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

QUIZ: Test your knowledge of Victoria Day

How much do you know about the monarch whose day we celebrate each May?

Semi truck crashes into highway barrier cable near Chilliwack

Witnesses warning other drivers to watch for debris in other lanes

Multi-vehicle collision on highway in Chilliwack

Accident involves several vehicles, in the westbound lanes says Drive BC

Age nothing but a number for women in Fraser Valley 7-a-side soccer league

Rockers’ soccer 7-a-side league is for women 30 and older

Agassiz bus driver’s seatbelt petition heads to Ottawa

Gary Lillico is hoping his one-month petition will make a mark on the House of Commons

VIDEO: Quadriplegic man takes flight over Harrison Mills

Jim Ryan hasn’t moved his arms or legs for three years, but that didn’t stop him from paragliding

Raptors beat Bucks 118-112 in 2OT thriller

Leonard has 36 points as Toronto cuts Milwaukee’s series lead to 2-1

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Rescue crews suspend search for Okanagan kayaker missing for three days

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

B.C. VIEWS: Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed

Turns out dear old China wasn’t doing such a great job

Structure fire destroys Surrey tire shop

RCMP have closed Fraser Highway down to traffic from 152 Street to 88 Avenue

Carbon dioxide at highest levels for over 2.5 million years, expert warns of 100 years of disruption

CO2 levels rising rapidly, now higher than at any point in humanity’s history

Man dies after being hit by car in East Vancouver

The driver involved is cooperating with police

B.C. ferry stops to let black bear swim past near Nanaimo

Queen of Oak Bay brakes for wildlife in Nanaimo’s Departure Bay

Most Read