First Nations tribes take a stand for bear populations
By Eric Wilkins, Staff Writer
In an effort to prevent trophy bear hunting, 10 First Nations tribes along the North and Central coast of British Columbia have recently joined forces and announced that the hunting of grizzly and black bears is now banned in their territory. The move comes on the heels of years of pushing the government to do just that.
Spokesman Chief Doug Neasloss said, “Despite years of effort by the Coastal First Nations to find a resolution to this issue with the province, this senseless and brutal trophy hunt continues. We will now assume the authority to monitor and enforce a closure of this senseless trophy hunt.”
Provincial Forests, Lands, and Natural Resources Minister Steve Thomson pointed out in his response the lack of actual authority the tribes possess, “I’m disappointed in the declaration that they’ve taken. Given that the province has the responsibility for setting the harvest limits, we’d ask them to respect that authority.”
The statement was also ill-received by those in the industry. “Our concern is that people without jurisdiction are unilaterally deciding something like this,” said Scott Ellis, Executive Director of the Guide Outfitters Association of BC “Hunting has been going on, on the North and Central coast, for more than 100 years and the bear populations are healthy.”
“That’s really a problem. We can’t walk up to these hunters and say, `You can’t hunt here.’ We can’t write a ticket,” said William Housty, also of the coalition. “Because we have not ceded any of this land to anybody, we feel that we have a voice and should have a voice in how these lands are managed and this includes the bear hunt.”
There was no comment on how they planned to move forward with enforcing the ban.
The tribes accuse trophy hunters of stripping the bears of anything of worth and then leaving the carcass behind. This causes a very unsightly scene for any wildlife tours that pass by.
The stand against trophy hunting received a boost last week when the Raincoast Conservation Foundation bought 3,500 square kilometers of hunting rights along the Central coast. The foundation, which now has the rights to 28,000 square kilometers and has spent approximately $1.6 million to date, was clear in its stance.
“Ecological issues aside, the coastal trophy bear hunt cannot be justified from either an ethical or economic perspective,” said Chris Genovali, Raincoast Executive Director. “This is part of the puzzle to get bear conservation put as a priority on the coast.”