EFFECTIVE November 30, the British Columbia government will end grizzly bear trophy hunting throughout the province and stop all hunting of grizzlies in the Great Bear Rainforest, Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development Minister Doug Donaldson announced on Monday.
He said: “By bringing trophy hunting of grizzlies to an end, we’re delivering on our commitment to British Columbians. This action is supported by the vast majority of people across our province.
“In particular, we owe it to generations past and future to do all we can to protect the beauty and uniqueness of the Great Bear Rainforest. We believe the action we’re taking goes beyond the commitment to Coastal First Nations made as part of the 2016 Great Bear Rainforest agreements.”
There are an estimated 15,000 grizzly bears in B.C. Each year, approximately 250 are taken by hunters. While the trophy hunt will end, hunting for meat will be allowed to continue.
During the fall months, Donaldson said that government will consult with First Nations and stakeholder groups to determine next steps and mechanisms as B.C. moves toward ending the trophy hunt. Additionally, government will be moving forward with a broader consultation process on a renewed wildlife management strategy for the province.
“The key elements of that strategy will include dedicated funding for wildlife and habitat conservation and a collaborative process in developing short and long-term plans for wildlife resources,” Donaldson said.
B.C. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver, who has long advocated for action on this issue, said: “I am encouraged that the B.C. NDP are respecting the wishes of the Coastal First Nations by placing a moratorium on the hunting of grizzlies in the Great Bear Rainforest.” But he added: “During the election campaign I pointed out that the B.C. NDP appeared to be trying to have their cake and eat it too when it came to the grizzly hunt. They told the hunting community one thing and the environmental community another.”
He noted that this announcement will not end grizzly bear hunting in B.C., as many environmental groups have advocated for. In addition, this announcement will create a system in which not all of the animals will be harvested – resident hunters will no longer be allowed to possess the hair, head and hide of grizzlies. This will be viewed as wasteful by the resident hunting community.
Also, foreign hunters will still be able to shoot grizzlies in British Columbia, take a picture of themselves standing over the dead beast, and head back home without harvesting any of the animal.
Weaver said: “I’m not sure how this will appease the concerns of anyone. It appears to me that the NDP were trying to play to environmental voters in the election campaign without thinking through their policies.
“What we really need in BC is science-based approach to wildlife management, not a populist approach to species management.
“B.C. is one of the last strongholds of grizzlies in North America. There are a range of issues that affect the health of grizzly bear populations. These include the effects of climate change on essential salmon and huckleberry stocks, as well as road kill rates and poaching incidents. We must focus on broader wildlife preservation if we are serious about conservation and the protection of grizzlies and other species in this province.
“B.C. and Alberta are the only provinces without Endangered Species legislation. I will work with the government to ensure the introduction of species at risk legislation is advanced in the near future.”