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B.C. man gives up grizzly hunting license after talking with First Nation chief

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Brent Sheppe always dreamed of hunting a grizzly, but one conversation changed that.

After 10 years of trying to get a special grizzly bear license, Sheppe finally got lucky. Yet after a decade of waiting, he’s decided he won’t be hunting grizzlies this year—or likely ever.

This past fall, Sheppe learned that he had been chosen for a special Limited Entry Hunt license in the Knight/Kingcome Inlet area in British Columbia. The odds of winning the coveted license were against him. This year, 324 people applied for the zone and only 59 were given the special tags.

Now Sheppe is giving up the license after speaking with Mike Willie, a friend of Sheppe’s who is the hereditary chief of the Musgamakw Dzawada’enuxw First Nation. Willie explained to Sheppe how grizzly bears are like to family to First Nations, and that losing a bear is like mourning the loss of a close relative.

“It really hit me,” Sheppe said in an interview with The Globe and Mail. “I never had the opportunity to go hunt one before, so I was pretty excited about this [hunt], but my views have changed. Something in my spirit has switched and I’m ready to start a new chapter and try and help promote saving these bears.”

Sheppe represents a growing number of British Columbians who are against trophy hunting. In fact, a recent survey showed that more than 90 percent of British Columbians oppose hunting for sport, while only 7 percent are in favour of trophy hunting.

Since 2010, hunters kill around 270 grizzly bears each year in British Columbia. In 2006, Alberta ended its grizzly hunt due to concern for the population.

As for Sheppe, instead of hunting grizzlies this year, he’s getting up close and personal with the bears in another way. He and his family will be going on an eco-tourism grizzly-bear viewing trip at the southern edge of the Great Bear Rainforest.