By Doug Neasloss, Brian Falconer, and Chris Genovali, Special to the Vancouver Sun
For those of you celebrating Premier Christy Clark’s announcement declaring “the end of commercial trophy hunting” in the Great Bear Rainforest, you can put away the champagne. While the announcement by the premier and Minister Steve Thomson essentially endorses the effort to buy out commercial trophy hunting businesses, undertaken by Raincoast Conservation Foundation and Coastal First Nations (CFN) several years ago, it commits no direct support, nor does it address trophy hunting by BC residents which accounts for 60% of the grizzly kill in the Great Bear Rainforest and in the rest of province.
The province has still not recognized the ban on trophy hunting imposed by CFN and will continue to issue tags to kill grizzly bears and black bears in all areas of the Great Bear Rainforest, including in some areas where the black bears carry the white “Spirit bear” gene. In addition, the B.C. government’s announcement regarding the commercial hunt is specifically applicable to CFN territory, which makes up approximately one third of the Great Bear Rainforest.
Yet Thomson’s comments, corrected later by ministry staff, initially gave the impression to the media and the public that commercial trophy hunting had been ended throughout the Great Bear Rainforest. “The agreement today as we announced retires the commercial hunt for grizzly bear for the Great Bear Rainforest,” he told reporters. “Protecting the species is the first principle and we will continue to manage the process elsewhere on a science-based approach to grizzly bear and wildlife management generally.”
Premier Clark, speaking at a press conference, said the agreements “include the end of the commercial grizzly hunt in Coastal First Nations traditional territory,” and later referred to ending the trophy hunt on the coast. Although her first statement was slightly more accurate, both neglected to tell the whole story.
Doug Neasloss is elected chief councillor of the Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nation. Brian Falconer is the guide outfitter coordinator for Raincoast Conservation Foundation. Chris Genovali is Raincoast’s executive director.
A version of this article was first published at the Vancouver Sun, http://www.vancouversun.com/opinion/editorials/opinion+bears+left+great+bear+rainforest+agreement/11716688/story.html