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Political stunts and political spin — the confusing tale of the government’s inept grizzly bear policy

Today the BC NDP claimed to set the stage for banning trophy hunting of grizzly bears in British Columbia. In what can only be described as a political stunt, the BC NDP announced that “effective Nov. 30, 2017, the British Columbia government will end grizzly bear trophy hunting throughout the province.” They further proclaimed “while the trophy hunt will end, hunting for meat will be allowed to continue.”

In response to their announcement I issued a statement, reproduced below.

As you will see, I am very supportive of the fact that  the B.C. NDP are respecting the wishes of the Coastal First Nations by placing a moratorium on the hunting of grizzlies in the Great Bear Rainforest. Readers of this website will know that I called for this back in February, 2014 (3 1/2 years ago). However, during the election campaign I pointed out that the B.C. NDP appeared to be trying to have their cake and eat it too when it came to the grizzly hunt. They told the hunting community one thing and the environmental community another.

Today’s announcement will not end grizzly bear hunting in B.C., as many environmental groups have advocated for.

In addition, this announcement will create a system in which not all of the animal will be harvested – resident hunters will no longer be allowed to possess the hair, head and hide of grizzlies. This will be viewed as wasteful by the resident hunting community.

Foreign hunters will still be able to shoot grizzlies in British Columbia, take a picture of themselves standing over the dead beast, and head back home without harvesting any of the animal.

What’s remarkable is that when I introduced legislation in the Spring of 2017 targeted at foreign trophy hunters the BC NDP did not support it. Now, they introduce a mishmash approach that makes little sense.

I’m not sure how this will appease the concerns of anyone. It appears to me that the NDP were trying to play to environmental voters in the election campaign without thinking through their policies. What we really need in BC is science-based approach to wildlife management, not a populist approach to species management.


Media Release


Weaver statement on government’s intention to end the grizzly bear trophy hunt
For immediate release
August 14, 2017

VICTORIA, B.C. – Andrew Weaver, leader of the B.C. Green caucus, responded to today’s news regarding grizzly bear hunting in British Columbia. Weaver has long advocated for action on this issue.

“I am encouraged that the B.C. NDP are respecting the wishes of the Coastal First Nations by placing a moratorium on the hunting of grizzlies in the Great Bear Rainforest,” says Weaver.

Weaver further cautions “During the election campaign I pointed out that the B.C. NDP appeared to be trying to have their cake and eat it too when it came to the grizzly hunt. They told the hunting community one thing and the environmental community another.”

Today’s announcement will not end grizzly bear hunting in B.C., as many environmental groups have advocated for.

In addition, this announcement will create a system in which not all of the animal will be harvested – resident hunters will no longer be allowed to possess the hair, head and hide of grizzlies. This will be viewed as wasteful by the resident hunting community.

In addition, foreign hunters will still be able to shoot grizzlies in British Columbia, take a picture of themselves standing over the dead beast, and head back home without harvesting any of the animal.

Weaver adds “I’m not sure how this will appease the concerns of anyone. It appears to me that the NDP were trying to play to environmental voters in the election campaign without thinking through their policies.

“What we really need in BC is science-based approach to wildlife management, not a populist approach to species management.

“B.C. is one of the last strongholds of grizzlies in North America. There are a range of issues that affect the health of grizzly bear populations. These include the effects of climate change on essential salmon and huckleberry stocks, as well as road kill rates and poaching incidents. We must focus on broader wildlife preservation if we are serious about conservation and the protection of grizzlies and other species in this province.

“B.C. and Alberta are the only provinces without Endangered Species legislation. I will work with the government to ensure the introduction of species at risk legislation is advanced in the near future,” says Weaver.

-30-

Media contact

Jillian Oliver, Press Secretary
+1 778-650-0597
jillian.oliver@leg.bc.ca

26 Comments

  1. Allan Crow-Reply
    August 15, 2017 at 9:51 pm

    This is a huge step forward, particularly re the Great Bear Rain Forest. Many commentators are missing the caveat whereby resident ‘meat’ hunters would be required to forfeit the hide, head and paws to the Ministry. If ‘resident’ meat hunters solicit paying customers so they can shoot and stand over dead GBs for thrills and photo ops they would be acting(illegally) as an ‘outfitter’ and would be breaking the law.

    This ends legal trophy hunting of GBs in BC…Promise kept.

    Now we can have a discussion about whether limited ‘resident’ sustenance hunting is appropriate. Personally I don’t think it’s necessary.

    I would like see Dr. Weaver become an advocate for the wild salmon and help get these open net salmon farms off the wild salmon migration routes. Time to apply some pressure there.

  2. Ms Rose-Reply
    August 15, 2017 at 9:22 pm

    However it happens, trophy hunting needs to end in Canada. Hosting Americans (or whomever) to allow the senseless killing of animals for pure excitement and trophies does not further any Canadian end.
    I found this report very insightful. Perhaps you will also. http://www.hsi.org/assets/pdfs/report_trophy_hunting_by_the.pdf

  3. Chris-Reply
    August 15, 2017 at 4:33 pm

    So how does excluding non-residents from hunting grizzly bears contribute to science based management of the species?

  4. Rick-Reply
    August 15, 2017 at 4:20 pm

    I agree with stopping the grizzly hunting in the grear bear rainforest. There needs to be a balance. However stopping grizzly bear hunting by residents in the rest of the province is just a political decision that is not based on science or good wildlife practices. It is sad to see a government making policies that ignore science and common sense. These animals are apex predators and their numbers in certain areas need to be managed. This policy removes the ability of the wildlife professionals to manage the populations to maintain a healthy and safe population.

  5. August 15, 2017 at 12:47 pm

    Grizzly numbers are sustainable.
    30 gear old bears are still being harvested.
    significant financial benifit flows to BC from residential and foreign hunters.male grizzlies kill significant cubs.grizzlies learn through hunting that interaction with humans brings consequences. Stopping the hunting would result in habitatuating bear with humans with lack of negative consequences..bears will become more agressive..resulting in deaths. .human and bears.
    currently hunters pay for the RIGHTS LEH to legally hunt mature males..these will still need to be removed.now by Co, s. No revenue added costs to province.throwing the hide, head is disrespectful wasteful.having spent 30 years amongst these magnification apex predators..your only correct statement..science base. .that is what provincial biologists base yearly harvest numbers on, no blind emotion of stop the hunt at all costs $$ regardless of the science in place.i thought you had it together, now the switch. Sad confusing huge blow to Greens..confrontation instead of consultation.
    Steven Rupp

  6. Aden Stewart-Reply
    August 15, 2017 at 11:13 am

    Andrew,
    There are two issues here: one is scientific; can grizzlies be hunted sustainably? the second is ethical; is it ethical to waste meat. Scientifically it doesn’t matter what one does with the meat a dead bear is a dead bear. Scientifically the evidence suggests that most grizzly populations can be hunted sustainably. Ethically I agree that the entire animal should be used. Leaving the hide and the skull in the bush is an insult to the animal. Non-hunters and urbanites may not realize it but retaining a trophy is a sign of respect and an important traditional cultural activity for many British Columbians. The hide, horns or antlers endure well after the meat has been consumed and has historically been an honoured part of all hunting cultures.

    • August 15, 2017 at 11:51 am

      Thank you for these thoughtful insights.

  7. Dianne Varga-Reply
    August 15, 2017 at 11:06 am

    A what? A “political stunt”?

    It’s fine for Weaver to disagree with and critique NDP policy. However, it strikes me he could have and should have made a case for “a science-based approach to wildlife management, not a populist approach to species management” without going on the attack and pissing people off.

    The “political stunt” is on the part of Andrew Weaver, I would say.

    By the way, in calling for a ban on trophy hunting in the past, did Weaver ever call for a re-do of wildlife management in the province, or did he think that up only when he wanted to clobber Horgan and get in the news?

    • August 15, 2017 at 11:51 am

      Yes, I’ve been saying the same thing for many years. I didn’t attack Horgan either. I do not personalize criticism. I’m calling out poor policy aimed at distracting from the fact that the Fall grizzly hunt just started.

  8. Ryan Vernon-Reply
    August 15, 2017 at 9:58 am

    I couldn’t agree more: we require evidence-based wildlife management, not a populist approach. What makes this particularly frustrating is that this is a solved problem–look to our neighbors to the south where many states have excellent, well funded wildlife management systems that balance conservation, access, and resource use.

    BC governments have systematically underfunded wildlife management and this course of action worsens the situation by pandering to the segment of our population who have no knowledge of complexities of wildlife and our interaction with it, and instead react to charisma of this particular species.

    I’m all for meat retention regulations; however, requiring that the skull and hide be trashed is wasteful. Moreover, the “trophy” hunt will continue because in this Instagram age the real trophy is the picture.

    I believe that within the hunting community there is a lot of support for meat retention regulations, and an approach that respects both bears and hunters is easily possible, but all government is both alienating a swath of the electorate, and missing an opportunity to bring together all users of our back-country for the betterment of all our game species.

    Dr. Weaver: I hope you can raise these concerns in the legislature, and I hope that meaningful consultation can happen before this regulation comes into force.

  9. August 15, 2017 at 9:42 am

    What is needed to Andrew Weaver is to support progress in the effort to protect Grizzlies in BC, not to advance cheap shots in an attempt to enhance your own stature. If the welcomed BC NDP policy can be improved then that is where your energies should be applied, rather than engaging in cheap-shots, puffery and self promotion.

  10. Doni Steele-Reply
    August 15, 2017 at 9:22 am

    It seems to me that the solution is simple. End the grizzly bear hunt. Period. No word play. No petty politics. Just end it. And, if you have to refund people for licences, then refund them. Nobody eats grizzlies. Therefore they should not be hunted. They are not food, they are an endangered species.

    • Shirley Patterson-Reply
      August 15, 2017 at 2:59 pm

      Perfectly expressed! When will we learn to respect animals right to live their lives without us pointing guns at these magnificent animals. We keep on encroaching on wildlife territory. Personally I am delighted that trophy hunting is ending but I wonder why foreign hunters can continue their aggression? This trophy hunt should end for everyone.

    • Debbie-Reply
      August 15, 2017 at 4:49 pm

      Grizzly bears are considered a species at risk, they are NOT listed as an endangered species. As a species at risk they need a sound scientific approach to their management including limited access to hunting.

  11. Andrew Buskard-Reply
    August 15, 2017 at 9:10 am

    We leverage most other aspects of our natural resource milieu for economic gain, what makes our grizzly bears so special? This isn’t a question of dwindling overall numbers (our grizzly population has careful provicial oversight), so we should keep letting anybody with the means and motivation come to our province to hunt them. If the provincial population does start becoming threatened though, I think we’d all be on the same page about the appropriate course of action.

  12. Karen Pidcock-Reply
    August 15, 2017 at 8:37 am

    Let’s support at least some policy changes in the right direction, & give some credit to action which surely will help greatly to transform both attitudes & hunting practices, & keep working together!

  13. Cody-Reply
    August 15, 2017 at 8:35 am

    I fail to understand how a US hunter could leave the meat, it would be the same as other animals. if meat retention is part of hunting regulations you can’t just leave it in the bush, that goes for non residents as well. if you shoot the animal you are legally obligated to take out all edible portions.

    the second point i would like to make is as a resident hunter i agree that it is very wasteful to leave any usable part behind. even meat and sustenance hunters like to have that memory of the hunt with a skull or rug. leaving these parts behind is an insult to the animal.

    Also, i would be very surprised if you don’t see a rise in conservation officer related shootings of the grizzlies in areas where grizzly’s co mingle with humans. hunting is a tool used by the province to help push predators away from towns, some of the most highly coveted draws are very close to villages and towns. a good example is in California, they use to have a mountain lion (Cougar) hunt, on average 650 cats where shot every year (they have very good meat in them). they banned the hunt due to non scientific public pressure. now they have a team of guys with dogs that have to hunt the cats near population and last year almost 700 cats where killed by these government payrolled hunters. nothing has changed other than the meat is going into a dumpster and the public is now funding the hunt.

  14. Andrew-Reply
    August 15, 2017 at 7:47 am

    I read that the adult male Grizzly bear often kill there cubs to make the female ovulate again. Is it true if you thin out the adult male Grizzly bears you can increase there population?

  15. Kris Hoffman-Reply
    August 15, 2017 at 7:41 am

    Wouldn’t it just be easier to ban all non resident grizzly hunting and have it open for BC resident hunters, like myself, through LEH draw.

  16. Gerald Giguere-Reply
    August 15, 2017 at 7:10 am

    Hi , while I see the saving of grizzlies in the great bear rain forest as a very good thing the rest of this policy is flawed and should be seen as such. During the election campaign I encouraged Mr. Horgan to just stop the grizzly hunt altogether as this hunting for meat leaves loopholes big enough to drive a “big rig” through. I would hazard a guess that there are very few hunters that really eat grizzly meat. I would encourage any hunters that read this to correct me if I am wrong. I think a total ban on grizzly hunting would be the way to go and for resident hunters who insist they need grizzly meat as part of their diet , give out subsistence licences to those in areas where the populations are in good health and make them harvest the whole animal. One licence for one grizzly per year and only people who live in the areas . There has to be ways to improve this very flawed policy. Do it right Mr. Horgan.

  17. Kevin Logan-Reply
    August 15, 2017 at 6:24 am

    Weaver: “The BC Greens had a similar relationship with the BC Liberals when they were in government. Have a read of our statement supporting KM.”

    Hi Andrew, do you have a link to your “Statement supporting KM,” you mention above?

    Thanks

  18. Paul McCuish-Reply
    August 14, 2017 at 11:19 pm

    Dr. Weaver,
    While I agree with you that this announcement seems like a ploy to allow grizzly hunting to continue while seeming to protect these animals and appease environmentalists, I’m worried that the tone of your protest around this issue and around the pipeline issue is not what will result in a working arrangement between the Green and the New Democrat Parties. We need the voice of reason we associate with science, not the voice of petty politicians, if we’re going to make this work.

    • August 14, 2017 at 11:24 pm

      Indeed, that is precisely why it is important for us to point out the problems with policy measures brought in. Disagreeing is healthy and will drive us to better policy. Our job in opposition is to push government to be better. We have a very good working relationship and criticism/disagreement is part of it. The BC Greens had a similar relationship with the BC Liberals when they were in government. Have a read of our statement supporting KM.

      • James Smith-Reply
        August 15, 2017 at 12:07 am

        Regarding your reply to Paul McCuish , at the end your note ” Have a read of our statement supporting KM ” ( KM meaning Kinder Morgan, I assume- since you did not qualify that acronym ) . Since the Green Party is not in favour of the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion this statement is confusing. I understand that you are in agreement with the NDP on with regards to KM. That is not exactly the same as “supporting KM”

  19. Stephen Pollard-Reply
    August 14, 2017 at 10:46 pm

    The NDP conned us all. This has made me angry enough to return my vote to the Liberals. At least the lies they tell are more transparent! One less NDP supporter but many many more to follow.

  20. Karen Chernish-Reply
    August 14, 2017 at 9:32 pm

    He was elected to represent us, not sell us out; and nobody gave him the Province to parcel out to his cronies. This is not the once-great USofA, where sheeple follow any puddle-jumper with enough money and chutzpah: We will fight to the end. Thank you for holding his feet to the fire over this attempted bamboozle, Mr. Weaver. I anticipate attending many a protest if he doesn’t clean up his act. Many of us voted Green Party, barely tolerating him and his ilk. To me, that should mean he will try harder.

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