Biologists warn against proposal to expand grizzly bear hunt

WENDY STUECK

VANCOUVER — The Globe and Mail

Published 

The B.C. government is proposing to open up grizzly hunting next season in two areas where it’s now banned, despite a recent study that concluded the government is underestimating the number of bears killed each year and recommended a more cautious approach.

Two proposals, posted on the Ministry of Forests website in November, suggest opening grizzly bear management units, or MUs, in the Kootenay and Cariboo regions for limited grizzly bear hunting next spring.

 The Kootenay units were closed in 2011 as a result of female grizzly bear kills exceeding a government-set threshold over a five-year period. The Cariboo units have been closed since 2000, when the number of bears killed by hunters and in “conflict” kills – when animals shot by ranchers or put down by wildlife officers after becoming “problem” bears – exceeded limits for the area.The proposals say populations in the areas have recovered enough to support a hunt.“When we consider opening a hunt, it has to meet a certain number of tests,” Andrew Wilson, director of fish and wildlife with B.C.’s Forests Ministry, said on Thursday. “And we feel in these instances, the tests have been passed.”Kyle Artelle is not convinced.

Mr. Artelle, a PhD student at Simon Fraser University and a biologist with the Raincoast Conservation Foundation, was one of the authors of a November report that concluded grizzly-bear kill limits were being exceeded in many parts of the province.

“In the review, we found really compelling evidence that more cautious management of the species is warranted,” Mr. Artelle said. “And here we are a couple of weeks later and the government is now [proposing] increasing the hunt. So they are not taking a more cautious approach; in fact you could argue they are taking a less cautious approach.”

 To read the full article please visit the Globe and Mail website.

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