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The grizzly revealed: Bear’s natural history inspires both wonder and fear

By Larry Pynn, Vancouver Sun October 12, 2013 

The grizzly revealed: Bear’s natural history inspires both wonder and fear
BC Parks operates a free grizzly-viewing station on the Atnarko River in the Bella Coola Valley from September through mid-October.

The Interior Salish know him as Kelowna or Kee-lau-naw, the Sechelt as Mayuk, and the Nisga’a as Lik’inskw.

Alaskans call him the brown bear.

And to British Columbians he is the grizzly, a name that engenders respect, wonder and fear — sometimes all at once.

Even the Latin name commands attention: Ursus arctos horribilis.

No other animal better embodies the spirit of the wilderness than the grizzly, an animal that has no natural predators — other than humans and others of its kind — and is also the object of such unrelenting attention that it has generated competing multi-million-dollar industries designed both to kill it as a trophy and to photograph it as living keepsake.

When The Vancouver Sun published an exclusive photograph last month of National Hockey League player Clayton Stoner, 28, holding the severed head of a grizzly on the B.C. central coast, it released a firestorm of debate.

Coastal First Nations decried the shooting by the Port McNeill-born Minnesota Wild defenceman, saying he defied a large sign they had specifically posted in the Kwatna estuary declaring a ban on trophy hunting in the Great Bear Rainforest.

An unrepentant Stoner said he has been hunting and fishing all his life and that he had a legal limited-entry permit to hunt the five-year-old male grizzly, known to locals as Cheeky. And, despite a poll saying 80 per cent of British Columbians oppose trophy hunting of grizzlies, the B.C. government defended Stoner’s right to do so.

Lost in the controversy over the dead grizzly is the greater life history of the species — where it comes from, how it goes about its daily existence, and what threats exist to its survival in an increasingly populous and altered landscape.

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