Up until recently, Clayton Stoner's worst offence to British Columbians was playing for the Minnesota Wild. He's a native of Port McNeill; and what proud B.C. citizen is going to find fault with a hockey-playing Stoner?
But that was before he killed Cheeky.
The Minnesota Wild defenceman has become embroiled in controversy after a trophy successful hunting expedition in which he killed an adult male grizzly in B.C.'s Kwatna River estuary between Bella Coola and Bella Bella.
The locals were horrified on two counts. For one thing, back in September of 2012, they declared a “ban on the trophy bear hunt” declaring that they would “protect bears from cruel and unsustainable trophy hunts by any and all means." Unfortunately, the B.C. government didn't recognize their ban, and continued to grant licenses in opposition to it.
Stoner defended his right to hunt the grizzly, having been granted one such license through a limited-entry lottery system.
“I grew up hunting and fishing in British Columbia and continue to enjoy spending time with my family outdoors,” said Stoner, 28. “I applied for and received a grizzly bear hunting licence through a British Columbia limited-entry lottery last winter and shot a grizzly bear with my licence while hunting with my father, uncle and a friend in May.
“I love to hunt and fish and will continue to do so with my family and friends in British Columbia."
According to Robert Johnson, who works with a first nations coastal guardian watchmen program, he actually spoke to Stoner and his group and explained the unofficial ban, but "Stoner respectfully said he still had the legal right to hunt there" Johnson told the paper.
To add insult to injury, the bear they shot was one of the local favourites, a five-year-old grizzly that had come to be known as Cheeky because of his tendency to pop his head up in the local camps and stick out his tongue. That's all well and good when everybody's friendly to you, of course, but in a hostile environment, popping your head up and sticking out your tongue is a bad way to go.
And so Cheeky's head now belongs to Stoner. As for the rest of Cheeky's body, Coastal First Nations said in a release that it was "skinned and left to rot in a field."