British Columbia Bans Trophy Hunting of Grizzly Bears
Hunting the bears for food is still permitted.
This is the last year that grizzly bears can be hunted in British Columbia for sport.
The Canadian province banned trophy hunting of the bear beginning Nov. 30.
The ban didn’t come about because the grizzly bear population has fallen to perilous levels, receiving endangered species protections. In fact, there are around 15,000 bears in the province and the current rate of hunting — 250 bears a year — was deemed sustainable by Doug Donaldson, the Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development Minister.
Instead, the ban is for philosophical reasons — people just don’t want to see grizzlies hunted anymore.
“[It’s] not a matter of numbers, it's a matter of society has come to the point in B.C. where they are no longer in favour of the grizzly bear trophy hunt,” Donaldson told CBC.
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Grizzlies have been hunted for sport for the past 16 years in the province, when the conservative Liberal party gained power and began issuing licenses.
Earlier this year, a center-left party, the New Democrats, took power. One of their campaign pledges was to end the hunting of grizzlies, which they followed up on soon after taking office.
The 2017 hunting season is allowed to continue because licenses had already been issued prior to the New Democrats taking office, but this will be the last year of hunting.
The specifics of the ban and how it will be carried out are still being worked out and the government will consult local stakeholders, including first nations groups.
Exceptions will be made for people who hunt grizzly bears for food, but wildlife advocates say that this practice has all but vanished, according to NPR.
To ensure that trophy hunters don’t use the sustenance exemption as a cover, hunters will have to surrender the hide, paws, and head of kills to authorities.
An estimated 4,000 grizzlies have been killed over the past 16 years, and wildlife advocates are excited to see this bloodshed end, according to NPR.
Trophy hunting is an often-criticized practice and it’s illegal cousin poaching is largely responsible for the decline of elephants, tigers, lions, rhinos, and other animals throughout the world.
The line between trophy hunting and poaching often blurs, as was the case with the killing of Cecil the Lion in 2015, which became a flashpoint for wildlife advocates seeking to end the indiscriminate slaughter of big game animals.
The grizzly bears in British Columbia are getting a reprieve from seasonal predators, but grizzlies elsewhere aren’t as lucky.
The Trump administration in the US has ended wildlife protections for grizzlies around Yellowstone National Park and expanded how bears can be hunted in Alaska, as part of a broader push to deregulate the environment.
The new rule in British Columbia could serve as a guide for other places around the world that are looking to protect animals.
In the meantime, bears in Canada will have a more peaceful time as they leisurely roam through forests.