Urgent concerns raised as BC Government falls short in public engagement for grizzly bear stewardship

Three groups are calling for an extension of the public consultation period, among other concerns.

Grizzly bear eating grass.
Photo by Taylor Green.

On July 12, 2023, BC government released a draft of their provincial Grizzly Bear Stewardship Framework and asked the public to read the 75-page document and complete a questionnaire about it by August 18, 2023. 

The Commercial Bear Viewing Association, Grizzly Bear Foundation, and Raincoast Conservation Foundation are urging the BC government to extend the response period to at least the end of 2023 to ensure the public has sufficient opportunity to read and understand the draft Framework and provide meaningful input. 

Though the proposed Framework outlines and declares broad, far reaching changes in policy that will affect grizzly bear conservation for decades to come, the restrictive comment period represents the only opportunity for the public to express their concerns and severely limits prospects of the Provincial government receiving and assessing public responses concerning the proposed Framework. 

“The lack of visibility leading up to the release of this Framework is further compounded by a short response period coinciding with summer holidays, as well as a time when bear viewing and outdoor businesses and guides are at the height of their season,” said Katherine MacRae, Executive Director of the Commercial Bear Viewing Association.

“In 2017 the BC Government recognized the resounding call of BC Residents and First Nations to end the grizzly bear hunt. They also made a promise to follow the Auditor General’s recommendation to develop a strategic plan for grizzly bears in BC. Now, together, we have this monumental opportunity to develop a world-leading piece of wildlife stewardship policy. But we need more time,” said Nicholas Scapillati, Executive Director, Grizzly Bear Foundation.

“The Framework contemplates a possible reinstatement of the grizzly bear hunt, which an overwhelming majority of BC residents oppose. Without a much broader public engagement and consultation, the Province risks a return to the controversy and conflict that previously marked this issue,” said Chris Genovali, Executive Director, Raincoast Conservation Foundation.

Insufficient access and time prohibit the public from digesting the implications of a lengthy technical report and completing a complicated and narrowly focused survey. This process does not represent appropriate consultation with the public.