Humane society slams Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq for tweeting picture of hunted polar bear

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics
A male polar bear walks along the shore of Hudson Bay near Churchill, Man. on Monday Aug. 23, 2010. Manitoba has made it easier for zoos to take polar bears from the wild and put them in captivity.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Last May, Vancouver Canuck forward David Booth caused a Twitter frenzy after he posted a picture of a dead black bear that he killed while on a hunting trip in Alberta.

We should probably forgive an NHL jock for doing something not so politically correct, right?

But what about a government cabinet minister?

On Thursday, federal Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq tweeted this:

After taking some criticism on Twitter, she defended her decision to post the controversial picture.

As explained by the Huffington Post, Aglukkaq — an Inuk — has long advocated for First Nations' rights to hunt for food and clothing, claiming that it's an important aspect her culture.

[ Related: Leona Aglukkaq attends her 1st UN climate change conference ]

She's also doesn't seem sold on research that suggests polar bear populations are in trouble.

"A lot of time, scientists latch on to the wildlife in the North, to state their case that climate change is happening and the polar bears will disappear and whatnot," Aglukkaq told the Globe and Mail in October.

"But people on the ground will say the polar bear population is quite healthy. You know, in these regions, the population has increased, in fact. Why are you [saying it’s] decreasing? So the debate on that … My brother is a full-time hunter who will tell you polar bear populations have increased and scientists are wrong."

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A lot of people on Twitter, however, weren't pleased with the picture and neither was Peter Fricker, a project and communications director for the Vancouver Humane Society.

"We appreciate that hunting is an integral part of Inuk culture, but tweeting photos of dead polar bears shows, at the very least, a lack of respect for the animal," he told Yahoo Canada News in an email exchange.

"It's wholly inappropriate for an environment minister to celebrate the death of a polar bear when, according to considerable scientific opinion, polar bears are faced with potential extinction."

Fricker added that, he believes, conservationists and animal advocates will be outraged by Aglukkaq's "insensitivity and poor judgement."

What do you think?

Was it appropriate for Canada's environment minister to post a picture of a dead bear?

Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

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