The BC NDP is proposing a ban on all trophy hunting for grizzly bears in the province if the party wins the next election.
Opposition leader John Horgan said in a press conference on Nov. 24 that 90 per cent of British Columbians do not agree with trophy hunting, adding that sustenance hunting won’t be affected. The controversial practice sees about 300 grizzly bears killed by hunters every year in B.C.
Horgan said that killing the bears hurts the eco-tourism industry and that bear viewing is a booming business.
“This announcement reflects a shift in society’s values,” said NDP Stikine MLA Doug Donaldson.
Earlier this year, the party also put forward a bill called the Sustainable Wildlife Act that would support science-based conservation programs.
“It recognizes the fact that the Christy Clark government has not done enough as far as wildlife habitat, and resources to put into managing wildlife,” said Donaldson. “We had a two-prong approach. The recognition around society’s changing values around trophy hunting of bears and showing what we would do if elected to ensure wildlife and habitat management has secure funding — which it hasn’t in the past.”
Donaldson talked to guide outfitters in the area and recently attended their annual meeting.
“We want to work with them so there is compensation for lost revenue and work with them to ensure the wildlife species that they do depend on to a greater degree, such as moose, caribou and stone sheep, are given the proper attention from government in terms of management,” said Donaldson.
Owner of Double Eagle Guide and Outfitters Stewart Berg said a ban like this would affect his business and the economy in northern B.C., as people come from all over to hunt grizzly. Foreigners spend thousands of dollars to hunt for one. But he added that it isn’t just about the money.
Berg said the grizzly population is very healthy and the current regulations are protecting the bears enough.
“The quotas and allocation for non-resident use is very small, and even for residents the allocation is so small that the hunting of grizzly doesn’t have any affect on the population,” he said.
Berg said instead, the ban on trophy hunting could negatively impact the grizzly population.
“If there are less bears shot, then there are more grizzlies moving into where people live. You’ll end up having more grizzlies shot as problem bears, probably more than are shot by hunters now,” he added. “And that is a total waste.”
Berg went on to say that people don’t hunt grizzlies for meat around here because they eat a lot of fish.
“Even though you don’t have to, I always haul the meat out and I try to give it away, but no one wants it because the meat is too strong. It isn’t good to eat,” he said. “By saying no trophy, you leave the hide in the bush and take the meat. That is ridiculous because people aren’t going to eat the meat anyways, so there is no point in hunting. So then, if residents aren’t hunting them, there is going to be huge population, the bears get into trouble and then they are wasted by the Conservation officers.”
Overall, Berg said that a ban is bad for the whole province.
“It is much more healthy and there is more respect for the bear if there is trophy hunting because there is a reason for them,” he said. “There is money for them, money for the province and that money can be spent on grizzly habitat and studying them. If there is no money for trophy hunting, it devalues them and they are just wasted as problem bears. It would be a very negative thing to do stop non-resident grizzly hunting.”