Beginning November 30, sport hunters will no longer be able to take a grizzly bear in British Columbia. The provincial government has followed through on a recent campaign promise by the New Democratic Party to end the activity, drawing applause from environmental groups and the ire of hunters and outfitters.
The decision comes after the NDP took office in June. The Liberal Party it ousted had reinstated grizzly hunting 16 years ago after a similar ban, causing outrage from environmental groups. The groups have been pushing for a reversal ever since.
“By bringing trophy hunting of grizzlies to an end, we’re delivering on our commitment to British Columbians,” Doug Donaldson, the minister for forests, lands, natural resource operations, and rural development, said in a press release. “This action is supported by the vast majority of people across our province.”
BBC Canada reports that a poll done during the last election cycle found 90 percent of British Columbians opposed the trophy hunting of grizzlies. Tourism fueled by BC bear viewing is said to bring in 12 times more money than bear hunting, but that’s small consolation to guides who depend on taking grizzlies for their livelihoods.
“We are not going to be very supportive,” Scott Ellis, executive director of the Guide Outfitters Association of British Columbia, told BBC Canada. “We’re very worried about the ripple effect it will have on small businesses in rural British Columbia.”
Meat hunting will still be allowed across much of the province, but no grizzly hunting of any kind will be permitted within BC’s Great Bear Rainforest.
“In particular, we owe it to generations past and future to do all we can to protect the beauty and uniqueness of the Great Bear Rainforest,” Donaldson said. “We believe the action we’re taking goes beyond the commitment to Coastal First Nations made as part of the 2016 Great Bear Rainforest agreements.”
Those agreements set aside 3.1 million hectares of the rainforest, preventing industrial logging of any kind within that area. Greenpeace called it “a gift to the world” at the time, with the grizzly decision only furthering the hands-off approach toward the forest.
British Columbia is home to an estimated 15,000 grizzlies, with hunters taking 250 or so each year for meat and/or sport.