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This Article is part of the Trophy Hunt special report See the full report

Grizzly bears seen as gold for mining, B.C. gov't emails reveal

FOI investigation reveals that senior B.C. bureaucrats seized on the province's rising grizzly bear numbers —disputed by researchers—to "mitigate” the impacts of mining

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grizzly bear andrew wright vancouver observer trophy hunt

Grizzly bears photographed by Andrew Wright.

Pipelines, mining, fracking and logging leave bears vulnerable

But more bothersome, said Moola, is that new mines would mean more roads for hunters to drive in and kill an already threatened grizzly population in B.C. — one of the last places on the planet where the apex predators roam.

"Despite being large and ferocious animals, they are incredibly vulnerable to human activities," he added.

He says B.C. grizzlies are mainly killed in two ways: 90 per cent from hunters, and the rest from industry "punching roads into their wilderness habitat" to create access for logging, fracking, mines and pipelines.

Bears get hit by trucks, trains, and get into conflict with people at dumps and work camps where they are often shot as problem bears, he added.

One study found grizzly bears in central B.C. tended to die close to roads.

Provincial briefing notes also reveal ministers were given message tracks that said the trophy hunt was based on "sound science" — wording repeated to a Global TV reporter when asked if the shooting of grizzlies just for sport was immoral.  

The province maintains its grizzly counts passed the sniff test in peer-reviewed studies in scientific publications.

Still, the FOI e-mails also show BC officials scrambling to respond to an increasing maelstrom of negative media reports about the Liberals plan to re-open the grizzly hunt.  

The Caribou wilderness area had been off-limits to grizzly hunters since 2000, due to over kills by people.

“We are getting some press over the proposed grizzly regs that have gone up on our website.  Can some one make sure Minister Bill Bennett is fully briefed and aware of this?  Thanks,” wrote Forestry, Lands and Natural Resources Minister Steve Thomson on Dec.9, 2013 to his staff. 

Government biologists bristled at news reports attacking their models that said their bear numbers do not add up.

“The Canadian Press sure lapped it up, anything critical of the grizzly bear hunt gets top billing,” wrote the government's wildlife research ecologist Bruce McLellan. 

foi email grizzly trophy hunt mining BC government Vancouver Observer

foi email grizzly trophy hunt mining BC government Vancouver Observer

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Special reports

Trophy hunt, BC bear hunt, grizzly hunt

Trophy Hunt

Ninety percent of B.C. opposes it. The government permits it. Caught in the deadly trap between public opinion and policy are BC's bears. Our award-winning team looks at the personalities and...