Students at Glenlyon Norfolk School are trying to ban trophy hunting of grizzly bears in the province.
For more than a year, Marisa Smith, Giulia Giommi and Lily Wieczorek have been researching and sending letters to B.C. Premier Christy Clark, advocating for the provincial government to abolish trophy hunting on grizzly bears.
“The grizzly bear population is really important to the ecosystem. If the grizzly bear population is taken out of the environment, then the entire ecosystem will collapse and become imbalanced,” said Marisa, 13.
“It’s really important and we need to make sure the ecosystem remains balanced . . . We want to stop some of these issues that are really hurting the environment and that ultimately affect us and all the animals around us.”
According to Pacific Wild, an organization that defends wildlife and its habitat on the Pacific Coast, between 300 and 400 grizzlies are killed every year in B.C. by hunters who want their heads as trophies.
Thirteen-year-old Giulia had the opportunity to see grizzly bears in their natural habitat during a bear watching tour in the summer. As part of the tour, they climbed up a tower and were able to see 12 different grizzly bears going about their business within a few hours.
“We can’t just have a place where there’s some bears alive … all of B.C. should be protected, not just some of it,” said the Oak Bay teen.
Since then, the group has been spreading the word, telling local politicians about the cause.
In November they met with NDP MLA for Victoria-Swan Lake Rob Fleming, who was in support of the cause, calling the practice outdated and backward. A few days later, the NDP pledged to ban grizzly bear trophy hunting if they’re elected into office during the next provincial election in May.
“Government has become more and more out of step with its citizens. … We could be doing so much better, not just for the bears but for British Columbians who need jobs and who want to promote the wonderful tourism experience that our diverse regions have to offer,” Fleming said, adding the government should be focused on promoting bear watching, not killing.
“This is another group of students who are doing amazing things in our community and learning and becoming experts on issues that are things that our province has to tackle. It’s always great to see students learning essentially to become effective advocates and researchers on public policy.”
The girls remain optimistic they’ll be able to set up a face-to-face meeting with the premier to advocate for their cause.
In the meantime, they also plan on meeting with other NPD MLAs and do a speech about the ban to the NDP caucus in the new year.
The advocacy is part of the school’s United Conservationists Environmental Club, which meets twice a week to discuss a number of environmental issues. Groups are also working on helping tigers, penguins and sharks.