Huckleberry win for bears: B.C. restricts harvesting to protect grizzlies' food

Provincial authorities are restricting commercial huckleberry harvesting in the Kootenay-Boundary region to preserve a critical food supply for grizzly bears.

Overharvesting in recent years has led to concerns in Kootenay-Boundary region

Black huckleberries, which commonly grow wild in the Interior of B.C., are increasingly being harvested at a commercial scale not seen before, environmentalists have warned. (Bonnie Harvey)

Provincial authorities are restricting commercial huckleberry harvesting in B.C.'s Kootenay-Boundary region to preserve a critical food supply for grizzly bears.

In a statement, the forests ministry said wild huckleberry harvesting will be restricted in areas deemed "critical foraging zones."

The restrictions will be in place from July 15 until Oct. 15. Maps of the affected areas are available online.

The ministry defines commercial harvesting as picking more than 10 litres per person per season; using specialized tools to do so; and with the intention of selling the berries.

The province says while huckleberry harvesting has traditionally been limited in scope, increasing commercial activity has led to damaged habitat and even conflicts with grizzlies.

In 2017, environmental group Wildsight and the Ktunaxa First Nation raised concerns about commercial operations employing dozens of people.

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