Summary of Policies by Three Political Parties written by a bear conservationist.
Christy Clark’s BC Liberals:
The BC Liberals have been in power for 15 years and have steadfastly refused to make changes to their policy around bear hunting. They continue to authorize the slaughter of, on average, 300-350 grizzly bears and several thousand black bears per year claiming that it’s “science-based and well-managed”. They have now committed to end bear hunting within the Great Bear Rainforest. While this sounds like a step in the right direction, the important word is within. They have only agreed to work with Coastal First Nations, an umbrella group of 10 coastal first nations, to end the hunting of bears within their traditional territory provided they, along with Raincoast Conservation Foundation, buy out the commercial hunting rights at a cost of millions of dollars. This represents roughly only 1/3 of the area of the Great Bear Rainforest. For the rest of the GBR and BC it will be slaughter as usual. It’s unclear whether they will increase the kill in other areas to make up for the reduction in the GBR grizzly hunt.
Andrew Weaver and the Green Party:
Despite the policy stated in the Green Book (the policy manual of the BC Green Party) which is to “Ban trophy hunting and restrict any hunting of species threatened by trophy hunting. Eliminate sport and trophy hunting of grizzly bears”, Andrew Weaver continues to tout his “pack the meat out ” policy as an end to trophy hunting. The Green Party position is essentially that it’s acceptable to kill 350 grizzly bears each year as long as they pack “edible portions” out, take them to their home and pretend that they’re going to eat it. In a recent Vancouver Sun interview he also said he supports the Liberal position on the grizzly hunt and alluded to the possibility that they might have to kill some of the big males if there are too many of them. He continues to use deceptive language labelling “foreign hunters” as trophy hunters and BC residents as simply “hunters.” In fact, two out of three grizzly bears slaughtered for trophies in BC are killed by BC resident hunters. Provincial mortality statistics show that from 1978 through 2011, BC resident hunters killed 5,900 grizzlies while non-resident hunters killed 4,100.
John Horgan and the NDP:
The NDP took a bold step prior to the dropping of the writ, and said they would ban the trophy hunting of grizzly bears in British Columbia. However, they left some wiggle room in the language around that, stating they were leaving room for some BC resident hunters to get permits to hunt bears for food. Although that appears to leave the door open for BC residents to continue to slaughter grizzly bears as long as they “pack the meat out”, statements made by John Horgan in interviews since the original press conference indicate he is promising that these will be given out only in exceptional circumstances and may include a provision where they would have to surrender the trophy parts. So despite lots of talk about ending the trophy hunting of bears in BC, by all three parties, the NDP promises, while not definitive, appear to be the most substantial and sincere.
Here are some other really important facts to consider about the bear hunt in BC:
Despite claims by the BC Liberal government that the annual slaughter of 300-350 magnificent beings (who are defenseless against modern access and technology), is science based and well managed,
1: the gov’t population estimates that the hunt is based on are derived from extrapolation of a too-small amount of science and rely heavily on “local expert opinion” mostly from local hunters.
2.managers have continually, repeatedly exceeded their own kill targets, especially of female grizzly bears.
Despite claims that hunters take out only old mature males (most past their prime breeding age):
1. 35% …. more than 1 out of 3 …. bears killed for trophies are FEMALE
2. The median age of bears killed each year in BC is FIVE years old. HALF of the grizzly bears killed in BC are barely of breeding age!
In poll after poll in British Columbia:
– Over 90% of British Columbia residents don’t support trophy hunting of grizzly bears
– In rural areas where hunting is a prominent activity, 70-80% don’t support trophy hunting of grizzly bears.
– More than 75% of people who self-identify as hunters oppose the trophy hunt of grizzly bears
Despite clear, peer-reviewed, scientific evidence that removing top carnivores from an eco-system is an ineffective and often destructive practice, both the BC Liberals and (sadly) the BC Green Party support trophy hunting and culling wolves and bears as legitimate wildlife “management” tools.
The NDP, alone, have aligned their position on this issue around the values of 90% of the population of British Columbia. While I acknowledge that this is only one issue in this election, if it is important to you, I hope this information is helpful to you when you are deciding how to vote on Tuesday.