NDP vow to ban grizzly bear trophy hunt

Election declaration that grizzlies are worth more from tourism alive than dead will divide province, BC Liberals say

Mother grizzly bear with two cubs. Limited entry hunting for adult grizzlies is permitted in B.C. where populations support it.

The B.C. NDP is vowing to ban the trophy hunting of grizzly bears if the party forms government after next May’s provincial election.

Leader John Horgan said B.C.’s iconic grizzlies are worth more to the province alive than dead.

“We can look after our natural environment, respect the outdoor traditions of our province and grow the economy if we make the right choices,” Horgan said. “That should start now with a change in how we treat the iconic grizzly bears of B.C.”

NDP tourism critic Spencer Chandra Herbert said B.C.’s grizzlies increasingly attract visitors from around the world. “The wildlife viewing industry is booming in this province, and creating good jobs from Vancouver to Stewart.”

The election promise to ban the killing of grizzlies for sport was supported by Doug Neasloss, Chief Councillor of the Kitasoo/Xai’Xais, who said the Coastal First Nations declared a ban on all but traditional aboriginal bear hunting in their territory four years ago. “Bear claws, hides and teeth are not trophies,” Neasloss said.

Forests Minister Steve Thomson predicted the NDP’s proposed ban will divide the province and split opposition party ranks as well.

Thomson said the B.C. Liberal government is moving to retire guide-outfitter licenses in the Great Bear Rainforest as territories are sold to bear-watching companies. About a third of the province is off limits to grizzly hunting for wildlife management reasons.

But the rest is subject to a managed hunt for resident and non-resident guided hunters that has been been validated by independent experts and makes a significant contribution to the provincial economy, he said.

“It clearly will not resonate well in rural communities,” Thomson said.

The number of grizzlies that can be killed each year is based on estimates of populations and sustainable harvest levels.

The proposed NDP trophy hunting ban doesn’t preclude hunting grizzly bears for food or ceremonial purposes.

“It isn’t really a ban,” said B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak, adding it’s no surprise the New Democrats aren’t promising to stop all grizzly hunting.

“There are resident hunter issues, first nation hunter issues that mean you can’t exactly make a ban,” she said. “They’re confronting the same challenges governments have always faced in British Columbia, which is the need to balance those passions that people have for an iconic species with the realities of what takes place in our rural communities and how people feel there.”

Polls have pointed to strong support for a trophy hunting ban.

A recent report on the B.C. grizzly bear management system gave the province good marks, but also recommended setting objectives to accommodate both hunting and viewing of grizzly bears, and investigate whether conflicts exist.

The B.C. government has felt blowback from resident B.C. hunters in recent years after a controversial 2014 decision to increase big-game hunt allocations for guide outfitters at the expense of unguided locals.

There are more than 15,000 grizzly bears in B.C., which accounts for more than half of grizzlies in Canada.

B.C. Wildlife Federation strategic initiatives director Alan Martin said the federation doesn’t object to the NDP commitment.

“We think that if you’re hunting wildlife that you should utilize the whole animal and that’s been part our policy and is consistent with this announcement,” he said.

Martin said the federation is more concerned about the sustainability of grizzly habitat.

“I think there are larger issues about grizzly bears in terms of the habitat that is required to sustain them,” Martin said. “We’re seeing lots of impacts because of accelerated forest harvesting and changes in salmon populations. Those are probably much more important to deal with than the issue of trophy hunting.”

– with files from Tom Fletcher and Katya Slepian

Just Posted

Kelowna RCMP search for missing senior

Cathy Wilson has dementia and was seen leaving her care facility in Rutland

Penticton baby suffers injuries from fall

Emergency crews responded to a report of a fall at a residence at 4 p.m. on June 26

Still months of investigation left into South Okanagan murders

Penticton came to a standstill on April 15, when John Brittain allegedly shot and killed four people

Busy season so far for Penticton Lawn Bowling Club

It has been a busy season for the Penticton Lawn Bowling Club,… Continue reading

Severe thunderstorm watch issued for Okanagan and Connector

Storms expected to develop this morning and intensify early in the afternoon

VIDEO: Driver doing laps in busy Vancouver intersections nets charges

Toyota Camry spotted doing laps in intersection, driving towards pedestrians

Every situation is different, jurors hear at coroners inquest into Oak Bay teen’s overdose death

Pediatrician says involuntary treatment necessary following overdose, opioid use

RCMP across Canada to soon unionize, according to B.C. mayor

A spokeswoman for RCMP headquarters in Ottawa says it’s not yet a done deal

Missing and murdered Indigenous women remembered at Okanagan rally

Red Dress campaign honours the memory of missing and murdered Indigenous women across Canada

Explicit sex-ed guide for adults mistakenly given to Creston elementary students

The booklet clearly states online and inside that the guide contains sexually explicit information

Driver has $240K McLaren impounded minutes after buying it in West Vancouver

Officers clocked the car travelling at 160 km/h along Highway 1 in a 90 km/h zone

Kelowna’s homeless population doesn’t have much hope of finding a bed at a shelter

Central Okanagan Journey Home Society says 300 people waitlisted for supportive housing

Public tip leads to seizure of drugs and weapons in North Okanagan

Concerned citizen spots male sleeping in car in residential area

Most Read