“Through consultations this past fall, we have listened to what British Columbians have to say on this issue and it is abundantly clear that the grizzly hunt is not in line with their values,” said Doug Donaldson, natural resources minister, in a press release. “Our government continues to support hunting in this province and recognizes our hunting heritage is of great importance to many British Columbians.”
The spring grizzly bear hunt was scheduled to open on April 1, 2018, but the ban on hunting for resident and non-resident hunters takes effect immediately.
“Our government is committed to improving wildlife management in B.C., and today’s announcement, along with a focused grizzly bear management plan, are the first steps in protecting one of our most iconic species,” said George Heyman, environment minister. “We also want to promote the healthy grizzly bear viewing economy in B.C. and give everyone the tremendous opportunity to see these incredible animals in their natural habitat.”
In August 2017, government announced that, effective Nov. 30, 2017, it would end trophy hunting of grizzly bears and stop all hunting of grizzly bears in the Great Bear Rainforest. Government also announced it would launch a consultation process on regulations to support a sustenance hunt, while ending the trophy hunt.
Through the consultation process with First Nations, stakeholder groups and the public, 78 per cent of respondents recommended the hunt be stopped entirely.
First Nations will still be able to harvest grizzly bears pursuant to Aboriginal rights for food, social, or ceremonial purposes, or treaty rights.
There are an estimated 15,000 grizzly bears in British Columbia.
Provincial government staff will be implementing recommendations from the recent Auditor General report on grizzly bear management. The government will also be moving forward with a broader consultation process on a renewed wildlife management strategy for the province in the new year.
The Liberal opposition has condemned the move.
“It’s sad to see the NDP have abandoned scientific-based decision making in favour of political calculus designed to appease U.S.-based environmental groups,” said Nechako Lakes MLA John Rustad. “It’s clear the only reason for this sudden abandonment of a previous promise to allow a partial hunt, where population supported it, is because the NDP is feeling political heat for approving Site C construction to continue.”
Rustad said it’s important to note than 35 per cent of British Columbia was closed to grizzly hunting. Within the traditional territories of the Coastal First Nations, approximately 58 per cent was closed to grizzly hunting.
“Instead of allowing a grizzly hunt to be conducted in a fashion that balances values, the government abandoned those across the province who rely on hunting to feed their families,” he said. “If the NDP are continuing to ignore science-based evidence regarding hunting, British Columbians should be rightly concerned that further politically-motivated bans on other animals could be implemented in the future.”