Coquitlam students plan protest

A group of Dr. Charles Best Secondary social justice students in Coquitlam are back at it again - this time taking up the cause for the grizzly bear.

The Grade 12 students have organized a protest this Saturday in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery over the province's grizzly bear trophy hunt.

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Student Michael Rasera said the protest is aimed at stopping the "inhumane treatment" of the wild grizzly bear population in B.C. The students will also be collecting signatures for a petition they intend to send to politicians in Victoria.

"We wanted to do something that is in the province's interest," Rasera told the Tri-Cities NOW, noting recent media reports suggesting there is greater economic benefit to observing the bears than shooting them.

Last year, students from the school's social justice class gained regional attention after protesting the Paramount Gentlemen's Club in New Westminster.

About 50 students solicited signatures from passersby at that event, while those in favour of the club voiced their support with signs.

Rasera said his class is hoping for similar attention with the grizzly hunt protest.

He's also expecting to get a lot of support from residents, suggesting a majority in B.C. oppose the hunt.

Students chose the trophy hunt cause in part because it has become a hot topic in the media in recent months.

The class will be in front of the art gallery from 9 a.m. to noon.

There are two separate trophy hunts in B.C. each year, one for B.C. residents and one for non-residents who pay for guides to escort them into grizzly habitat.

A report last fall by scientists from the Raincoast Conservation Foundation, the University of Victoria and Simon Fraser University suggested trophy hunting is threatening B.C.'s grizzly bear populations. The scientists looked at government data from 2001 to 2011 to determine if the province's grizzly management of human-caused kills stayed within pre-set thresholds.

During that period, more than 3,500 bears were killed out of an estimated population of 15,000.

More than 2,800 bears (including 900 females) were killed by trophy hunters.

Other human-caused grizzly deaths occurred through road and railway collisions, poaching and animal control actions.

The total kills commonly exceed limits set by the provincial bear-management policy.

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