The province’s recent ban on grizzly hunting has pleased many environmental groups, First Nations and members of the public; however, some avid hunters, guide outfitters and politicians are not as satisfied.
John Rustad, MLA for Nechako Lakes, and Peter Milobar, MLA for Kamloops-North Thompson, issued a joint statement last week criticizing the decision.
“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,” they said. “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.”
The MLAs added that British Columbians should be rightly concerned that further politically-motivated bans on other animals could be implemented in the future.
“It’s important to note that approximately 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,” they continued. “The B.C. NDP had an option – continue to support a balanced approach that eliminates trophy hunting but allows an important industry continue.”
Burns Lake avid hunter Ed Thompson said he also does not agree with the ban. Thomson said many people look at this issue putting their “feelings first,” rather then looking at the facts.
“Our province has done a great job at grizzly bear management, up until now,” he said. “Every year we hear of people being mauled by grizzly bears, those numbers are going to rise, and it won’t only be the people exploring the back country; soon, grizzly bears with be making their way closer to our town and our homes, just as black bears do.”
Thomson added that the term ‘trophy hunting’ means different things for different people.
“The people who label trophy hunting as a bad thing have absolutely no clue what a trophy hunter actually is,” he said. “Personally, I don’t agree with leaving the animal behind and only taking the fur, like how our regulation use to be; I do think that needed to be changed.”
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. First Nations will still be able to harvest grizzly bears pursuant to Aboriginal rights for food, social, or ceremonial purposes, or treaty rights.
“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, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. “Our government continues to support hunting in this province and recognizes our hunting heritage is of great importance to many British Columbians.”
Through the consultation process with First Nations, stakeholder groups and the public, 78 per cent of respondents recommended the hunt be stopped entirely, according to the province.
There are an estimated 15,000 grizzly bears in B.C.
The range of grizzly bears in B.C. is partitioned into 56 population units (GBPU). Burns Lake is located in the Francois GBPU. With an estimated grizzly population of 58 bears, the Francois GBPU was closed for grizzly hunt in 2012 as a result of its low population estimate.
Hunting was permitted in some portions of the Bulkley-Lakes GBPU. There were 136 authorizations issued in 2016 for the Bulkley-Lakes GBPU. From those authorizations, eight grizzly bears were harvested.