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.

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

Saanich golfer and top B.C. junior and juvenile player Willy Bishop was named to the 2021 Canadian National Junior Golf Squad on Nov. 19. (Photo courtesy Jenny Bishop)
Saanich student to tee-off with national golf team

Willy Bishop, 16, named to Canadian National Junior Golf Squad in 2021

Island Health has reported a COVID-19 outbreak at Saanich Peninsula Hospital. (Arnold Lim/Black Press)
Four new COVID-19 cases added to Saanich Peninsula Hospital outbreak

Inital round of patient testing is complete, staff testing continues

A rendering of Victoria Wonderland, a drive-thru immersive holiday experience that has been cancelled due to COVID-19. (Courtesy of Transcend Victoria)
Victoria Wonderland drive-thru show cancelled due to COVID-19

Organizers hope to host a similar event, if restrictions allow, in the new year

Swiftsure International Yacht Race 2018. (Black Press Media file photo)
Popular Swiftsure yacht race cancelled for second consecutive year

International sailing race hopes to run its 77th event in 2022

Andrew McBride is among those who deck out for Sea of Lights floating ship parade annually. (Black Press Media file photo)
Pandemic sinks Royal Victoria Yacht Club’s Sea of Lights

Oak Bay club encourages donations to the charities event supports

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

(AP Photo/Paula Bronstein)
POLL: Has COVID-19 changed your plans for the holidays?

The lights are going up, the stacks of presents under the tree… Continue reading

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 Dec. 1

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

Watch Messiah at home with the Sooke Philharmonic

Concert available to stream Dec. 12

Emergency crews used a backhoe loader to clear fire debris from the scene of a fire on Wesley Street Thursday as police and firefighters gathered up propane tanks, stoves and fireplaces used by camp residents to heat tents. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
City of Nanaimo dismantles downtown homeless encampment after fire

Four to six tents burned up in Wesley Street fire Thursday, Dec. 3

A demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver Sept. 24, demanding more action on the Cohen Commission recommendations to protect wild Fraser River sockeye. (Quinn Bender photo)
First Nations renew call to revoke salmon farm licences

Leadership council implores use of precautionary principle in Discovery Islands

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

BC Ambulance Services reassures people that the service is well staffed and ready to respond. Photo by Don Bodger
BC Ambulance assures the Island community they’re ‘fully staffed’

‘Paramedics are not limited to a geographical area.’ — BCEHS

(Pixabay)
Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

Increased substance use one of the ways people are coping

Most Read