This will be the last hunting season in which people will be able to bag trophy grizzlies in BC.
Doug Donaldson, the natural resources minister for the freshly minted NDP government, made the announcement at a press conference on Monday. The reason for this ban is public opinion, not sustainability, Donaldson said.
"It's not a matter of numbers, it's a matter of society has come to the point in BC where they are no longer in favour of the grizzly bear trophy hunt."
The western province has a population of about 15,000 grizzlies and the hunting season allows hunters to kill about 250 of those—a number that is considered sustainable. The Vancouver Sun reports that the hunt annually brought in about $540,000 in revenue for the government—$40,000 of which went back to conservationists.
The ban also has outlawed grizzly hunting in the area that is colloquially known as "Great Bear Rainforest." While the hunting of bears for trophy has been banned, the hunting of bears for meat has not. Both the bears hunted for meat and trophy come out of the same 250 and only about 170 of those are killed by resident hunters—the other 80 are killed by foreign hunters who are taken out by hunting guides.
The trophy hunt has long been a target of environmentalists who view it as a barbaric act and want to see it gone. Some conservationists, while happy about the change, are worried that hunters will use the legal hunting of grizzlies for meat as a loophole.
"Virtually no one hunts grizzlies for food," reads the statement. "Killing these bears is strictly a recreational hunt for trophies and 'sport.'"
The province is attempting to counter these loopholes by not allowing the hunters who bag the bears to keep the head, the paws, or the hide of the grizzly. The leader of BC Green Party, Andrew Weaver, also slammed the decision, saying that "it appears to me that the NDP were trying to play to environmental voters in the election campaign without thinking through their policies."
"Foreign hunters will still be able to shoot grizzlies in British Columbia, take a picture of themselves standing over the dead beast, and head back home without harvesting any of the animal," reads his statement.
The exact outlines of how policing of the hunts would work is not yet known but Donaldson said the government will be consulting with First Nations and other stakeholder groups moving forward.
The ban will be set in place on November 30 of this year.
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