Future of B.C.'s grizzly trophy hunt uncertain as fall hunt approaches
NDP promised to end the controversial hunt, but few details on how and when the ban would be implemented
A grizzly bear is seen fishing for salmon along the Atnarko river in Tweedsmuir Provincial Park near Bella Coola, B.C.
The NDP promised to end B.C.'s grizzly bear trophy hunt, but with the September hunt rapidly approaching there are few details to explain how or when that would happen.
B.C.'s grizzly bear trophy hunt allows both resident and non-resident hunters to purchase a licence to hunt a grizzly bear for sport according to a predetermined quota.
Licence cost varies according to whether the hunter is a B.C. resident ($80) or not ($1000). Non-residents are also required to employ a registered guide outfitter. The trophy hunt takes place in the spring and fall.
Last November, Premier John Horgan made a campaign promise he would end the controversial hunt, promising full protection for the "majestic animals."
But with the hunt scheduled in September, the deadline to pass a ban is imminent.
The former Liberal government maintained the hunt has a positive economic impact — supporting local outfitters and tourist operations — and that the grizzly population is healthy enough to absorb the hunt.
Mark Werner, the vice-president of the Guide Outfitters Association of B.C., said the hunt is an important part of the province's heritage.
"This country and this province [were] built on trapping, hunting and fishing," he said. "We have a lot of heritage here. We have a lot of culture here."
B.C. NDP leader John Horgan promised to end the practice of grizzly bear trophy hunting in November 2016
But the hunt has been less popular with other groups.
Last June, at the request of the David Suzuki Foundation and the University of Victoria Environmental Law Centre, the auditor general set out to investigate whether the government was setting appropriate bear quotas.
Last August, the Coastal First Nations — an alliance of nine First Nations along the central and north B.C. coast and Haida Gwaii — declared their own ban on the hunt in the Great Bear Rainforest calling the trophy hunt "disrespectful."
Both the NDP and the Greens made promises to end the trophy hunt during the election campaign.
Even the Liberals shifted their position slightly, promising to eliminate the trophy hunt within the Great Bear Rainforest.
Details unclear, but optimism abounds
Kitasoo Band Chief Councillor Doug Neasloss, a representative for the Coastal First Nations, says he's optimistic about the NDP's promise to end the hunt.
"We certainly don't want to see another hunt go forward this fall and so I think we'll do as much as we can," he said.
B.C. Green MLA Adam Olsen also expressed optimism the NDP government would move to end the hunt.
"The government was sworn in last week and the issue binders must be very thick," he said.
"I don't know what their timeline is ... [but] certainly from my perspective, I'd like to see it go as far as it can go."
A spokesperson for the Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development told CBC News the party is still committed to ending the trophy hunt and will be consulting with stakeholders, although they couldn't say when the ban would be implemented.