BC NDP pledge to end grizzly bear trophy hunting

B.C. NDP Leader John Horgan says his party will ban the practice of grizzly bear trophy hunting in the province — if the party takes power in the next provincial election

Party takes stance on controversial practice for first time

A grizzly in the Great Bear Rainforest near Hartley Bay. On average, 300 grizzly bears are killed by hunters in B.C. every year. (Tim McGrath)

B.C. NDP Leader John Horgan says his party will stop the practice of grizzly bear trophy hunting in the province — if it comes to power in the next provincial election.

Speaking to a group at the Skwachays Lodge in downtown Vancouver on Thursday, Horgan said the majority of British Columbians don't support the trophy hunt and his party doesn't either.

"More than 90 per cent of B.C. residents — including Coastal First Nations — oppose this kind of cruelty. These majestic animals deserve our full protection, especially since they are already struggling to survive habitat disruption and loss," said Horgan.

The Liberal government has said in the past it believes grizzly bear populations are healthy and that the practice — which attracts international hunting enthusiasts every year — contributes to the local economy.

Horgan said he believes the bears are worth more to the province's economy alive than dead

"The trophy hunt takes away opportunities for our booming eco-tourism sector and bear viewing creates way more jobs, way more revenue," said Horgan.

End to trophy hunting but not hunting

Horgan said his party has been in talks with hunting stakeholders to make sure they understand the NDP is not proposing a sweeping hunting ban.

"This is not about being opposed to hunting — this is about being opposed to the grizzly bear trophy hunt and only the grizzly bear trophy hunt." said Horgan

Horgan said his party supports hunting for food, especially for those who use it to survive.

Flanked by members of his caucus, BC NDP leader John Horgan said the people of British Columbia have spoken and they don't support the practice of grizzly bear trophy hunting. (Farrah Merali/CBC)

The trophy hunt has made headlines for years in B.C., but this is the first time the provincial NDP has taken a stance on the issue.

When asked why the party decided to pick a side on the issue now, Horgan said he wanted to make sure B.C. voters were clear on where they stand.

"We're coming up to an election where people are going to be making choices," said Horgan.

"They're going to be looking at alternatives on the ballot, and I want people to know that New Democrats stand united against grizzly bear trophy bear hunting."