NORMALLY when I scroll through Instagram I see inspiring images from around the world, or perhaps see an update about a friend’s kid. It’s not often I come across graphic words and images describing an awful truth behind a so-called “sport.” The below comes from Instagrammer Ian McAllister — photographer, filmmaker, conservationist, and Executive Director at Pacific Wild.
In short: A common tactic used to hunt grizzly bears for sport is to find active dens from the air. During the spring, when the bears are slowly waking up from hibernation, they will come and go leaving easily trackable prints in the snow. The hunters then wait outside the den and shoot them when they emerge. Often these are mothers who have cubs still inside the den, who become orphans. According to Ian, this practice is still legal despite very vocal opposition. If you’d like to have your say about it there’s an active campaign on the Pacific Wild website: Stop the Trophy Hunt.
WARNING: The below images are very graphic.
I recently posted an image of a grizzly bear carcass that had been killed for sport outside of its winter den. It generated a lot of comments, mostly from people like me who are outraged and saddened by the trophy hunt of bears. Many opposed were subsistence or food hunters who separate themselves from sport or trophy hunters. The comments from the pro-trophy hunting side questioned the authenticity of my post suggesting that the bear died a natural death, as if the bear managed to strip the skin and fur off of it’s body before putting a bullet through its chest. The day after I took the picture of the bear carcass I was hiking through the same range of mountains and spotted a beautiful bear that had just emerged from her den and was making her way down to the ocean to feed on herring eggs. Two rifle shots unexpectedly rang out, the bear buckled, her paws furiously trying to rub the pain away from her chest before she fell to the ground paralyzed. I ran to the bear and as she gave her final breaths we were met by these two trophy hunters. It was a guided hunt and the client was a trophy hunter from southern US. They did the usual “high five” and the guide shook the clients hand, congratulating him on having killed such a magnificent trophy, a "big boar” he said. I turned the bear’s leg over and showed the client what a female bear looks like. This one had probably just reached reproductive age. I asked him why he killed her and he responded with the typical useless boilerplate answer: “It has always been a dream of mine to travel to the northern wilderness and kill a grizzly bear.” He paused. “You wouldn’t understand.” I suppose he was right. I simply won’t ever understand what would compel someone to travel such a great distance from their home just to kill a magnificent animal, the second slowest reproducing land mammal in North America, and a female at that. They skinned her, now a rug gathering dust on a wall thousands of miles from her home. The grizzly bear trophy hunt starts in less than a month. Visit @pacificwild @wildlifedefenceleague to support the campaign to end the trophy hunt. #stopthetrophyhunt
While hiking near Nunavarchak in western Alaska a few years ago I came across the remains of this grizzly bear. It had been shot by a trophy hunter only 10 feet from the entrance to its winter den. A few weeks from now, throughout BC and Alaska, trophy hunters will take to the air to begin searching for active den sites. These dens are easily found from airplanes because bears wake up slowly, often coming and going from their den and unfortunately they leave tracks that are easily followed in the snow. Once located the pathetic hunters only have to wait for the sleepy bear to emerge before they kill it. The spring bear hunt is especially insidious because females are often killed with their cubs still inside the natal den. It is hard to find someone that actually supports killing animals for sport or trophy yet it is still legal and defended by state and provincial governments in Alaska and British Columbia. #timeforchange @bcliberals #stopthetrophyhunt @pacificwild