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Shot a bear in Reno, just to watch him die

Hate to admit it, but I kind of agree with Andrew Weaver on this one.

Strangely enough, so does Prince George-Mackenzie MLA Mike Morris.

Weaver harshly criticized the NDP’s announcement that it is ending trophy hunting of grizzly bears in the province … not that he wants the hunt to remain, but that it’s being done for political gain.

“It appears to me that the NDP were trying to play to environmental voters in the election campaign without thinking through their policies,” said Green. “What we really need in B.C. is science-based approach to wildlife management, not a populist approach to species management.”

He’s got a point. The NDP says it will end trophy hunting of grizzly bears, but it hasn’t figured out how yet.

The province will “consult with First Nations and stakeholder groups to determine next steps and mechanisms as B.C. moves toward ending the trophy hunt.” It should be noted that there will be an outright ban on hunting grizzlies in the Great Bear Rainforest, the rest of the province could get a ban that might not really a ban. At least that’s how it looks to me. I tried to get some clarification on how the ban will work but my messages (yes, I left more than one) to the Ministry of Natural Resource Operations have yet to be answered. Even a ‘piss off’ or ‘we’ll get back to you’ would be nicer than silence from the communications(?) department of the ministry. But enough of my whining.

What I wanted clarified was whether the province intends to stop issuing grizzly tags to non-resident hunters. That would effectively stop the trophy grizzly bear hunt since most (at least I suspect most), grizzly trophy hunters are from out of province.

Halting the issuance of grizzly tags to non-resident hunters will effectively stop the trophy hunt.

Pretty simple, pretty effective.

But the NDP also announced that killing grizzly bears for meat will still be allowed. And, in a strange twist, said resident hunters, i.e. those who hunt bear for meat, will not be able possess the hair, head, and hide of grizzlies. This creates a situation where resident hunters will leave those parts of the animal rotting in the bush, which is apparently way better than trophy hunters who take head of the animal and leave the meat rotting in the bush.

Weaver says non-resident hunters will still be able to shoot an animal, have their picture taken and go home. He’s right, unless the province stops issuing non-resident grizzly tags. There will be an easy work-around for trophy hunters who will simply have to take at least some of the meat. It will become part of the package they buy and the meat will likely be donated to local charities … showing the goodwill of the local guiding community.

That opens up the bigger question – is trophy hunting wrong if the meat is used? The province seems to think it’s OK.

I have no qualms with anyone who goes out and hunts to put meat on the table. However, killing an animal, my apologies to Johnny Cash, “just to watch him die,” has no place in a civil society … even if the meat is given away.

The easy way for the province to ban the grizzly trophy hunt is to not issue tags to non-resident hunters. While I support cancelling the trophy hunt, I’m not sure that will actually happen.

UPDATE: Two hours after posting this column I received a response to my query about whether the province will stop issuing non-resident grizzly bear tags. Here is the e-mail response from Vivian Thomas Communications Director, Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.

“There is currently no regulation in place that requires hunters to use the meat from grizzly bears. By requiring hunters to use the meat, but not be allowed to keep the head, hide or paws, government is ending the trophy hunt.  The exact regulatory requirements still need to be finalized, which will occur after consultation this fall.

“Minister Donaldson has said, ‘What we have eliminated with this announcement, as of November 30, in BC is the trophy hunting of grizzlies bears and we’ll do that by prohibiting the possession of the head, the hide, and the paws. Hunting can still occur for meat purposes but I’m pretty confident that with what we’ve introduced as a tool to end the grizzly bear trophy hunt that we’ll see the trophy hunting end in BC, and we will see the trophy hunting end in BC from the non-resident hunter aspect.'”

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