Kootenay Artists Want to Stop Trophy Hunting of Grizzlies
Many people became familiar with photographer Jim Lawrence’s image of the grizzly bear standing on its hind legs and looking through a camera, when it went viral and caught the attention of the press. “The photo is like the poster child for a stop the trophy hunt of grizzly bears campaign,” says filmmaker Miriam Needoba whose short film Eyes in the Forest: The Portraiture of Jim Lawrence is on a regional tour of the Kootenays this fall. “The image encapsulates our love of the wild and watching wildlife,” says Needoba “The bear looks like a wildlife photographer mirroring our own fascination, and its marvellous intelligence and curiosity is revealed.”
The image has inspired Lawrence and Needoba to get political, and so they have launched a petition to stop the trophy hunt of grizzly bears in British Columbia, in response to an offer by MLA Michelle Mungall to introduce one in the Legislature. “Online petitions are inadmissible in the Legislature, so hard copies of names and signatures are required, making collecting hundreds of thousands of them a formidable task!” says Needoba. So the artists are calling on BC residents, businesses and organizations alike to also get involved, and download and print out copies of the petition and collect signatures and send them in. The petition can be downloaded at www.smalltownfilms.com. Or call 250 352 5905 to arrange to have some sent to you.
Trophy hunting is a wasteful practice whereby the carcass is never used. The head or pelt may be taken but the meat is not eaten. It is also in conflict with the laws of nature where by the largest, most robust animals are targeted by the trophy hunter, and thus removed from the gene pool in spite of a hereditary lineage that would otherwise make them dominate. Recent uproar over the killing of Cecil the lion has shown that public consensus is against trophy hunting, and according to Needoba, “You don’t have to be from Zimbabwe to see that the economic value of multitudes of wildlife-watching tourists is far greater than that of one trophy-hunter.“
Lawrence and Needoba while on a regional tour have been engaging audiences in a conversation about wildlife and their habitat. Lawrence often cites a London Zoological Society report (ZSL) that suggests species populations have been halved in the last 40 years. Here in the Kootenays an audience member recalls how fifty years ago he remembers seeing porcupines everywhere, but he has not even seen one in recent years. Large carnivores such as grizzly bears are particularly susceptible to the impacts of human activity, especially through loss of habitat and the obvious difficulties co-existing with humans, and that is not even including the impacts of climate change. “With so much to contend with already banning trophy hunting of grizzly bears just seems like one small step in the right direction,” says Needoba. “According to polls, around 90% of British Columbians oppose the trophy hunt. So it shouldn’t be that hard to get enough signatures on this petition to make the change.”