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Overwhelming support to end all grizzly hunting in B.C.: Poll

The NDP government has promised to end trophy hunting of grizzlies but a new poll suggests widespread support to ban all hunting of the bears.

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

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward / Metro Web Upload

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

The majority of British Columbians want to end all forms of grizzly bear hunting, according to a new poll.

According to an Insights West poll – commissioned by Lush Cosmetics and the Commercial Bear Viewing Association – 74 per cent of people are in favour of the B.C. government banning all hunting of grizzly bears in the province.

Nineteen per cent were opposed.

The new NDP government announced in August it would outlaw the killing of the bears for trophies starting spring 2018.

And while 88 per cent of people polled support the move, Insights West vice president Mario Canseco said there’s clearly an appetite among the public for government to go even further.

“I wasn’t expecting as high a level of support to banning all kinds of grizzly bear hunting as what we saw,” the pollster told Metro. “I thought maybe this had more to do with the trophy aspect but now I’m starting to realize, looking at the numbers, it’s ultimately about the bears. There are a lot of people asking why we’re hunting grizzly bears. They’re looking at [banning] the trophy hunt as the first step to an eventual ban on all grizzly hunting.”

Even among the hunters that were polled, Insights West found 71 per cent support for the government’s ban on trophy hunting, and 58 per cent in favour of banning the hunting of the animal altogether.

“Grizzlies are not their No. 1 choice at this point. They’re saying, ‘There are plenty of other animals we can hunt and get meat from,’” said Canseco. “There are few people who are hunting grizzly bears and even fewer who are using them for meat.”

The ban announced by the NDP only applies to trophy hunting everywhere except for the Great Bear Rainforest, where the species will be completely protected.

Scientists estimate there are roughly 15,000 grizzlies in the province, and 250 are hunted each year.

The fall grizzly hunt ends Nov. 30.

The province put out a news release Tuesday reminding people that public consultation on the proposed trophy-hunting ban remains open until Nov. 2.

The policy documents outlining the proposed changes can be found at www.env.gov.bc.ca/fw.

-with files from David P. Ball

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