October 5, 2015 7:51 pm
Updated: October 6, 2015 2:02 am

New poll shows major opposition to trophy hunting in B.C. and Alberta

WATCH: A new survey finds British Columbians are overwhelmingly opposed to the province's trophy hunt. Linda Aylesworth reports.

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While it’s no surprise both British Columbians and Albertans are equally averse to trophy hunting, a new poll dispels the myth that only those who live in cities oppose it.

In an online survey conducted by Insights West, 91 per cent of British Columbians and 84 per cent of Albertans said they opposed hunting animals for sport. However the poll, which surveyed 1,003 British Columbians and 590 Albertans, also considered other animal issues on top of trophy hunting.

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“There is a clear distinction between hunting for food and hunting for sport,” said Mario Canseco, vice president of public affairs at Insights West.

“The level of animosity when it comes to a practice like hunting for sport, it’s the highest I’ve ever seen. But if they feel the animal is going to be used in other ways, like food, then the numbers shift.”

READ MORE: Video showing grizzly bear getting shot multiple times during hunt sparks debate

The poll showed a large majority of residents in both provinces being supportive of eating animals (85 per cent in B.C., 88 per cent in Alberta) and hunting animals for meat, 73 and 81 per cent, respectively.

But surprisingly, the dislike for trophy hunting did not end when it reached city limits.

Canseco says there are not a lot of people — including ones in rural areas — who support trophy hunting.

But regardless of the latest poll, the B.C government isn’t taking the hint. Canseco says the feedback has been consistent over the past few years in the polls Insights West has conducted on this issue.

To him, it doesn’t make sense to pander to such a small contingent of people.

“When I look at numbers like this, you definitely see there’s a very unpalatable nature for this particular issue for B.C. residents,” Canseco told Global News.

“If they want to shoot a grizzly bear, they better bring a camera.”

But earlier today, B.C. Premier Christy Clark said she didn’t enter politics to be popular, she’s here “to create jobs for people all around the province.” Jobs, which hunting for sport creates, especially in rural communities, Clark said.

“We have a very, very healthy population of bears. It’s all scientifically managed. It’s very, very carefully done. There’s absolutely no threat to the population of bears and the hunt supports a lot of family-run businesses all across the province in very, very small communities,” the Premier said.

But for one life-long hunter, when it comes to trophy hunting, the choice is a moral and ethical one.

For 10 years Brent Sheppe has wanted to hunt a grizzly bear. This year, his name was drawn for a grizzly bear licence for a limited entry hunt (LEH) in B.C.’s central coast. Due to the government restricting the number of licences given each year, it was like Sheppe winning the lottery.

But after speaking with Mike Willie from Sea Wolf Adventures about guiding his hunting trip, Sheppe changed his mind. Now, the life-long hunter is going to go look at a grizzly bear instead of shooting it.

Sheppe’s decision to forgo a trip that would end with a spectacular trophy but leave his family’s freezer empty, shows some of the shifts happening around hunting for sport in B.C.

“It has something to do with culture and ethics and what hunting is about for me,” Sheppe said.

“For years, I’ve been a hunter-gatherer. To have food for my family but with grizzlies you can’t eat them… and I’ve always believed that if you shoot something, you should eat it.”

Sheppe admits he would love to take home a trophy like a grizzly bear and that giving up his chance after 10 years of applying may seem crazy. But for him, it’s equally crazy to kill such a beautiful animal and not eat it.

Instead Willie offered to take Sheppe out to hunt some deer to “fill his freezer” and then take him and his family to view grizzly bears.

“My kids are scared to death of bears and don’t want to view them,” Sheppe laughed.

“But if my kids don’t want to see them, maybe I can take the opportunity to take some other people up with me to come and see how beautiful these bears are.”

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