Mother grizzly with triplets

Grizzly bear hunt isn’t going away

Hunting making a comeback, and B.C. government making it easier for guide-outfitter business to expand

VICTORIA – A little-noticed protest tent sprouted up on the rain-soaked B.C. legislature grounds earlier this month.

Green Party MLA Andrew Weaver spoke, asking whether B.C. residents would tolerate trophy hunting of killer whales. That would be a federal matter, but the point is vividly made about the onset of B.C.’s traditional spring grizzly bear hunt.

It’s bigger this year, with Kootenay and Chilcotin wildlife management regions reopened after closures were enacted to preserve grizzly populations. In all, more than 1,000 grizzly bears are up for grabs. As with limited-entry hunts for deer and other animals, only about a third of those hunts are successful in an average year.

The rally was sponsored by the Coastal First Nations Great Bear Initiative, the partnership with U.S.-directed environment groups Sierra Club, Greenpeace and ForestEthics that has become so influential in B.C. affairs. It produced a survey showing that 88 per cent of B.C. residents oppose trophy hunting, and its California experts calculate a 10-fold increase in value when bear hunting gives way to bear watching.

The Raincoast Conservation Society has bought up half a dozen guiding territories on the remote B.C. coast. Combined with government restrictions, more than half the coast is now off limits to bear hunting. Naturally, activists want the whole province shut down.

Wildlife management is the responsibility of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson. He’s heard plenty from all sides and he maintains that bear watching and bear hunting will continue to coexist in B.C.

Thomson has just introduced legislation to permit hunting guide territories to be operated by corporations as well as individuals. This is a long-sought change, allowing First Nations companies and others access to bank loans to expand the industry.

Non-resident hunters are required to hire a licensed guide-outfitter. Resident hunters pay $32 for a one-year hunting licence and $80 for a grizzly bear tag. Non-Canadians pay $180 for the licence and $1,030 for a chance at a grizzly.

Hunting in general is making a comeback in B.C. Ministry data show hunting licenses had declined to 85,633 in 2006, but recovered to reach 97,828 by 2013.

Thomson credits the work of the B.C. Wildlife Federation, which runs hunter training courses. Another program, Becoming an Outdoor Woman, has helped revive hunting and camping as a family activity, he said.

Growing up hunting in northeastern B.C., I was taught not to shoot anything I’m not prepared to eat. I also remember the struggles to protect caribou and other endangered prey species that at one time had B.C. biologists resorting to shooting wolves from helicopters.

The reopening of grizzly bear territories is marketed to urban residents as a horrible crime against nature. In fact, it’s a sign of increasing population.

Problems in B.C. wildlife these days include the fragile mountain caribou herds of the Kootenays, which have been subject to intensive management including relocation of animals.

The ministry has also begun a five-year study of declining moose populations across a vast area of the Interior subject to salvage logging in the wake of the pine beetle epidemic.

Vancouver media recently highlighted a grizzly hunt by NHL journeyman Clayton Stoner. Typically, U.S. enviros promoted the deceased bear by name, “Cheeky,” and photos showed its carcass stripped to the skeleton by scavengers after Stoner left with the hide, paws and head.

They don’t mention that the same fate awaits animals that die of starvation or other natural causes, which increase when animals overpopulate. As with many B.C. issues, there’s a cartoon version sold to impressionable city dwellers, and then there’s the truth.

Tom Fletcher is legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press. Twitter: @tomfletcherbc

Just Posted

Victoria woman competing for role as Maxim cover model

Winning model gets featured spread in magazine, cash price

Father of Saanich murder victim Lindsay Buziak set to appear on Dr. Phil show Friday

Jeff Buziak says he has not seen the show and does not know what to expect

Premier John Horgan visits his old Saanich high school to announce rise in robot funding

Horgan, a Reynolds grad, used the occasion to play catch with the school’s robot

Keep a distance when fawning over baby deer, reminds conservation officer

West Shore conservation officer advises deer can forage on their own and don’t need human help

VIDEO: Fun without sun: Hundreds enjoy Family Fest on Victoria Day

Families enjoy activities in Veterans Memorial Park

POLL: Were you satisfied with the Game of Thrones series finale?

Millions gathered in front of their televisions Sunday night to watch the… Continue reading

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of May 21

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

So, do you know ‘Dave from Vancouver Island’?

Ontario man searching for fellow he travelled with in Europe 50 years ago

Toddler seriously injured after falling from Okanagan balcony

RCMP are investigating after a two-year-old boy fell from the balcony of an apartment in Kelowna

Cost jumps 35% for Trans-Canada Highway widening in B.C.

Revelstoke-area stretch first awarded under new union deal

Is vegan food a human right? Ontario firefighter battling B.C. blaze argues it is

Adam Knauff says he had to go hungry some days because there was no vegan food

Winds helping in battle against fire threatening northern Alberta town

Nearly 5,000 people have cleared out of High Level and nearby First Nation

Most Read