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Research looks at why grizzly bear trophy hunting continues

(Photo credit: Steve Williamson via stevewphotography.ca)
Summary

Research suggests men trophy hunt for status

Rally calls for practice to be banned

VICTORIA¬†(NEWS 1130) – BC’s controversial springtime grizzly bear trophy hunt begins today, but it seems not everyone is so “gung-ho” about it. A rally is set for this afternoon on the lawn of the Legislature in Victoria calling for it to be banned.

Earlier this week, an Insights West poll found three-in-four voters in five rural provincial ridings actually oppose the practice. Those results align with an earlier survey that found 91 per cent of British Columbians voiced their opposition. Now, new research looks into why some continue to do it.

The short answer is: blame it on our hunter-gatherer forebears, at least according to Chris Darimont with the Geography Department at the University of Victoria. “Evolutionary anthropologists have found that, almost universally, men target not only large animals in a landscape, but also animals that are hard to acquire,” he says.

His research suggests men trophy hunt for status. “So if you could afford to do that, to go out and spend your energy, you have some underlying qualities that mates and competitors might want to notice.”

That status-seeking extends to the present day, with trophy hunters taking selfies in front of their kills and posting them on social media. “Whereas hunter-gatherers might only be able to signal their costs around the campfire,” explains Darimont, “the Internet provides for men these days an almost unlimited audience to which they can boast.”

However, he admits that status-seeking can go the other way too. “For those that are opposed to trophy-hunting, a strategy of shaming those trophy-hunters might have an influence on the future of trophy-hunting.”

You can find Darimont’s research in the journal Biology Letters.