NDP leader takes aim at B.C. grizzly bear trophy hunt

by MARK HUME

B.C. NDP Leader John Horgan has tackled one of the most divisive wildlife issues in the province by promising his government will end the trophy grizzly bear hunt if elected next spring.

Hoping to win broad support for a policy that may be a hard sell in rural ridings, Mr. Horgan is proposing to make it illegal to kill a grizzly for its head and hide, but legal to shoot one for its meat.

“It’s not about being opposed to hunting. It’s about being opposed to the grizzly bear trophy hunt and only the grizzly bear trophy hunt,” Mr. Horgan said at a press conference on Thursday.

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He acknowledged that if hunting grizzly bears for food is allowed, trophy hunting might continue, because people might be able to get around the ban by taking the bear meat home.

But he said regulations could make such abuse unlikely.

The New Democrats banned grizzly hunting when they were in government in 2000, but lost support in rural ridings. The Liberals swept to power in the 2001 election and ended the ban.

Mr. Horgan said he thinks a carefully crafted ban on the trophy hunt would have wide support, including among hunters.

“The people of British Columbia are opposed to the trophy hunt of grizzly bears. That’s been made abundantly clear in poll after poll after poll,” he said. “I believe as we go into the next election, it’s important the people of British Columbia know that New Democrats stand against the hunting of grizzly bears for trophies.”

But Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson rejected the NDP plan, saying it is not workable and is not based on wildlife science.

“The problem with this is it’s the NDP trying to be all things to all people. I’m not sure how they manage a process where they call for a ban on trophy hunting and then continue to allow hunting [for meat],” he said. “It’s kind of a hollow promise. In reality, there will be many opportunities for the hunt to continue.”

He said the Liberals would continue to allow trophy hunting in areas where the bear population is healthy.

Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver said the NDP did not support him when he proposed legislation to restrict the trophy hunt by requiring all hunters to carry out the meat when they kill a bear.

“I’m grateful they’ve copied what I’ve done, but where were they when I brought in that private members bill two years ago?” he asked.

Mr. Weaver said if his bill had been adopted, it would have effectively ended the trophy hunt, because few people are interested in grizzly bear meat.

Jesse Zeman, a program manager of the B.C. Wildlife Federation, said hunters who shoot grizzly bears for food should be allowed to continue.

“It’s good,” he said of bear meat.

He said the BCWF, which represents about 50,000 hunters and anglers, supports requiring hunters to retain the meat of animals they shoot.

Ian McAllister, executive director of the conservation group Pacific Wild, called the NDP proposal “a step in the right direction” because it targets trophy hunting.

But he said allowing bears to be hunted for their meat is a mistake.

“We think this is just a loophole to continue the trophy hunt under the guise of food hunting,” he said.

Scott Ellis, executive director of the Guide Outfitters Association of B.C., said the NDP approach is not based on scientific wildlife management.

“We’re disgusted when politics gets [priority] over science,” he said.

Mr. Ellis’s organization represents hunting guides, many of whom offer a trophy grizzly hunt for about $14,000.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said the NDP is doing the right thing.

“It is barbaric just to shoot an animal for its head,” he said.

B.C. has an estimated 15,000 grizzly bears. Hunters kill about 250 a year.

Joe Foy, a director of the Wilderness Committee, praised the NDP policy, saying thousands of bears have been shot since the Liberals lifted the hunting ban.

Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, All Rights Reserved

Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, All Rights Reserved

5 thoughts on “NDP leader takes aim at B.C. grizzly bear trophy hunt

  1. Republican minds, Canada & USA, are a problem for wildlife, especially predators, led by the hunting “management” mentality. Hunters want to hunt eleven threatened or endangered species, such as grizzly, wolf, caribou, sage grouse. Left unregulated they would finish the anthropogenic extinction of wildlife. They are only somewhat protected by hunter friendly (biased) wildlife agencies. We need a new paradigm for wildlife management, which does not include hunting. Predators and balanced wildlife ecology, trophic effects, keystone species, acquiring and protecting wildlife ecology is the paradigm. Hunters are not an essential part of that ecology.

  2. Agreed, Roger. With maniac, wealthy business dealer, Trump coming to power, the worst is yet to come. Not only will he load the Supreme Court with his anti-environmental, anti-woman cronies, but he will pick agency directors who will open up any/all undeveloped lands for mining, fossil fuel, and more hunting, grazing. Big Ag and Big Oil will rule.
    It still amazes me that people who otherwise had brains, continued to attack Clinton, but never seemed to be concerned with Trump’s horrific past and present deeds, including his overpopulated “family” of sons, who hunt, and daughters who wear dead animals. This power and money hungry narcissist is already making more foreign business deals, while making it clear he has no intentions of worrying about any conflicts of interest, as a president-elect. He has never cared about working people, because he was raised that way, with a gold spoon in his mouth.
    There are still people who excuse this disgusting man, who already is making decisions which will have dire consequences for this Earth, and non-humans— for many decades. Any environmental protections will be on Trump’s chopping block. In the meantime, Climate Change and Overpopulation are worsening each day. And, if anyone is still idiotic enough to think he will somehow help those who supported him, they will suffer as well, and they deserve it. Unfortunately, the animals, nature & this planet do not deserve it.

    http://www.foranimals.org

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