B.C. banning trophy hunt of grizzly bears

The Canadian Press
Linda Givetash

VICTORIA–Killing grizzly bears for trophy will come to an end in British Columbia, but not before hunters get one more shot this season.
Natural Resource Operations minister Doug Donaldson said the province is moving to ban trophy-hunting for grizzly bears, and will completely ban the hunt of grizzlies in the Great Bear Rainforest, as of Nov. 30.
But the current season that begins in some parts of the province this week is set to go ahead, Donaldson said, because hunting permits already were issued months ago.
“The main factor was the long delay when we had a placeholder government for four months,” noted Donaldson.
“During that time, the limited entry hunting tags were issued in June,” he said, adding guide outfitters also were issued permits back in December.
First Nations and other groups will be consulted about ending the trophy hunt before the bans takes effect to determine what regulations are needed to enforce the rule and how to mitigate any economic impacts.
“We recognize that there will be some loss of revenue in small communities from many aspects,” Donaldson conceded, though adding wildlife watching is an industry that could see potential growth.
The purpose of the ban isn’t because the number of killings is unsustainable for the grizzly population, but largely in response to public opinion, Donaldson said.
“People in the province have come to their understanding, their point of view, that the trophy-hunting of grizzly bears is not a socially-acceptable practice in B.C. in 2017,” he remarked.
The ban also fits into a renewed wildlife management strategy for the province and fulfills an election promise made by the NDP, he said.
The ban will mean hunters no longer will be able to keep the head, paws, or hide of a grizzly, but regulations on how to enforce that still are being developed.
The government said there are an estimated 15,000 grizzlies in B.C. and 250 are killed by hunters every year.
Of those, an average of 170 are killed by resident hunters while 80 are taken by non-residents.
But Donaldson said it’s unclear how many are killed specifically for trophy because that data hasn’t been tracked, and it will take a year or two for the province to determine that figure.
Wildlife advocates are applauding the ban, saying hunting and habitat loss are the two biggest threats to the species.
Joe Foy of the Wilderness Committee said 4,000 grizzlies have been killed since the previous Liberal government reinstated the trophy hunt 16 years ago.
“Premier [John] Horgan is to be commended for ending this cruel and barbaric blood sport for good,” Foy said in a statement.
B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver said while the ban is encouraging, it doesn’t fully end the hunt which environmental groups had wanted
Weaver said in a statement that the new ban also is viewed as wasteful by the resident hunting community because the hair, head, and hide of the grizzlies no longer can be used.
“I’m not sure how this will appease the concerns of anyone,” he noted.