Canadian-born NHL player takes heat for killing grizzly bear
Published Wednesday, September 4, 2013 10:15PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, September 7, 2013 11:35PM EDT
An NHL defenceman is unapologetic after coming under fire from a British Columbia First Nation for killing a grizzly bear last May.
Minnesota Wild defenceman Clayton Stoner had a legal permit to shoot the bear, but photos taken of the B.C. native holding its severed head and paws have drawn criticism and re-opened the debate around the annual grizzly hunt.
“I grew up hunting and fishing in British Columbia and continue to enjoy spending time with my family outdoors," Stoner said in a statement. "I love to hunt and fish and will continue to do so with my family and friends in British Columbia.”
The images surfaced after a documentary film calling for a ban on trophy-hunting produced by coastal First Nations was released Wednesday.
The grizzly – known to locals as "Cheeky" -- was skinned and its paws and head were cut off, while the carcass was left to rot in an area known as Great Bear Rainforest.
William Housty of the Heiltsuk First Nations said that although the hunt is sanctioned by the provincial government it ought to be banned.
"It's up to Mr. Stoner how he wants to proceed from here but we'd encourage him and all other hunters to leave their guns at home," Housty told CTV British Columbia.
Coastal First Nations have banned trophy hunting on much of their traditional land, but the province does not recognize or enforce the ban.
"I don't think there's any place for this disgusting, barbaric, so-called sport of trophy-hunting in British Columbia." Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said.
The provincial government hands out 300 licences each year. Hunting generates more than $300-million in annual revenue.
"We manage the populations and the hunting approach to grizzly bears in British Columbia based on sound science and conservation and ensuring we maintain sustainable populations of grizzly bears in British Columbia," Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources Steve Thomson said.
Jason Moody of the Nuxalk First Nation says Stoner's trophy-hunt made him sick and angry and urged the hockey player to return with a camera instead of a gun.
"I want to talk to him," Moody said. "I want to try to change his mind -- I think it's a bad habit that he's got that's maybe been taught to him."
Stoner is not the first NHL player to come under fire for trophy-hunting. Vancouver Canucks forward David Booth drew fire last year after posing with a series of dead animals.
With report from CTV British Columbia's Scott Roberts