Letter from Tom Ethier, Assistant Deputy Minister to Ministry which Administers the Trophy Killing of Grizzlies in BC

From: Executive Division Office, FLNR:EX [mailto:FLNR.ExecutiveDivisionOffice@gov.bc.ca]
Sent: April-15-14 12:50 PM
To: undisclosed-recipients:
Subject: RE: Grizzly Bear Hunt in British Columbia

NOTE:Bears Matter’s remarks are in Burgandy

Your letter regarding Grizzly Bear hunting (killing is a more appropriate term. hunting implies that you are hunting for food for your table..killing implies you are taking a life of a living being) in British Columbia has been referred to me for a response.

Grizzly Bear management in British Columbia incorporates a variety of objectives that reflect the interests of British Columbians, including ecological roles, conservation goals, recovery efforts in areas where Grizzly Bear populations are threatened, First Nations rights for food, social and ceremonial purposes, tourism and hunting (and trophy killing for pleasure).  Hunting (and trophy killing) opportunities are only provided where such activities are biologically sustainable.  Under no circumstances does the British Columbia government allow hunting (and trophy killing)that threatens the conservation of any species. (Raincoast Conservation Foundation’s recent peer-reviewed study says otherwise :  http://www.nature.com/news/canadian-grizzly-bears-face-expanded-hunt-1.14914over killing grizzlies in the trophy kill twice a year has been going on for years and years )

The principles behind provincial Grizzly Bear harvest management ( to bring in licenses and fee revenues to government) are a population estimate and a policy choice regarding sustainable human-caused mortality rates based on published studies (selective studies that were not written for authorities to determine the ‘surplus harvest levels of grizzlies’ and have a large margin of error..very selective, not inclusive of all good population studies, road densitites, terrain etc..)  Because inherent uncertainty in these estimates are recognized, the total (i.e. known and estimated unknown) human-caused mortality rate is limited to between 4 and 6 percent, which recent scientific studies indicate to be below maximum sustainable mortality levels.  Other important sources of information, such as harvest sex/age structure and the spatial distribution of the harvest are included to ensure levels are sustainable (best guess on demographics of any population, no real research in the field going on with grizzlies or black bears because gov’t cutbacks and the assumption everything is fine with ‘surpluses of grizzlies’ hunting regions-never Ass- U- Me!)  Hunters have harvested (killed) an average of 272 bears annually over the past 5 years.(some years at high as 450-with the lottery system it is a crap shoot) This equates to an average of just ( “if it is so small a number then banning the recreational activity should not be a big deal?”) under 2 percent annually of the total estimated provincial Grizzly Bear population of 15,000.(no one knows how many grizzlies are in BC! Estimates range from 8,000 to 15,000 with best available ,or lack there of, of science/evidence)  Grizzly Bear population units classified as threatened are not hunted and the province’s objective for these units is population recovery.(these closed regions are along ‘open’ regions and unfortunately grizzlies don’t read road signs or know where the boundaries are to the trophy kill zones and the non trophy kill zones and poachers don’t obey the rules either or other nature or man-made threats etc…..err on the side of conservation should be the government’s guiding principle)

In the spring of 2009, the Government of British Columbia announced the establishment of three Grizzly Bear “no hunting” areas for the North Coast and Central Coast land-use planning areas.  This translates to 470,000 hectares on the North and Central Coast where licenced harvest of Grizzly Bears is prohibited, in addition to approximately 2.48 million hectares where the licenced harvest of Grizzly Bears was already prohibited.  This means that the licenced harvest of Grizzly Bears is prohibited on approximately 58 percent of the Central and North Coast areas.  ( this is a very good thing but as long as the trophy killing of grizzlies continues to be made legal by our government if and when these areas ever recover to approximately 200 individual grizzlies then I believe the trophy killing will start again.  Also the government in it’s wisdom just reopened a region against scientist’s better judgement in the S. Caribou bordering on one of these ‘no hunting areas’.  The recovery area was looking for surplus grizzlies to help repopulate the region but I guess that is less of a hope now? Maybe some grizzlies from the recoverying areas will wander across the boundary and be shot either this Spring or Fall? or maybe a ‘trophy killing’ will mis read his newspaper printed out maps of area and mistakenly kill a recoverying region bear?) Government announced the closing of specific areas to the hunting of Black Bears in the same region where there is a high frequency of the gene mutation that causes white coat colouration (the Kermode Bear).  Licenced Black Bear harvest is now prohibited in these areas and has been prohibited since the spring of 2009.  As well, the prohibition on licenced harvest of the white (Kermode) phase of the Black Bear has been expanded to ensure the prohibition applies to the white phase of Black Bears province-wide, not just on the coast.( thank you, that is very wise and I hope the region will not be over run with bears given what is written on your website about needing to ‘manage bear populations’ thru hunting.)

Wildlife viewing and tourism are recognized as important economic and social components of British Columbia’s resource-based industries.  It should also be noted; however, that in some cases, wildlife viewing could have adverse effects, such as the unnatural movement of bears from their preferred habitats and seasonal food sources.  The ministry manages game animals foremost for conservation and secondly with consideration for both wildlife viewing and hunting opportunities.( is it not a priority of the government to increase hunter numbers so that there is an increase of revenues coming into the Ministry? Would it not be fair to say that ‘hunting’ or ‘shooting’ at bears also has an adverse effect on them expecially if just fightened or wounded by a bullet? How many viewed bears have gone on to be a problem for the Ministry and Conservation Service Officers? Pls provide the numbers of injuries and deaths to humans by viewed bears) For more information on Grizzly Bear management in British Columbia, please visit the Grizzly Bear Hunting Frequently Asked Questions document, written in 2010, available online at:
http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/fw/wildlife/management-issues/docs/grizzly_bear_faq.pdf

Thank you for your interest in the management of Grizzly Bears in British Columbia.( my interest is in the conservation of Grizzly Bears in British Columbia and being as ethical and humane as we can be when acting as their stewards, now and into the future)

Sincerely,

Tom Ethier
Assistant Deputy Minister
Resource Stewardship Division

pc:       Honourable Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations

 

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