Minnesota Wild defenseman Clayton Stoner doesn't plan to stop hunting despite the backlash he has received after photos surfaced on social media showing him holding the remains of a grizzly bear he killed last May.
CTV News reports Stoner, 28, had permits allowing him to hunt in the area where the bear was killed. After the pictures of him "holding its severed head and paws" were made public, the NHL player released a statement saying hunting is a tradition for him and he has no plans to quit:
I grew up hunting and fishing in British Columbia and continue to enjoy spending time with my family outdoors. I love to hunt and fish and will continue to do so with my family and friends in British Columbia.
A documentary about trophy hunting has sparked debate in British Columbia about the viability of the sport, according to the report. While coastal First Nations have banned the activity on their land, the province hasn't enforced 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 licenses each year. Hunting generates more than $300 million in annual revenue.
It's a touchy subject with a wide range of opinions. The debate over what action should be taken will likely rage on for the near future.
Stoner isn't the only NHL player to get some heat for posing with hunting trophies. Vancouver Canucks left wing David Booth caught some venom for this pic he posted of him and his buddies with a slain bear.
Whether you agree with hunting or not, Stoner did all the work necessary to gain the proper permits to hunt legally. He was within his rights to participate in the hunt.
Based on Stoner's statement, it's clear the defenseman doesn't expect to change his lifestyle because of the incident. And as long as he continues to follow all of the required rules and regulations, he's free to continue hunting with friends and family.
Will the situation be a distraction for Stoner and the Wild?
Beyond that, the situation should only serve as a short-term distraction for Stoner.
The Wild's first preseason game is less than two weeks away, which means he should be able to put this controversy behind him and start focusing on hockey again.
Stoner, a 6'4", 213-pound enforcer, finished last season with 10 assists in 48 games.