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Grizzly bear hunting ban gets some teeth


Whether you support the ban on grizzly bear hunting or not, at least the NDP government made it definitive.

In August, when the government announced it was going to ban trophy hunting of grizzly bears, it drafted up some regulations that had so many loopholes in Bill Morneau got jealous. The regulations said they were banning the trophy hunt but the government wouldn’t say whether it would stop issuing grizzly bear tags to non-resident hunters.

The announcement this week was pretty definitive … there is a ban on grizzly bear hunting, except for Indigenous Peoples hunting for food or ceremonial purposes (here’s hoping ceremonial purposes include taking the meat too, otherwise what’s the difference?).

But the ban is pretty clear. No trophy hunting, no hunting for meat.

I grew up on a cattle ranch so, for us, hunting meant sneaking on old Bessie and plugging her from behind. We never went hunting, but we killed animals for our food just the same. When I was a teenager, I worked in a slaughterhouse.

I’ve never begrudged those who hunt for food.

Trophy hunting is a completely different animal (pun intended).

Trophy hunting isn’t about sustenance. It’s about ego, power, and dominance.

While mankind has hunted since time immemorial, killing animals to stroke one’s ego is a relatively new phenomenon.

I’ve been on the killing floor of an abattoir.

We should be suspect of anyone who kills for fun.

I grew up in elk country. I lived in the Elk Valley and still own property there that borders the Elk River. Suffice to say, there are plenty of elk around (if we wanted to plug one, just aim a little to the left of Old Bessie).

Most of the hunters I knew growing up turned their noses up at bear meat. Maybe they were just snobs, but I suspect it was because there was lots of other good game around. Bear meat is more of an acquired taste. However, there are those who do appreciate bear meat, and for them, the ban will have an impact.

However, the numbers are pretty small. Of the province’s 15,000 grizzly bears, about 300 are killed every year between both trophy hunters and meat-eaters. So, it’s safe to say there aren’t a huge number of us who like to snack on grizzly jerky in the middle of the winter. In addition, black bear and brown bear hunting is still available, so there are some options if bear meat is a must have.

The the province’s previous plan for grizzlies was more of a ban on paper but not on the ground where it matters. This effectively ends trophy hunting for grizzly bear, and that isn’t a bad thing.

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