Shooting grizzlies with a camera or a gun? The ongoing debate

Click to play video: 'Hunting bears vs. viewing bears'
Hunting bears vs. viewing bears
WATCH: There are two kinds of people who visit the Great Bear Rainforest: those who want to see them and those who want to hunt them. Tourism advocates worry that hunters will eventually destroy their main attraction – May 6, 2016

There are two types of visitors to the Great Bear Rainforest, those who hunt grizzlies and those who simply want to see them.

Both sectors contribute millions of dollars to the economy, but at what cost?

There is growing criticism about trophy hunting threatening the attraction that brings people to the region.

“We need protected zones,” says Dean Wyatt with the Commercial Bear Viewing Association of BC. “We have made a great arrangement with our outfitter and we buy the hunt from him when he has to hunt in our area.”

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He says grizzly bear hunting is actually a small part of the guide outfitting business. “I know it’s an iconic item for them but it’s very small on the dollar value for them, I don’t think it would be the end of the world if it was stopped, if we put a ban on it.”

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Resident grizzly bear hunting in B.C. brings in on average $6 million to $7.5 million. But concerns about the future of tourism in the region prompted Coastal First Nations to introduce a hunting ban four years ago.

A 2014 report from the U.S-based Center for Responsible Travel, argues bear viewing generates 12 times more in visitor spending than hunting.

But, the Wildlife Stewardship Council, a group in favour of hunting, believes the two can co-exist.

“You can develop a regulation which best suits them all. There’s ways and mechanisms that we can do that,” says John Henderson with Wildlife Stewardship Council.

How to do that, however, is still unclear.

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