Message Board: Is military tradition worth the death of a Canadian black bear?

After last week's report about plans to replace the Guards' distinctive bearskins with synthetic alternatives, animal-lovers and traditionalists logged on to comment:

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As well as getting rid of the bearskins, I would also suggest removing all military icons that represent animals or similar shapes. Our military forces ought to represent more down-to-earth, humanistic icons and uniforms.


Tradition? The Grenadiers never wore bearskins until Waterloo, prior to that they wore mitre caps. They were adopted purely to tell the beaten French that our foreskins were bigger than theirs. There's no reason why we couldn't revert to the mitre.


British soldiers are dying in Afghanistan because of lousy equipment and a government minister is worried about the black bear, of which there is no shortage. The furore typifies this inept, corrupt government, and its bleeding-hearted supporters.


I live just outside Toronto in Canada. We are being overrun by bears. It is necessary to control the population by hunting for public safety reasons. Might as well find a good use for their skins.

Leo Jones

I want to know if black bears are endangered in Canada. And if indigenous forest tribes are supported by selling the bear skins they hunt? If we stopped buying the skins, would they chop down the forests to sell wood, killing the bears anyway?


New hats for guardsmen will help show that Britain is not a blind slave to tradition, but is a modern, forward-thinking nation. It's imperative that we re-evaluate traditions like this to see if they make sense in today's world. Bearskin hats do not.

Kip of Canada

As a Canadian, I can tell you there is NO shortage of black bears in this country. Your guardsmen could have not only bear hats but also shorts, boots and seat covers.

Gordon Marshall

As an ex-guardsman, I would not have an issue if the bearskins were to be made from a synthetic material. However, leave the design alone. They have been like this for nearly 200 years and do not need changing.


Just because something is "tradition" doesn't make it morally right or acceptable. Animals are not ours to wear – a fact that should be obvious to most people, although clearly it isn't.

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