Clayton Stoner, a defenseman for the Minnesota Wild ice hockey team, posted the photograph of himself brandishing the gnarly trophy after a hunting trip last May in an area known as Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia.
CTV News reports the 28-year-old Stoner 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 B.C. native 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 applied for and received a grizzly bear hunting license through a British Columbia limited entry lottery last winter and shot a grizzly bear with my license 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."
But local environmentalists and animal rights proponents lashed out at his strong stance on hunting, branding his actions "disgusting and barbaric."
It's sort of ironic since the team's logo features a "nature bear" head made to look like the wilderness it roams.
Stoner and his friends shot the bear, cut off its head and paws before skinning it and leaving its carcass for scavengers in the forest.
But despite fierce criticism from wildlife supporters, Stoner remained unrepentant to their outcries.
"I don't think there's any place for this disgusting, barbaric, so-called sport of trophy-hunting in British Columbia,"said Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs.
William Housty of the Heiltsuk First Nations urged authorities to ban the bloodsport, saying, "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."
The incident has reignited passions over an issue that has long divided British Columbia. The provincial government hands out 300 licences each year. Hunting generates more than $300-million in annual revenue for the state.
Whether you agree with game hunting or not, Stoner — who finished last season with 10 assists in 48 games — went through all the right channels necessary to gain the proper permits to hunt legally.