Movie telling the story of a bear shot by B.C. born NHLer screened in Vancouver

A movie telling the story of a grizzly bear shot and killed by a B.C.-born NHL player was screened in Vancouver this morning.

Minnesota Wild defensemen Clayton Stoner is in hot water after a photo showing him holding the head of a grizzly bear was released yesterday.

While the movie called “Bear Witness” does not make a mention of Stoner and blurs out his face in the photos showing the incident, it talks extensively about the bear involved – 5-year-old nicknamed ‘Cheeky.’

Killing grizzly bears is legal for licensed hunters in B.C. But in September of last year, Coastal First Nations announced a ban on trophy bear hunting in their traditional territories.

In a statement released after the photo leaked, Stoner claims he has grown up hunting in B.C. and had a license when he hunted down the bear in May.

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Councillor Doug Neasloss with Coastal First Nations was involved in movie production and says they have nothing to do with the leaking of the photo, and the timing of the movie release is a pure coincidence.

“I don’t know if we want to call it good timing. Obviously we want our message to be around bear hunting in general,” says Neasloss. “I think Clayton Stoner has become the face of this bear hunt.”

Neasloss says since the hunt was legal under the provincial law, it is unlikely Stoner will be penalized for ignoring the First Nations hunting ban.

“To tell you the truth, I would love to go and write the guy a $10,000 ticket.”

But Neasloss says Stoner is just one hunter and the movie is about trophy hunting in general.

“At the end of the day, we want to send the message out to people around the world that trophy hunting is closed in the Great Bear Rainforest. It is an unacceptable sport.”

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Neasloss says over a hundred bears are shot in the Great Bear Rainforest every year as part of the trophy hunt, and he hopes the movie will spread awareness around the topic.

“I think a lot of people just do not know that the hunting still occurs. We market our province as ‘Super, Natural British Columbia,’ but we still issue licenses to go shoot bears. I think if people in British Columbia knew what was going on, they would be more vocal.”

To learn more about the movie, go here.

With files from Justin McElroy