The B.C. government is ending grizzly bear trophy hunting effective Nov. 30.
“This action is supported by the vast majority of people across our province,” Forests Minister Doug Donaldson announced from Hazelton on Monday. “We believe the action we’re taking goes beyond the commitment to Coastal First Nations made as part of the 2016 Great Bear Rainforest agreements.”
Premier John Horgan committed to ban the trophy hunting of grizzly bears in November 2016, and made it part of the NDP platform in the spring election.
“The Coastal First Nations banned the grizzly trophy hunt in the Great Bear Rainforest four years ago,” said Doug Neasloss, Chief Councillor of the Kitasoo-Xai’Xais First Nation on the B.C. coast, endorsing the NDP position last year. “A provincial ban is long overdue to stop the needless killing of grizzly bears for sport. Bear claws, hides and teeth are not trophies.”
After the Great Bear Rainforest land use plan was adopted, the former B.C. Liberal government began to retire guide-outfitter licenses in the region as territories were sold to bear-watching companies.
About a third of the province is off limits to grizzly hunting for wildlife management reasons. But the rest was subject to a managed hunt for resident and non-resident guided hunters that has been validated by independent experts. Former forests minister Steve Thomson defended it as a significant contribution to the provincial economy.
In a report released in October 2016, wildlife biologists from the University of Alberta and the University of Minnesota gave high marks to B.C.’s grizzly bear management, including the grizzly bear hunt lottery that attracts foreign hunters each year.
But activists called for a total ban. And earlier this month, BC Liberal Abbotsford South MLA Darryl Plecas criticized the morality of trophy hunting.
“In my mind, trophy hunting is fundamentally wrong,” Plecas told The News. “Like, it is wrong to kill an innocent animal simply so you can put its head on the wall.”
Plecas used the continued existence of trophy hunting in B.C. as an example of his party taking politically expedient positions at the cost of doing what he deemed to be the right thing.
-with files from Tyler Olsen