Even though the province has an estimated 15,000 grizzlies, the British Columbia government has made a decision that will leave big game hunters shaking their heads in frustration.

Said Scott Ellis, executive director of the Guide Outfitters Association of B.C.: “It is a sad day when we move away from science-based decisions.”

Not only is the province’s grizzly population strong, but estimates indicate that the province takes in over $500,000 annually in hunting licenses and limited-entry hunt applications. The idea that the province will recoup a significant portion of this income in “bear viewing” dollars is laughable.

As you’ll read in the B.C. government press release below, apparently 78 percent of respondents recommended that the grizzly bear hunt be stopped immediately. Of course, the number of people who live and work in grizzly country is just a drop in the bucket compared to those who live in urban regions of B.C., so this is yet another example of city-dwellers telling those who reside elsewhere how they should conduct their lives.

It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out in the future. Because the B.C. grizzly population is already high, and it will no doubt grow much higher now that zero controls will be placed on the animals’ numbers, the number of grizzly/human conflicts can go only one way. How many soccer moms (or hockey moms, this is Canada after all) will have to be attacked while hiking in the backcountry before the government decides that hunting the bears and controlling their numbers is a smart, science-based move?

Here’s the B.C. government’s press release:

“The British Columbia government is bringing an end to the hunting of grizzly bears throughout the province, Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, and George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, announced today.

“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,” Donaldson said. “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,” Heyman said. “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.”

“After years of work on this file, my colleagues and I are absolutely overjoyed this decision has finally been made,” said Adam Olsen, Green MLA for Saanich North and the Islands. “The results of the consultation were clear and government has listened. We couldn’t be more thrilled.”

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% 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.

Image courtesy public domain pictures

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