Province ends grizzly bear hunt throughout all B.C.

B.C. is ending the grizzly bear hunt throughout the entire province. First Nations will still be able to harvest grizzly bears pursuant to Aboriginal rights for food, social, or ceremonial purposes, or treaty rights.

There are an estimated 15,000 grizzly bears in B.C.

According to a release from the province, 78 per cent of respondents in a provincial consultation process recommended the hunt be stopped entirely. (Dan Rafla/Parks Canada)

B.C. is ending the grizzly bear hunt throughout the entire province.

First Nations still will be able to harvest grizzly bears in accordance with Aboriginal rights for food, social, or ceremonial purposes, or treaty rights.

Forests Minister Doug Donaldson said the decision came about during the ministry's consultation process on implementing the end of the trophy hunt, first announced in August.

"It's mostly a social values issue," Donaldson said. "When it comes down to it, this species is seen as an iconic species for B.C., and people just weren't willing to accept the hunting of grizzly bears anymore in this province."

According to Donaldson, 78 per cent of almost 4,200 respondents called for an end to the hunt altogether.

Follows August trophy hunt ban

Donaldson said the consultation process also involved face-to-face meetings with hunting associations, guide outfitters and First Nations. He said his government is committed to allowing other forms of hunting to continue.

In August 2017 the province announced it would end the trophy hunting of grizzly bears and stop all hunting of grizzly bears in the Great Bear Rainforest.

Those changes came into effect on Nov. 30, 2017.

Donaldson said there will be further discussions with guide outfitters in the province about how the government can support the transition away from grizzly hunting. Outfitters in B.C. charge upward of $17,000 for a guided grizzly hunting tour.

A report from the auditor general's office earlier this year found that the province has not been effectively managing B.C.'s grizzly population. It also found that the biggest threat to grizzlies is habitat loss, not hunting. Donaldson said ending the hunt will actually help to address that problem.

"A really good outcome of this decision is that we'll have more resources to monitor grizzly bear populations, as well as habitat conservation," Donaldson said. "We won't be focusing those resources strictly on managing a hunt."

There are an estimated 15,000 grizzly bears in B.C.

With files from CBC Radio One's On the Coast.

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