Earlier today, 10 Canadian Native First Nations declared a ban on trophy bear hunting in their territory. For years, the tribes have solicited the government of the western Canadian province of British Columbia (B.C.) to take a similar action to no avail, so they have now declared their own moratorium.
However, a spokesman for the coalition of tribes, William Housty, said the First Nations cannot write citations for hunting on their land without the backing of the local government. British Columbian officials have shown no support of the ban.
“Because we have not ceded any of this land to anybody, we feel that we have a voice and should have a voice in how these lands are managed and this includes the bear hunt,” Housty told the CBC. He added that bear hunting threatens their ecotourist bear-watching industry.
Numerous outfitters in the area currently offer both grizzly and black bear hunts. The hunting industry contributes about $350 million to the province annually, according to Steve Thomson, B.C. Minister of Forests. About $120 million of that is commercial revenue from the guides and outfitting business, according to Scott Ellis, executive director of the Guide Outfitters Association of British Columbia.
Ellis said that B.C.’s hunting is science-based and does not harm the bear population. He told The Globe and Mail that only about 2 percent of the overall bear population is taken by hunters.
Minister Thomson said that 58 percent of the First Nations’ coastal territory is already closed to grizzly bear hunting. He also stated that the government has already implemented ecosystem-based management that takes into consideration the salmon run and how it affects bears and other species.