Calgary elephant auction withdrawn, hunt still going ahead

Click to play video 'Calgary Safari Club cancels elephant auction, hunt will still be sold' Calgary Safari Club cancels elephant auction, hunt will still be sold
WATCH: A Calgary safari group auctioning off an elephant hunt in Botswana hit a real nerve with animal rights advocates around the world. As Jill Croteau reports, even though it’s been withdrawn from the auction, the hunt is still on – Jan 24, 2020

A highly contentious elephant hunt that was up for grabs at a Calgary auction has been withdrawn from the event.

Safari Club International’s Calgary-Alberta (SCI Calgary) chapter was under fire on Thursday after people caught wind of the fact they were auctioning off a two-week hunting trip to Botswana, where killing elephants for sport is no longer banned.

READ MORE: Calgary elephant hunt auction sparks outrage from animal rights activists

Animal rights activists called SCI’s bluff, saying their justification — that it was being done in the interest of population control — doesn’t hold up.

“The animals don’t have a chance on this planet when you have the wealthy and powerful coming together and auctioning off a life,” Shaun Hofer with Direct Action Everywhere said.

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The president of SCI Calgary, David Little, said hunting for population control was a “viable tool” that Botswana was redeploying.

Click to play video 'Animal activists plan protest outside elephant hunt auction in Calgary' Animal activists plan protest outside elephant hunt auction in Calgary
Animal activists plan protest outside elephant hunt auction in Calgary – Jan 23, 2020

In a Facebook post on Friday, SCI said there’s been “considerable interest” in the hunt, which led the group to ask the outfitter if the hunt could instead be sold privately instead of auctioned off.

“SCI Calgary wants to thank all those who have expressed their support of the hunt, including the people of Botswana to determine their future and the role ethical, controlled hunting plays in the long-term conservation of this majestic species,” the statement read.

For 10-year-old elephant lover Hurley Omelchuk, the situation is heartbreaking.

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“They’re super amazing and more special than other animals,” Omelchuk told Global News on Friday.

READ MORE: Protest at African Hunting Expo in Calgary to stop trophy hunting

Omelchuk loves the animal so much, he even fosters an elephant in Africa and donates all the money he receives for his birthdays to a rescue organization.

“I was super sad and I didn’t want anyone to hunt any elephants,” the boy said about the auction.

“I have no idea why… I think they want to do it for fun but that’s not good. There has to be other ways than killing elephants to keep the population in check.”

Global News’ requests for comment from SCI on Friday were not returned.