Five Years Free: Celebrating the grizzly bear’s fifth year free from hunting in British ColumbiaVANCOUVER, April 1st, 2022 — As grizzly bears emerge from their dens free from the threat of hunters this spring, grizzly bear advocates are celebrating the five year anniversary of a conservation milestone: the BC government’s 2017 decision to end the grizzly bear hunt in BC. Five years ago today, the spring grizzly bear hunt opened in British Columbia – for the last time.
“Through the tireless efforts over twenty years from First Nations, conservation groups and individuals, we are thankful for the historic decision the government made in 2017, and we continue to celebrate that milestone today. In a province free from grizzly bear hunting, we are building a lasting and effective conservation economy through tourism. Bear viewing is a low impact, high yield activity that aids in the protection of bears and their ecosystems.” – Kathy MacRae, Executive Director of the Commercial Bear Viewing Association of BC (CBVA)
An average of 300 grizzly bears were hunted in the province each year. By the end of 2022, approximately 1,500 grizzly bears will have been saved from hunting since the 2017 decision. Ending the grizzly bear hunt was a monumental recognition of the values of British Columbians, a progressive wildlife management policy, and a significant step for the welfare and conservation of the grizzly bear.
“Through the consultation process with First Nations, stakeholder groups and the public, 78% of respondents recommended the hunt be stopped entirely,” stated the BC Government in the December 18, 2017 news release.
The Grizzly Bear Foundation and the Commercial Bear Viewing Association work in collaboration to advocate for grizzly bear conservation and the bear-viewing industry – the two go hand in hand. In 2019, Commercial Bear Viewing Association operators began collecting a conservation license fee from their guests; they raised more than $114,000 for grizzly bear conservation that first year.
“Grizzly bears are iconic symbols of the wild. This five year milestone is an opportunity to celebrate these majestic animals, the important roles they play in our cultures, economies, and ecosystems, and the collaborative work being done to protect them.” – Nicholas Scapillati, Executive Director of the Grizzly Bear Foundation.
The push to end the grizzly bear hunt was a collaborative effort thanks to the tireless work of many First Nations and conservation organizations, including the Coastal First Nations and the Central Coast Bear Working Group, Commercial Bear Viewing Association, Raincoast Conservation Foundation, Pacific Wild, David Suzuki Foundation, Echo Conservation Society, and the Grizzly Bear Foundation, as well as overwhelming support from British Columbians. Celebrating this five-year milestone cannot be done without recognizing the critical leadership and contributions of these Nations, organizations, and many more.
The Grizzly Bear Foundation and its partners continue to work on the most challenging issues facing grizzly bears, from habitat degradation to food security to human-bear coexistence issues. Grizzly bears were listed as a species of Special Concern under the federal Species At Risk Act in 2018, and some populations in southwest BC are classified by the IUCN as Critically Endangered, Endangered, and Vulnerable. In anticipation of the upcoming provincial Grizzly Bear Management Plan, there is much work to be done to safeguard the grizzly bear’s future in BC, one of the last areas in North America where grizzlies still live in their natural habitat.