Environmentalists from the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom called for an end to grizzly bear hunting in British Columbia during a news conference in Missoula Wednesday.
Using the winter meeting of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee to call attention to their cause, the activists said an "out-of-control hunt" in British Columbia is threatening bears in the United States.
All but one of the grizzly populations in the lower 48 states - the Yellowstone - is shared with British Columbia. Grizzlies migrate freely back and forth across the border. At least one grizzly radio-collared by U.S. bear managers has been killed by hunters in Canada.
"We have documented the destruction of grizzly bears and their habitat in both Canada and the United States," said Darrell Geist of Missoula's Cold Mountain, Cold Rivers group. "Taking the grizzly bear out of the hunter's crosshairs is a critical first step in halting their extinction on both sides of the border."
Craig Bennett, an endangered species campaigner for the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency, warned the British Columbia government against any "half-measures."
"The science used by the B.C. government in bear hunting management is fundamentally flawed," he said. "There is an urgent need for a moratorium on sport hunting, and a comprehensive review of population status and threats to the species."
Said Jana Thomas, a campaigner for Canada's Bear Watch, "Given the scientific consensus that the grizzly bear is a threatened species, and given the repeated warnings from scientists about population decline, it seems incredible that the B.C. government is clinging to such an outdated pro-hunting policy."
- Sherry Devlin, Missoulian