Grizzly Trophy Hunt Decision Will Hurt Rural BC Says Guide Outfitters Association
Prince George, B.C. – The decision to ban trophy hunting for grizzlies in B.C. will have a ripple effect in rural communities says the head of the BC Guide Outfitters Association.
“This is a blow to small business” says Scott Ellis, President of the B.C. Guide Outfitters Association. “I have members already phoning me and they are basically telling me, they are out of business.”
The Guide Outfitters Association estimates non resident grizzly bear hunters generate revenue of between $1.32 and $2.75 million a year. That is in addition to the more than $500 thousand collected through the Limited Entry Hunt applications and the tags that are purchased if an LEH application is successful.
“This ( ending the trophy hunt) was an election promise and an emotional decision to , quite frankly, please those in Gordon Head and Vancouver” says Ellis ” We are really disappointed, and no amount of compensation is going to make this right.”
He says there hasn’t been any discussion about possible compensation, “We haven’t had any meaningful discussion with the new government.”
Ellis says this decision is further evidence of the urban- rural split in British Columbia “It absolutely highlights the problem. You shouldn’t have the people in Victoria telling the people in Prince George, or Smithers, or Fort St. John or Cranbrook where they don’t really know what’s going on, and it won’t be replaced by eco-tourism or anything else, this is a direct blow to managing a species for political reasons.”
Meantime on the other side of the matter, the Wilderness Committee has been pushing for this action for more than a decade, and they are celebrating the news, “For 16 long years we’ve been demanding this ban” says Jamie Foy, Wilderness Committee National Campaign Director “We’re glad the senseless killing of grizzly bears is coming to an end”.
While the Wilderness Committee points to the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) as listing the western population of grizzly bears status as a “special concern”, a recent report from the Guide Outfitters Association says that designation doesn’t mean the grizzly population is at risk. Their report says the designation of ‘special concern’ “indicates that they are neither threatened nor endangered, but their populations are recognized as sensitive to changes in habitat.”
Ellis says taking hunters out of the field does a disservice to the species “You want people in the field, you want a value placed on wildlife, you want surveys and inventories done, you want collaring done, you want DNA done. If outfitters or hunters aren’t doing that, who is going to be doing that?.”
He applauds the Coastal First Nations who are doing some of that kind of work in the Great Bear rain Forest, but says that is just a small area of B.C. “We have a million square kilometers in this province, what about the rest of it? We have bears in a lot of areas that unfortunately we are not going to know if they are healthy and doing well and if sows are having healthy multiple cubs or not.”
The Guide Outfitters are on record as saying all wildlife management ” should be firmly science-based”. Minister of Forests, Doug Donaldson admits the current management of the Grizzly harvest would have seen the number of licences to hunt decreased if there was a concern in the sustainability of the species, “but we are acting on what the vast majority of British Columbians views were concerning the trophy hunting of grizzly bears.”
Hunting grizzlies for meat will still be allowed, but hunters who do harvest a grizzly for meat, will not be allowed to possess hide, head, paws or hair from the bear. They will however, have to present the skull for inspection so records on age and sex of the harvested animal can be kept.