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This week’s mailbox: Bear viewing versus hunting

Bear viewing versus hunting

Bear viewing versus hunting

History of grizzlies in North America is a sad story of demise, and climate change will not help. We don’t have the right to allow this to happen when we can see and feel the mounting hardships grizzly bears encounter. Humans need to stop being predators and increasing stress on bears.

Habitat issues include fragmentation, human infringement on grizzly bear landscape, lack of safe ranges, access corridors, and the challenge of natural food sourcing.

Human-caused mortalities remain our primary goals for change in the Yukon. Our assessment priorities do not match up with the growing concerns over diminished grizzly populations elsewhere. Continued hunting for hides and big game trophies remain a threat to our largest and most magnificent bears. So-called “trouble” bears sourcing their natural foods in their natural territory are often needing to avoid human-bear proximity. Bears are very intelligent and can adapt, but humans need to learn how to cohabitate if they choose to live in bear country. A recently releaed video documentary called “Facing Grizzly” premiered last week on the Knowledge channel. View and learn how grizzly bears behave when treated with respect. We are hoping to get a copy and make it widely viewed by the Yukon public.

Natural threats to bears include drought, loss of natural food sources, accidents, internal parasites, fires and other bears.

Grizzlies have always played an important role in the ecosystem. They support, through their feeding habits, a balanced ecosystem within their territory, and help maintain regional wildlife balance.

Recommended mitigation measures in the protection of our remaining grizzly bears include:

1. Supporting and assisting in the development of a bear viewing tourism industry versus killing.

2. Investing in the protection of salmon stocks is a high priority along the west coast.

3. Investing in the protection and rehabilitation of orphaned or injured cubs under three years of age through a private sector bear recovery/rehab centre.

4. Stop issuing spring and fall hunting tags to commercial and local hunters.

5. Stop killing spring feeding bears along Yukon highways.

6. Stop trophy hunting and targeting the strongest mature gene pool.

Bear viewing is a multi-million dollar business in Canada. Ethical local small businesses reap the benefits. Bear/wildlife viewing is a resource and with passion, education and protection will adapt to ever changing threats, leaving the pain and guilt associated with killing only a faint memory like so many other hunted species now extinct on the globe. Human tragedies need to stop.

Changing the focus of the economy from hunting of large carnivores to more community conservation-based activities such as local guided wildlife-viewing and photography would be a giant step forward. A win-win for our environmental future.

Visit for more information.

Sue Greetham