The Canadian province of British Columbia announced an outright ban on grizzly bear hunting on Monday, one month after banning trophy hunting.
The new regulations ban hunting grizzlies for meat and trophies.
Doug Donaldson, B.C.’s minister of forests, lands, and natural resources, announced Monday that the ban follows the wishes of B.C. residents, including representatives of First Nations.
“It is abundantly clear that the grizzly hunt is not in line with their values,” said Donaldson. He said his department consulted with First Nations, other stakeholder groups, and the public in recent months about the hunt.
Who Hunted Grizzlies?
There are about 15,000 grizzly bears in British Columbia. Each year, hunters harvested about 250. Before a ban on trophy hunting in October, hunters killed grizzlies largely for their hides, paws, and heads.
Unlike most game animals, some places (including B.C.) allowed hunters to legally leave grizzly meat behind. This is because some consider its flesh very poor for consumption. Leaving behind game meat of most animals is illegal and considered unethical by hunters.
Thus, B.C. banned the trophy hunt in October 2017. But it allowed a meat hunt – until now.
First Nations: Still Allowed Grizzly Harvest
First Nations members will still be permitted to hunt bears for food, social and ceremonial purposes, and treaty rights, reported CTV News in Vancouver. The aboriginal Canadian group celebrated the hunting prohibition as an “important step toward reconciliation.”
B.C. Grizzlies Facing Habitat Challenges
According to a report by the province’s auditor general, “The greatest threat to grizzly bears is not hunting, but rather, human activities that degrade grizzly bear habitat.”
The expansion of oil and gas extraction activities, human settlement, and expanded infrastructure have reduced grizzly bear habitat, concluded Carol Bellringer, auditor general.
Hunters in B.C. spoke out against the ban. The B.C. Wildlife Association, a conservation organization that supports sustainable hunting and fishing, said the consultation process was unfair to hunters.
Jesse Zemen, Director of Fish and Wildlife Restoration for the B.C. Wildlife Association, said the government did not ask questions about an outright ban during the consultation process. Thus, hunters were blindsided by the announcement yesterday.
The B.C. Liberal Party also came out against the ban. “It’s sad to see the NDP has abandoned scientific-based decision making in favor of political calculus designed to appease U.S.-based environmental groups,” it said in a statement.