August 15, 2017
VANCOUVER — B.C.’s cancellation of the grizzly bear trophy hunt is a good step but a loophole that allows hunting the bears for meat is cause for concern, according to the David Suzuki Foundation. The province-wide ban goes into effect on November 30, following this year’s hunting season. It will not prohibit hunters from killing grizzly bears for meat outside of the Great Bear Rainforest.
“We really hoped provisions to ban the hunt in the Great Bear Rainforest would apply to the whole province,” said David Suzuki Foundation Ontario and Northern Canada director Faisal Moola. “The government’s decision means hundreds of grizzly bears will be spared, and that is welcome news. Their pelts, paws, heads and other body parts will no longer be displayed by foreign or local hunters as trophies.”
Bear experts have long known that keeping grizzly populations healthy means protecting their habitat and ensuring humans do not needlessly kill them.
“Although this decision will help reduce the numbers of grizzly bears killed by humans, the provision allowing them to be killed for meat means bears will still be killed,” Moola said. “Grizzly bears are a federally ranked species at risk and it is unclear how a grizzly bear food hunt could be regulated and enforced to ensure hunters do not needlessly shoot bears.”
The David Suzuki Foundation has campaigned for an end to killing of grizzly bears for close to 15 years. It has published numerous scientific studies on the controversial practice, mobilized thousands of B.C. residents in opposition to the trophy hunt and last year successfully convinced B.C.’s auditor general to open an investigation into trophy hunt management and other grizzly bear policies.
A century ago, 35,000 grizzly bears lived in British Columbia and flourished from Alaska to Mexico and east across the Prairies. Today, only about 15,000 grizzly bears inhabit B.C. and have been eliminated from the Lower Mainland, the Okanagan and around Fort St. John.
Grizzlies are highly sensitive to human impacts such as loss and fragmentation of their forest and mountain habitats by clearcuts, roads, oil and gas pipelines and other industrial infrastructure. Female bears reproduce later in life and often produce only a small number of cubs that survive into adulthood. Grizzlies travel long distances to find food, putting them at risk of coming into contact with hunters, roads, towns and other human encroachments into their habitat.
Unlike B.C.’s plan, the Alberta government has maintained a moratorium on all grizzly bear hunting since 2006. Grizzly bear hunting is also banned in the continental United States. B.C. grizzly populations remain healthy in many parts of the province, but independent analyses have found widespread overkilling of bears in some areas and at rates that exceed government limits.
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Faisal Moola, Director of Ontario and Northern Canada