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’s mayor ready to run again

Colin Basran is expected to announce a bid for a second term as mayor Thursday

Surprise hot air balloon landings in Kelowna

Balloon with 6 passengers aboard lands on Blondeaux Crescent

Nitro Circus show hits Apple Bowl Friday

Kelowna’s Bruce Cook, who was rendered a paraplegic in 2014, will perform in his hometown

District wants Wood Lake swimming area to fall under its jurisdiction

The District of Lake Country applied to the province for a licence of occupation

Kelowna’s Apple Bowl, surrounding roads affected by show

Nitro Circus action sports show goes May 25 in the stadium

MLA pushing province and pharmaceutical to save Vernon woman

Cystic fibrosis patient can’t afford $20,000/month medication she needs to survive

Union calls on prime minister to step into ‘stalled’ Phoenix compensation talks

For more than two years, thousands of federal workers have been affected by Phoenix system

Judge: President Trump can’t block critics on Twitter

The judge had suggested that Trump mute rather than block some of his critics

NFL owners adopt new policy to address anthem protests

Commissioner Roger Goodell said the change was approved unanimously by owners

Update: One injured during shooting at a Penticton residence

Penticton RCMP investigating gunfire incident on Government Street

Unicyclist starts his cross-Canada trip in Vancouver

Taylor Stark started his journey May 7

Film Review: On Chesil Beach

Saoirse Ronan continues to shine in adaptation Ian McEwan novel about young newlyweds on their wedding day

Shuswap Lake just keeps rising

Regional district officials encourage those with vulnerable properties to prepare early.

Blues claim Maybowl touch football title

Kelowna squad wins tournament for second time in four years

Most Read