A new organization of animal lovers has taken steps towards their goal of making trophy hunting a thing of the past.
Ban Trophy Hunting Ltd, an organization launched just this month in Alberta, put out a survey with the B.C. company Insights West on Canadians thoughts on trophy hunting, a selective hunt of wild game where the animal or part of the animal is kept to be displayed to show off a hunter’s success. The survey results were that four-in-five, or 80 per cent of Canadians are opposed to trophy hunting, and would support a legislation for a ban.
Ban Trophy Hunting Ltd reached out themselves to ask Insights West to conduct this survey to determine if it could be an important enough issue for Canadians that they would consider voting for a certain political candidate based on their position.
Ban Trophy Hunting Ltd also asked for numbers on aboriginals, since an amount of trophy hunting occurs on native lands.
For aboriginals, 90 per cent opposed trophy hunting and 84 per cent support legislation. For politics, two-in-five Canadians, or 39 per cent, said they would be more likely to vote for a federal political party that vowed to make trophy hunting illegal in Canada.
Mario Canseco, vice president of public affairs for Insights West, said these results clearly show that the majority of Canadians hold negative views on this type of hunting. B.C., for instance, was especially opposed, which may, however, be expected.
“Whenever we ask anything with the environment the numbers are usually higher in B.C. than the rest of the country. We do look [at B.C.] as a place where you do need to respect nature, and this is the kind of thing we don’t like,” said Canseco.
As a researcher, Canseco found the results for those willing to vote for a political party that would set a ban is particularly interesting.
“When we were looking into this scenario heading into the next [B.C.] election…you have the NDP which is trying to rebound from the last election they had. This could be a gesture that might make people reconsider the NDP,” said Canseco.
Ban Trophy Hunting Ltd found this to be an important issue to ask Canadians since the magnitude of this hunt in the country is not covered heavily.
According to a report done by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, Canada is one of the biggest countries for exporting trophies, with an average of 6,263.5 trophies exported per year with most of the trophies going to the states.
“This is something that happens in the dark, in the woods, in the mountains, where nobody can watch what’s going on. It’s sort of out of sight, out of mind,” said Mike Donovan, founder of Ban Trophy Hunting Ltd. “But, there’s animals that are being hunted to extinction here. Something has to be done, and has to be done fairly quickly.”
Some of the trophies that are the most exported out of Canada are the American black bear, the timber wolf, grizzly bear, cougar, polar bear and Canadian lynx. Despite the number of citizens opposed, the industry in Canada is estimated to make $1 billion annually.
“If there is this many people opposed to trophy hunting, why is trophy hunting so entrenched in Canadian society? It’s historically entrenched, grandfathered, but it’s sort of morphed into this sport where people go out and kill things for pleasure to mainly mount it on their wall,” said Donovan. “We just think that’s morally impudent.”
On the other side, trophy hunters can see their choice of sport as a financial incentive to protect habitat that would otherwise pass due to situations such as from farming, cattle grazing, forestry and human sprawl.
Trophy hunting, to hunters, can also be a way to provide employment for local communities within tourism with hunting tours and trips. They argue that these funds can then go towards helping conservation of animals.
However, Ban Trophy Hunting Ltd and those opposed don’t take the defense’s side as a reason to continue the hunt. Donovan has seen countries where wildlife has been wiped out, and he doesn’t want to see Canada end up the same.
“We have nothing to gain materially or in any other way from stopping trophy hunting. We just love animals and we want our children and our great grandchildren to be able to enjoy wildlife,” said Donovan. “We kill all these animals for no reason other than to thrill and kill. It’s a sickness that we have and that’s something that needs to be addressed.”
Going forward, Ban Trophy Hunting Ltd has a motto of ‘trophy free by 23’, to see trophy hunting eliminated in Canada by 2023.
Even though being able to now showcase this survey to the politicians gives some hope, the way for organizations like Donovan’s to get to this goal is by voters also putting pressure on the candidates to address the issue.
“We need political will,” said Donovan. “Quite frankly…what’s the purpose of having a planet if we don’t have wildlife?”