Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA Andrew Weaver tabled a private member’s bill targeting the trophy killing of grizzly bears in the B.C.
“This bill is about supporting sustainable, respectful hunting practices in B.C.,” said Weaver. “It is about putting B.C. hunters first and taking clear steps towards ending the trophy killing of grizzly bears in our province.”
As the B.C. Green Party deputy leader introduced his bill, hundreds of hunters, some wearing camouflage and blowing duck calls, gathered outside the B.C. legislature to protest the share of big-game hunting permits set aside for guide-outfitters and their out-of-province clients.
About 300 hunters and supporters attended the rally, bringing petitions with thousands of names to present in the legislature.
The largest petition called for a limit of 10 per cent share of moose and elk allocated for non-resident hunters, and 15 per cent for mountain goats and grizzly bears, prized by trophy hunters.
It was the latest of a series of protests that began in December when the government announced an increase of limited-entry hunting opportunities for guide-outfitters.
Weaver’s bill would add additional requirements to hunting in B.C. First, it would remove grizzly bears from the list of animals exempt from meat harvesting regulations. Hunters are already required to remove the edible portions from black bears. This bill would bring meat harvesting standards for grizzly bears up to the same level.
It would also ensure that all edible portions of animals harvested in B.C. are taken directly to the hunter’s residence. This provision is meant to limit foreign hunters’ ability to come to B.C. for the purpose of trophy hunting, by making them responsible for removing the meat of any animal they kill.
“Earlier this year, the government began allocating more hunting opportunities to guide outfitters at the expense of B.C. hunters,” said Weaver. “We need to pressure this government to recommit to putting the interests of British Columbians first, by rebalancing the new allocation policy in favour of B.C. hunters and by passing this bill.”
Forests Minister Steve Thomson said he understands the principle behind the ongoing protest, but the latest allocation decision was made after 10 years of discussions with resident hunters and guide-outfitters, and he is not prepared to change it again.
When the plan was announced in December, the government estimated that it represented a shift of 168 animals in limited-entry hunt areas from resident hunters to guide outfitters. After resident hunters and the B.C. Wildlife Federation objected, Thomson announced in February that is being adjusted to a shift of about 60 animals to guide-outfitters. But the protests have continued.
B.C. hunters are concerned that the share reserved for guide-outfitters is higher than anywhere else in North America. Under the latest policy for limited-entry hunts, that share is 20 per cent for elk, 20 or 25 per cent for moose depending on the restricted region, 35 per cent for mountain goat, and 40 per cent for grizzly bears.
— With files from Tom Fletcher