A bold statement from the Minister of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resources Steve Thomson in January left many British Columbians believe an end had come to the controversial trophy bear hunt in the Great Bear Rainforest.
"The agreement today as we announced retires the commercial hunt for grizzly bear for the Great Bear Rainforest," Thomson said at a news conference. "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."
It was the National Observer that identified the flaw in this statement, and highlighted it in a conversation with Raincoast Conservation Foundation’s Brian Falconer: "This false sense of relief is deadly," said Falconer. "Sixty per cent of grizzly kills in the province goes to resident hunters."
The commercial hunt in the Great Bear Rainforest will not end until non-profits and First Nations organizations buyout the existing hunting licenses from guide-outfitters – a process that will cost millions and could take years.
The BC Liberal government’s announcement also did not sit well with Coastal First Nations, whose spokesperson Douglas Nealoss says, “we have never surrendered our authority over these lands.”
The controversy surrounding the hunt goes on, costing the lives of bears, the dignity of First Nations, and the livelihoods of many non-consumptive ecotourism operators.
Only an outright ending of trophy hunting, and the legal acknowledgement of Coast First Nations’ land rights in British Columbia will protect the grizzly bears of the Great Bear Rainforest.