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Grizzly trophy hunting to be outlawed in B.C. after fall hunt ends

B.C. NDP fulfills election promise to end the trophy hunt, but will allow meat harvest to continue after this coming season's hunt.

A grizzly bear fishes along a river in Tweedsmuir Provincial Park near Bella Coola, B.C. Friday, Sept 10, 2010.

Jonathan Hayward / The Canadian Press

A grizzly bear fishes along a river in Tweedsmuir Provincial Park near Bella Coola, B.C. Friday, Sept 10, 2010.

The British Columbian government will ban grizzly bear trophy hunting at the end of November.

The B.C. NDP's announcement Monday came just one day before the province opens two of its wildlife management units — the Peace River region and part of the Omineca region — for grizzly hunting.

"By bringing trophy hunting of grizzlies to an end, we're delivering on our commitment to British Columbians," Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development Minister Doug Donaldson said in a statement. "This action is supported by the vast majority of people across our province."

Scientists estimate there are roughly 15,000 grizzlies in the province, and 250 are hunted each year. The ban only applies to trophy hunting, not hunting for meat, the NDP said.

Successful hunter applicants were chosen by lottery in what’s called the limited entry hunt (LEH). Most other regions’ seasons open on Sept. 1, in two weeks, but several are later. Nov. 30 is the last day of all grizzly hunting permitted in B.C. for the fall season, so the ban will only affect the spring 2018 hunt onwards.

The hunt has long been controversial, with the province insisting its own scientists had found enough grizzly populations to justify a limited hunt, and other researchers disputing those facts in the absense of clear population data.

But successful applicants for the LEH received a letter from the province pleading with them to spare female grizzlies, even though hunting them is permitted on the grounds that it "takes patience and perseverance to distinguish a male … from a female grizzly."

The letter, which opens with a note of "congratulations on your successful application," the province begs hunters to "consider why it is important to select a male grizzly bear during your hunt," and that the province is "appealing that you and your fellow hunters consider the implications of harvesting a female bear" because killing them "can have a dramatic impact on a population's growth rate."

The B.C. Liberals long resisted efforts to curtail grizzly bear hunting, a lucrative sport for out-of-country trophy hunters and the province’s guides and outfitting companies, many of which donated to the party.

Under pressure from First Nations and environmentalists, the province banned the hunt in the Great Bear Rainforest area but allowed it everywhere else.

The B.C. NDP vowed to ban the hunt across the province.

One group that's been vocal in support of the grizzly hunt has been the Guide Outfitters Association of B.C., which donated more than $15,000 to the B.C. Liberals in 2016, and nearly $67,000 since 2005; the group gave $8,025 to the B.C. NDP over the same period.

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