The province of B.C. has decided to expand a ban on grizzly bear trophy hunting so that British Columbians (with a few exceptions) are no longer permitted to hunt grizzlies for any reason.
“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 Minister of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resources Doug Donaldson in a statement.
Next year’s grizzly bear hunting season would have opened in April 2018, but now, open season on grizzlies has been indefinitely cancelled.
The decision was made after the government consulted with stakeholders, the public, and First Nations groups, and found that 78% of respondents supported ending grizzly hunting.
Some First Nations will still be permitted to hunt grizzlies, as it is a recognized aspect of their culture, ceremonies, and treaty rights, though Donaldson said the number of grizzlies they expect to see hunted by First Nations is very low. Coastal First Nations applauded the new rules, saying they are “an important step toward reconciliation.”
Adam Olsen, the Green Party MLA for Saanich North and the Islands said he supports the decision. “The results of the consultation were clear and government has listened. We couldn’t be more thrilled.”
However, some hunters’ organizations are not happy with the decision and say they do not consider the matter to be closed. “We’re looking at legal options,” Mark Werner, vice-president of the Guide Outfitters Association of B.C., told the Globe and Mail. “This will end up in the courts.”
But Joe Foy of the Wilderness Committee said that the new rules send an important message. “Some nations still allow trophy hunting for big beautiful creatures,” Foy told the Globe. “This is a word out to the world that says times are changing and changing because so many creatures are on the decline. We’ve got to start to look out for them, not kill them for fun.”
There are estimated to be around 15,000 grizzlies living in BC, about a quarter of the entire North American population.