall, is unethical.
I agreed with Will Hegsted when he stated in his July 26 letter, “hunting is not a sport. It provides an opportunity to consume animals that have lived freer lives.” Hunting is a realistic and responsible alternative to the consumption of animals suffering within our industrial farming system.
But Will, you aren’t making the distinction between hunting for meat and roadside trophy hunting. Perhaps someone occasionally eats grizzly meat, but let’s be honest: almost all grizzly meat is left behind.
That hide is ripped from that beautiful animal for nothing more than egotistical bragging rights. I realize everyone has different ethics, but surely you can see a glaring difference here.
I can speak from experience of the negative impacts such despicable acts are having on our tourism. The Atlin Road has a concentration of grizzlies, attracted by the plants growing on the roadside. The tourists who frequent the campgrounds I maintain in that area are ecstatic with their grizzly sightings.
Quite often I have to look at all their pictures. They are beside themselves with joy. “The highlight of our trip!” I have heard many times.
Now consider the effect on tourism when one of these trusting bears is shot, merely for its hide and the meat left in the ditch, as happened on the Atlin Road in Sept. 2009. To my knowledge, no tourists witnessed that bear shooting (although some later found the carcass), but word gets around.
In the following week, I had two groups of tourists (one from Europe, and one from the U.S.) come and ask me about it. They wanted to know if the person who shot this beautiful bear that they had been admiring was caught (their assumption was that such a killing must be illegal).
I was embarrassed to tell them, “I’m sorry, but that kind of thing is legal here.” They were speechless, but obviously appalled. I reassured them that there are many of us here just as appalled, and are working hard to change this law.
I shudder to think of the message taken back home. It can only work to give the Yukon a bad name.
So you see, it is much more than “unsettling or saddening to witness an animal’s life being taken.” Such roadside grizzly killings are an affront to people’s ethics. But even if you don’t share those ethics, surely the negative impact on tourism is obvious.
Let’s clean up our image with a law that ensures the protection of these magnificent creatures so they can forage our roadsides without threat of death, as is their birthright. And in doing so, we all get to enjoy their presence.