Wild defenseman Clayton Stoner photographed holding severed grizzly bear head [PHOTOS]

Stoner has played for the Wild since 2009.
Stoner has played for the Wild since 2009.

Minnesota Wild defenseman Clayton Stoner is taking some heat for killing a grizzly bear in his native British Columbia and then being photographed with the bear's severed head and paws.

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Stoner, 28, says he had a government-issued license to hunt grizzlies. But aboriginals who live in the Kwatna estuary area declared a ban on "the trophy bear hunt" last year and argue humans have no business shooting grizzlies in a region known for ecotourism.

First, here's the photo of Stoner posing with the severed head of a five-year-old male grizzly nicknamed Cheeky, along with a graphic shot of the rest of the bear's carcass. (According to the Vancouver Sun, the shots were taken by two native technicians conducting grizzly work on the estuary that day):

You can view more photos here.

After the images were acquired and published by the Sun, Stoner released the following statement earlier this week:

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 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.

A report from The Globe and Mail details why aboriginals oppose bear hunting in the area:

The Coastal First Nations say the hunt should not have been allowed, because ecotourism is hugely popular throughout the region and bears have become so accustomed to people with cameras that they don't fear those with guns.

"My grandmother could shoot a grizzly," bear viewing guide Doug Neasloss of the Kitasoo/Xai'xais Nation said when asked how hard it would be for a hunter to get close to a bear like Cheeky.

Mr. Neasloss said bear viewing and bear hunting are activities that shouldn't happen in the same area.

"This is totally wrong ... allowing this sport to happen," agreed William Housty, a member of the Heiltsuk Nation in Bella Bella.

The Globe and Mail reports that the British Columbia's Conservation Officer Service "is gathering information to determine if there was a violation of the Wildlife Act in this case."

But some argue there's no problem with bear hunting in the Kwatna estuary. For instance, Scott Ellis, executive director of the Guide Outfitters Association of B.C., told the Sun that bear hunting regulations in the area are "not the First Nations' jurisdiction."

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at [email protected]

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