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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Felix Townsin, shown here with his sister, Lexi, who died on Oct. 19, 2019. Felix is a big part of a family initiative aimed at finding a cure for Blau Syndrome. (Photo contributed by the Townsin family)
Quest to cure Blau syndrome a family affair

John Stubbs student produces film for late little sister Lexi

An untitled Emily Carr painting of Finlayson Point was donated to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria by brothers Ian and Andrew Burchett. The painting had been in their family for several decades. (Courtesy of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria)
Newly public Emily Carr painting depicts well-known Victoria view

Painting among several donated to Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

An incident on Sooke Road is slowing traffic Wednesday evening. (Courtesy of Mona Hazeldine)
Sooke Road incident snarls evening traffic

Witnesses report two-vehicle collision

Janet Austin, lieutenant governor of B.C., was presented with the first poppy of the Royal Canadian Legion’s 2020 Poppy Campaign on Wednesday. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
PHOTOS: B.C. Lieutenant Governor receives first poppy to kick off 2020 campaign

Janet Austin ‘honour and a privileged’ to receive the poppy

Soccer player Ethan Finnigan juggles the ball at Oak Bay High. The Grade 12 student was injured much of last year and was relying on his senior year to score a scholarship and play at university. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
High school athletes remain on sidelines across B.C.

Recruiting for university on hiatus, future unknown

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps by 287, another senior home outbreak

Two more deaths recorded, community outbreak in Okanagan

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Oct. 27

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

MMFN First Nation has said that it will restrict access to portion of Highway 28 that passes through the Nation’s land until a road use agreement is reached. (Black Press file photo)
Vancouver Island First Nation blocks highway access to logging trucks in Gold River

Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation restricting access for Western Forest Products pending road deal

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
Rescued bald eagle that came to life in B.C. man’s car had lead poisoning

Bird is on medication and recovering in rehab centre

The B.C. Centre for Disease control is telling people to keep an eye out for the poisonous death cap mushroom, which thrives in fall weather conditions. (Paul Kroeger/BCCDC)
Highly poisonous death cap mushroom discovered in Comox

This marks first discovery on Vancouver Island outside Greater Victoria area

Cowichan Search and Rescue set up near the Silver Bridge in Duncan on Wednesday morning, Oct. 28, 2020 to rescue a dog from the Cowichan River. (Citizen file)
Cowichan Search and Rescue save dog from icy Cowichan River

Search and Rescue’s swiftwater team was called in

Premier-elect John Horgan and cabinet ministers are sworn in for the first time at Government House in Victoria, July 18, 2017. (Arnold Lim/Black Press)
Pandemic payments have to wait for B.C. vote count, swearing-in

Small businesses advised to apply even if they don’t qualify

A raccoon paid a visit to a Toronto Tim Hortons on Oct. 22, 2020. (shecallsmedrew/Twitter)
Who are you calling a trash panda? Raccoon takes a shift at Toronto Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons said animal control was called as soon they saw the surprise visitor

Most Read