Alaska’s neighbor to the southeast has announced a ban on most grizzly bear hunts.
A minister in the Canadian province of British Columbia said Dec. 18 that hunting bears is over, effective immediately, because most British Columbians don’t support it. The one exception is for British Columbia’s indigenous peoples, who in Canada are known as First Nations. First Nations can hunt a small number of grizzlies under treaty rights or for food, social or ceremonial purposes.
“It’s abundantly clear that the most British Columbians do not support the killing of grizzlies,” said Doug Donaldson, British Columbia’s minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, at a news conference in Victoria.
The ban comes as Montana, Idaho and Wyoming consider instituting grizzly bear hunts in areas around Yellowstone National Park, where the animal has been removed from federal protection with management turned over to the states.
British Columbia is home to 4.6 million people and about 15,000 grizzlies. Donaldson said the provincial government received 4,180 emailed comments, 78 percent of which supported the ban.
Previously, hunters in British Columbia harvested about 250 grizzlies annually.
In Alaska, hunters killed 1,186 brown/grizzly bears in the 2016-2017 hunting season. Grizzly bears are the same species as brown bears, although in Alaska the term “brown bear” refers to the larger bears found in coastal areas. Grizzlies are smaller and are found inland. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game estimates about 30,000 brown and grizzly bears are in Alaska.
British Columbia joins Alberta, the province to the east, in instituting a ban. Grizzly bear hunting is legal in the Yukon, although bag limits restrict hunters to one bear every three license years.
Earlier this year, British Columbia banned hunting grizzlies in the Great Bear Rainforest on the province’s northern Pacific Coast.
The province also restricted the hunt to a food hunt by not allowing hunters to keep a bear’s head, paws or hide — the parts with trophy value.