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B.C. government ends grizzly bear hunt

There are an estimated 15,000 grizzly bears in British Columbia. — Submitted photo

Reaction appears to be positive after the British Columbia government announced Monday it is ending 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 made the announcement Monday.

 “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.

 “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.”

On behalf of British Columbia’s grizzly bears, we congratulate the Province for listening to citizens, First Nations and other stakeholder groups and establishing a full hunting ban on grizzly bears said Rachel Forbes, Executive Director of Grizzly Bear Foundation.

“Ending the hunting of grizzly bears was the easy part, and we’re very pleased that decision has finally be made,” said Forbes. “We look forward to continuing work on the more challenging issues facing grizzly bear well-being, from habitat to food supply to reducing human-grizzly conflict.”

Forbes said that is not to say that the policy change will be entirely easy. It is clear the Conservation Officer Service will require additional support and resources to ensure effective enforcement of this ban and effective management of all wildlife.

“We’re excited that not only has the Province committed to ending hunting of grizzlies, they’ve also confirmed 2018 will include improving wildlife management, implementing the Auditor General’s recommendations, and enhancing bear viewing,” said Forbes.

“This is a great opportunity for the public to get to know more about grizzlies, through bear viewing and other educational activities that help us understand grizzlies more, and move from a fear based approach to one of respect.”

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. Reports say each year around 250 are taken by hunters.

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.