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NHL star’s court fight over grizzly a ‘tipping point’ for trophy hunt ban


Grizzly bears in Great Bear Rainforest. Photo by Sophie Wright.

 October 9th 2015

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On Friday, a judge postponed a court case regarding five charges that NHL hockey defencemen Clayton Stoner is facing related to an incident that has become highly symbolic in a public campaign to end the controversial grizzly bear trophy hunt in British Columbia.

During a 2013 hunting trip to his home province, the hockey star was spectacularly photographed holding a dead grizzly bear’s head and claws. The incident provoked scorn from indigenous and environmental groups, but government investigators also believe Stoner’s hunting permit was not valid.

The hearing is now delayed until Nov.13, but grizzly bear advocates are thrilled —they see it as yet another chance to shine a bright light on the B.C. Liberal government’s permitting of the controversial sport killing of grizzlies. “If Mr. Stoner wants to (delay this) for the next two years until the next provincial election be my guest.” said Barb Murray with Bears Matter outside a Vancouver court building on Friday. 
“He’s an international hockey player. He’s famous, Canadian-born and bred, and held up as an example for kids. Wrong!”

“This is the most unsportsman-like conduct…and we need a huge apology, to First Nations who banned the trophy hunting, and now to the Canadian people,” Murray added.

On May 22, 2013, the B.C.-born defenceman, now with the Anaheim Ducks, traveled to the ecologically spectacular central B.C. coast near Bella Bella to go bear hunting in a boat, despite a Coastal First Nations ban on the trophy sport in that area. The B.C. government still licenses the hunts to both resident and foreign hunters.

That night, Indigenous patrolmen with the Coastal Guardian Watchmen got wind that Stoner and his crew had shot and killed a beloved local bear nicknamed “Cheeky.” Patrollers boarded Stoner’s vessel to snap photos. The NHL player obliged, smiled and held up the grizzly bear’s parts, in images that quickly became anti-grizzly-hunt propaganda.

Bear Witness Video with Cheeky:
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