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BC Grizzly Bear Hunt Ends – First Nations Exemptions

Victoria – The British Columbia government is bringing an end to the hunting of grizzly bears throughout the province. The announcement was made Monday morning by  Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, and George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy..

“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.

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. 

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.

Summary of grizzly bear engagement process

In August 2017, the Government of British Columbia made a public commitment to close the grizzly bear hunt in the Great Bear Rainforest and end grizzly bear trophy hunting in the remainder of the province after the 2017 fall grizzly bear hunt concluded on Nov. 30, 2017.

Two policy intent papers were developed and made available to key stakeholder groups and First Nations for their input, and several meetings were held. A total of 4,180 emails were received. Very few respondents simply supported the ban on the trophy hunt as proposed. The majority of responses were from those requesting that government “ban grizzly bear hunting in all parts of the province”.

Emails and letters were also sent to wildlife stakeholders and non-government organizations involved in grizzly bear research and management. Several meetings were held with most of these organizations and some letters were also received. Many of the same issues that were raised during public engagement were also raised by stakeholders.

Emails and letters were also sent to more than 200 First Nations throughout the province regarding the grizzly bear trophy hunting ban. This included 41 First Nations that either overlap or are adjacent to the Great Bear Rainforest. Meetings were also set up with First Nations. Treaty First Nations will continue to be able to harvest grizzly bears and possess all parts of grizzly bears when the harvest is done, pursuant to treaty rights.

Summary of Feedback – The issues raised, in descending order of frequency, included:

  • Hunt is no longer appropriate
  • Too many loopholes in the proposed regulations
  • Wasteful to leave anything behind after an animal is killed
  • Lack of significance of the meat hunt for grizzly bears
  • Economics of grizzly bear hunting
  • Hunting as a management tool
  • Population dynamics of grizzly bear
  • Need to focus on habitat management of grizzly bear
  • Urban/rural split around grizzly bear hunting
  • Hunting by First Nations
  • Lack of enforcement
  • Trophy terminology

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