Grizzly trophy hunt banned in BC, but wildlife needs much more

Wildsight welcomes the ban on trophy hunting of grizzly bears announced yesterday, but we are unclear what a meat hunt will mean for the bears. Big-game hunters may still hunt grizzlies, taking home photos of themselves with their kill instead of the bear’s hide, head and paws, which will be prohibited.

Very few, if any, hunters are out to hunt grizzlies for meat. Currently, hunters are already required to take home the meat from most animals killed, but not from grizzly bears. What exactly will the new regulations be? How effective the trophy hunting ban is will depend entirely on the specific regulations. The Minister promised to consult with First Nations and stakeholders to determine next steps and details of the trophy hunt ban. Wildsight will expect to participate in these discussions to make sure the trophy hunting ban works.

Habitat and connectivity is key

But the problem facing grizzly bears, like so many species across the province, is much broader than hunting. Habitat and connectivity is key. Grizzly bears, like so many other large predators, need space to roam, undisturbed by humans. They need connectivity to travel across the landscape and for bears to move between populations to maintain genetic diversity. Without significant changes in how we manage the human footprint on the land in BC, declines will continue for many species. We have more and more roads and recreation in our backcountry, more development spreading out from our towns, and the impacts of forestry and mining are broad and deep.

Wildsight appreciates Minister Donaldson’s commitment to moving forward with a broader consultation process on a renewed wildlife management strategy for the province. We hope that the government is ready to work with British Columbians to make wildlife a real priority, including all species, not just those that are hunted. Much more than just hunting regulations needs to change.

Industry has dominated land use for far too long. Instead of piecemeal struggles to protect the remaining patches of old growth forest, individual wildlife corridors and critical habitats, we need to sit down together for land-use planning that integrates forestry, mining, roads and recreation. Real wildlife management will require changes that include additional protected areas and carefully managed connectivity across the landscape. Let’s make sure our grizzlies have the habitat that they need.