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British Columbia has banned grizzly bear hunting, permanently

The Canadian province of British Columbia has banned grizzly bear hunting in all its forms. According to the Environment Minister, bears are worth more alive.

An adult grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis), a northern American subspecies of the brown bear, has no enemies in the wild – with exception for humans. The grizzly bears living in British Columbia, Canada, can now heave a sigh of relief and only think about gorging on salmons to accumulate fat ahead of winter. The Canadian province has in fact banned, with immediate effect, the hunt of these large plantigrade mammals, which were once widely spread in north-western America while today only a few thousands survive.

Grizzly che mangia un salmone
Compared to their European relatives, grizzly bears are larger due to the great abundancy of preys © Ingimage

Killing grizzly bears is no longer acceptable

In August 2017 British Columbia’s provincial government banned grizzly bear trophy hunting, but killing bears for their meat was still allowed. Such ban has thus been extended and now it is no longer possible to shoot at grizzly bears, with the exception of First Nations, the Canadian native peoples who hunt for food, social and ceremonial reasons. “It is no longer socially acceptable to the vast majority of British Columbians to hunt grizzly bears,” said BC Forest minister Doug Donaldson. Donaldson also cited a recent survey showing that 78 per cent of the 4,200 interviewees urged an end to bear hunting.

It’s just the first step

British Columbia is home to an estimated 15,000 grizzly bears, a sustainable number according to Donaldson, and hunters used to kill 150 individuals every year. The decision to put an end to grizzly bear hunting, which has taken effect right after the close of the fall hunting season, was welcomed with enthusiasm by conservationists and environmental activists. “It’s a welcome surprise,” said Rachel Forbes, head of the Grizzly Bear Foundation. “It’s been well over a decade of bad news for bears in B.C., so we’re not usually prepared for good news. The easy decision is done, now the hard work on addressing all the other cumulative threats to grizzly bears, such as habitat loss and food supply, has to begin.”

La natura incontaminata della British Columbia
One of the main threat to the survival of grizzly bears is habitat loss due to the increase in human settlements and activities © Ingimage

The ban, however, has triggered cricisisms among liberals who condemned the decision of the New Democratic Party (NDP), which took office in July after Liberals governed for 16 years in a row. Some opponents claim that the NDP’s move was designed to appease environmentalists after they protested against a hydroelectric plant in the north-east of the province.

Mamma orsa con i suoi piccoli
The name ‘grizzly’ derives from these animals’ ‘grizzled’coat © Ingimage

Bears are worth more alive

The ban on grizzly bear hunting has naturally irritated hunters and people involved in the hunt industry, which expect negative economic effects for the province. Environment Minister George Heyman replied by citing research according to which the positive economic impact of ecotourism linked to grizzly bear is way higher than hunting, both for revenues and new jobs.

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