Thousands of people across Canada were applauding the BC government’s new ban on trophy hunting of grizzly bears, when there came a rude awakening: hunting of grizzly bears will continue, under the claim of hunting for meat. The only area of BC receiving a new total hunting ban is in the Great Bear Rainforest, but it covers only a tiny percentage of grizzly bear habitat in BC.
Canadians had asked for an end to trophy hunting for a good reason: virtually all hunting of grizzly bears was trophy hunting, except for First Nations traditional hunting, which no one has opposed. The meat does not taste good to many hunters. So much is this so, that grizzly bears have previously been classed with non-game animals, such as wolverines, wolves and cougars. For years the wildlife regulations have explicitly allowed hunters to leave the meat on the ground and take only trophy parts.
On October 6, 2017, 38 animal and nature organizations, plus wildlife-based businesses and prominent grizzly bear activists, signed an open letter to the BC government saying that they want a total ban on grizzly bear hunting, with the exception of jointly-regulated First Nations ceremonial and sustenance hunting. They believe the “meat hunt” will be a trophy hunt in disguise. Even if hunters leave the head, hide and claws behind, they will take away trophy videos, photographs and bragging rights. The bears will still be killed for sport. The meat can be thrown away or fed to dogs.
The open letter disputes the BC government’s view that hunting is not a threat to the long term persistence of grizzly bears. Grizzly bears are a species at risk that has already been wiped out in parts of BC. Humans are killing too many grizzly bears by poaching, habitat destruction and human conflicts. Further hunting only adds to their deaths.
Presently the government is holding a quick public consultation before bringing in new regulations in early November. The process only considers how to regulate the possession of grizzly bear trophy parts, not whether there should be a meat hunt. You can find two documents on the proposed new policies on the government website, and email your response, at http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/fw/.