Province quietly extends public consultation period on Peace Region grizzly and wolf hunt proposals

Unannounced extension allows public comment until January 31st.

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SIDNEY, BC – The province of British Columbia has extended its public feedback period from December 31st, 2015 to January 31st, 2016, for two controversial proposals to increase trophy killing of wolves and grizzly bears in the Peace Region.

Raincoast Conservation Foundation had earlier criticized the province for the expanded hunting proposals, and for disingenuously timing the public consultation period over the Christmas holidays, to end on New Year’s Eve, when few members of the public were likely to respond. Raincoast strongly opposes the provincial proposals, but commends the province for extending the public consultation period, albeit without providing any public notice that the public can still comment.

“The original timing of the province’s so-called public consultation period over the Christmas Holidays made it appear that they didn’t really want public feedback. However, we’re glad that they’ve extended the time period. In an ideal world, the Province would have announced this extension to the public, but since they’ve apparently decided not to do that, we’ll let the public know for them,” said Raincoast executive director Chris Genovali.

Raincoast Conservation Foundation opposes the provincial proposal 1 to create an open season on hunting wolves, and to triple 2 the number of grizzly bears that may be hunted in the Peace Region, on the grounds that they are unscientific, unethical, and indicative of a politically driven decision making process, rather than science-based decision making based on factual analysis. A recent poll found that 95% of British Columbians are opposed to trophy hunting, and members of the public are encouraged to take advantage of the extended public comment period.


Backgrounder:  Provincial trophy hunt proposals for Peace Region wolves and grizzlies

  • Link: Provincial proposal to allow unlimited killing of wolves 3 in the Peace Region
  • Link: Provincial proposal to kill three times the number of grizzlies 4 in the Peace Region

Proposals are not based on science

  • The wolf 5 killing proposal is rationalized on the inappropriate and unscientific basis of hearsay, not actual evidence: i.e. verbal reports from many stakeholders … suggest that the wolf population … appears to be very high”) [emphasis added] The province also bases its decision on “consensus” 6 from a “stakeholder” group of “hunters, guide outfitters and trappers.”
  • The grizzly bear kill 7 is based on a provincial “best guess” of 459 “surplus” bears – a number that provides a false sense of accuracy.  Basing kill allocation on this will likely result in excess mortality beyond the province’s “allowable” 26 kills in the Peace.
  • “Single species management” proposals such as these are highly problematic. They ignore critical ecosystem impacts such as trophic downgrading (PDF) – the top-down influences of predators on ecosystems that can affect everything from diets, to disease, to entire landscapes – and lack contextual analysis of the importance of top predators in ecosystems.

Insufficient data and stakeholder input

  • The rationale of these proposals suggest that a limited number of stakeholders are involved, indicating that they may be responses to political lobbying rather than careful analysis of scientific data. Decisions that have important ecological implications should not be based solely on “consensus” 8 from “stakeholders” (hunters, guide outfitters and trappers) who clearly have a vested interest in this decision. Public social license, such as the fact that 95% of British Columbians oppose trophy hunting, needs to be considered.
  • Overall policy context should similarly be considered. The wolf kill rationale states 9 that the proposal is part of a “broader predator management strategy”, which has not yet been developed [emphasis added]. Proceeding prematurely with one component aspect in the absence of the overall strategy may make future management actions more difficult or impossible, as current provincial actions may cause unforeseen consequences.
  • These proposals do not consider or articulate the harms they may cause. Implementation of such premature proposals may make future conservation actions difficult or impossible. These proposals do not indicate that the province is following a precautionary principle, or using evidence-based methods data to ensure future conservation measures are or can be taken.
  • The province should be undertaking careful analysis of adequate scientific data, which they do not possess. As such, the process should be set aside, and a careful conservation planning process implemented, that garners data and examines consequences.
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Coastal wolf with a salmon in its month.
Photo by Dene Rossouw.