In a stunning reversal of policy, the BC Liberals are promising to eliminate grizzly bear hunting in the province’s Great Bear Rainforest.
Premier Christy’s Clark’s Liberals made the promise as they unveiled a new platform for the May 9 provincial election that promised to protect healthy and sustainable wildlife populations.
“We must operate on the principle of conservation first in order to pass on B.C.’s natural splendour so future generations can enjoy it,” said the Liberal platform. “That’s why our wildlife management practices are determined by the best available science.”
The BC Liberals previously defended grizzly bear hunting in British Columbia, despite opinion polls showing nearly 90 per cent of B.C. residents opposed to the trophy hunting of grizzlies. But the new platform promised to phase it out.
“Today’s BC Liberals will work with the Coastal First Nations towards the elimination of the grizzly bear hunt in the Great Bear Rainforest, continuing with the science based approach to the bear hunt elsewhere in the province,” the platform said.
“We know that many First Nations have a deep connection to the land, and also use wildlife for food, social and ceremonial uses. Our hunting, trapping and angling regulations are designed to ensure species conservation and to maintain healthy wildlife populations for use.”
Green Party and NDP also opposed hunt
Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver proposed legislation, in March 2015, to stop the hunt.
The latest move by the Liberals also follows a similar commitment by the BC NDP which also pledged, last November, to end the controversial trophy hunt.
One of the provincial NDP candidates, Bryce Casavant, is a former conservation officer who was fired for refusing to kill two orphaned black bear cubs in 2015.
Chris Genovali, executive director of Raincoast Conservation Foundation, has actively campaigned against the trophy hunting of grizzly bears in B.C. over the years. He said the foundation welcomed seeing major political parties support calls to end the hunt.
“The evidence is overwhelming. Every argument that’s been put out there to justify the grizzly hunt has been blown out of the water, whether it’s economic, ecological or ethical,” Genovali said. “Studies have shown that bear viewing generates more revenue than bear hunting.
“I think finally the political parities recognized that [grizzly hunting] is not a winning party platform, at least with regard to the Great Bear Rainforest.”
Editor’s note: This article was updated at 8:50 p.m. PT with additional background information.
Correction 9:56 p.m.: An earlier version of this article stated that Bryce Casavant refused to kill two grizzly cubs. This has been corrected to black bear cubs.