There are approximately 15,000 grizzly bears in B.C. (Pixabay photo)

Northern B.C. First Nations call for reversal of grizzly bear hunting ban

Growing grizzly populations have led to fewer ungulates and increased fear of attacks says Chad Day

First Nations in the northwestern most corner of B.C. want to see the grizzly bear hunt restored within their territory.

Chad Day is the president of the Tahltan Central Government which serves as the administrative governing body of the remote Tahltan Nation.

He said it is important for people to understand that not all areas of the province have conservation concerns about grizzlies, which can kill up to 40 ungulate calves each month, according to studies in Alaska and other parts of the United States.

“They are the apex predators in our country,” Day said. “They are extremely dangerous to not just other wildlife but to people and the conservation efforts of other (prey) species that we hold dear as Canadians, British Columbians and Indigenous people.”

Read More: Grizzly bears move north in High Arctic as climate change expands range

Since the B.C. government ended all grizzly bear hunting across the province in December 2017, Day said the population in Tahltan territory, which covers an area larger than Portugal, has surged.

While members have luckily avoided being involved in an attack, it is only a matter of time, he said.

“They’ve been inside their camps more than normal,” he said. “Our people who go out hunting are pretty well-versed in the wilderness, obviously, so they’ve been able to avoid any serious issues with grizzly bears, but the feedback that we’ve received from everybody out on the land is that there are more grizzly bears than ever, that they’re becoming more aggressive than ever and that the’yre not fearing humans as much as they normally would.”

Tahltan people are certainly being more and more careful, he added.

Read More: After grizzly spotted in B.C. village, mayor warns not to come searching for the bears

The ban on grizzly bear hunting followed consultations with First Nations, stakeholder groups and the public, in which 78 per cent of respondents recommended the hunt be stopped entirely, noted the B.C. Government in a news release in December 2017.

Day, however, said the Tahltan people and Tahltan governments have always been of the mindset that predators, specifically grizzly bears and wolves, need to be properly managed through science and Indigenous-based decisions.

“The Tahltan people for hundreds, probably thousands of years, controlled predator populations to make sure that we had abundant wildlife populations especially with ungulates,” he said. “If we’re going to only kill ungulates as people and we’re going to protect apex predators like the grizzly bear it’s just common sense that over time you’re going to have more and more grizzlies and you’re going to have less and less ungulates and fish.”

A spokesperson with the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development said they are aware of the position of the Tahltan Central Government on grizzly bear hunting, however, have no plan to change the ban.

Read More: VIDEO: Trio of orphaned Alberta grizzly bear cubs find new home at Vancouver zoo

Grizzly bear research projects and habitat assessments continue, the spokesperson added.

“Proposals to implement management tools to implement habitat protections are underway in multiple areas of the province.”

An independent audit of grizzly bear management by Carol Bellringer in October 2017 found the B.C. Government did not fulfill many of their commitments including identifying and securing key grizzly bear habitats, creating a grizzly bear management plan and implementing a recovery plan for the North Cascades grizzly bear populations.

Bellringer made a total of ten recommendations to the province and wrote “the greatest threat to grizzly bears is not hunting, but rather, human activities that degrade grizzly bear habitat.”

Read More: UN report says nature is in worst shape in human history

The ministry spokesperson said Bellringer’s comment is reflective that hunting was managed in a manner as to not impact grizzly populations.

“The Province is continuing to advance the recommendations and reports annual to the Public Accounts Committee. There have been some delays this year due to challenges related to COVID-19.”

According to government figures there are about 15,000 grizzly bear in the province, which is about a quarter of the entire North American population.

The hunting ban upset many B.C. guide-outfitters who alleged the ‘bad form’ ban had nothing do with science and financially harmed them.

Approximately 25 per cent of guide-fitters eligible for transition support had applied and were approved, the ministry spokesperson said.

As the ban does not apply to First Nations who are still able to harvest grizzly bears for food, social or ceremonial purposes under their Aboriginal or treaty rights, Day is preparing to participate in his first grizzly hunt at the end of next month.

Read More: Tahltan ask visitors to stay away from their territory during COVID-19

He said the Tahltan Central Government will be working towards creating its own predator management program for the Tahltan Nation.

“We just want to make sure that we make balanced decisions that are based in science and Indigenous knowledge rather than based in emotions from whatever the most popular opinion is in B.C. because we know that the average British Columbian doesn’t live amongst grizzly bears and understand those apex predators like we do.”


Do you have a comment about this story? email:
rebecca.dyok@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

British ColumbiaFirst Nationsgrizzly

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

This photo of approximately 10 years ago shows Laureen Fabian, on the left, and daughter Caterina Andrews. Fabian went missing last October and her daughter is looking for answers. (Contributed photo)
Laureen Fabian’s disappearance remains a mystery

It’s been a year since she went missing

Members of the Houston Fire Department spent Oct. 25 at an old residence at the end of River Bank Drive provided to them by the owner so they could hold a live fire practice. (Angelique Houlihan photo/Houston Today)
Derelict house used for fire practice

Practice took place Oct. 25 on River Bank Drive

BC Hydro replaced poles in Houston on Oct. 23 causing a power outage in many spots in Houston. The next power outage for a transformer replacement is for today at Oct. 28 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. in these areas - 2240 to 2275 Baggerman Place; 3710 to 3895 Baggerman Crescent. (Angelique Houlihan photo/Houston Today)
Pole replacements in Houston

BC Hydro replaced poles in Houston on Oct. 23 causing a power… Continue reading

District of Houston
Keep on trucking … not

Council is shelving a planned truck stop feasibility study in favour of… Continue reading

District of Houston
District honing in on webcasting of meetings, events

Would further engage residents in District business

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps by 287, another senior home outbreak

Two more deaths recorded, community outbreak in Okanagan

An untitled Emily Carr painting of Finlayson Point was donated to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria by brothers Ian and Andrew Burchett. The painting had been in their family for several decades. (Courtesy of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria)
Never before seen painting by famed B.C. artist Emily Carr gifted to Victoria gallery

Painting among several donated to Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

The B.C. Centre for Disease control is telling people to keep an eye out for the poisonous death cap mushroom, which thrives in fall weather conditions. (Paul Kroeger/BCCDC)
Highly poisonous death cap mushroom discovered in Comox

This marks first discovery on Vancouver Island outside Greater Victoria area

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
Rescued bald eagle that came to life in B.C. man’s car had lead poisoning

Bird is on medication and recovering in rehab centre

Janet Austin, lieutenant governor of B.C., was presented with the first poppy of the Royal Canadian Legion’s 2020 Poppy Campaign on Wednesday. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
PHOTOS: B.C. Lieutenant Governor receives first poppy to kick off 2020 campaign

Janet Austin ‘honour and a privileged’ to receive the poppy

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Premier-elect John Horgan and cabinet ministers are sworn in for the first time at Government House in Victoria, July 18, 2017. (Arnold Lim/Black Press)
Pandemic payments have to wait for B.C. vote count, swearing-in

Small businesses advised to apply even if they don’t qualify

A raccoon paid a visit to a Toronto Tim Hortons on Oct. 22, 2020. (shecallsmedrew/Twitter)
Who are you calling a trash panda? Raccoon takes a shift at Toronto Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons said animal control was called as soon they saw the surprise visitor

The duffel bags were found to contain 84 pounds of cocaine, valued at approximately $1.2 million and 198 pounds of methamphetamine, valued at approximately $960,000. Photo courtesy U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
2 men accused of fleeing border agents near U.S.-B.C. border with $2M in drugs

Cocaine and methamphetamine seized by U.S. law enforcement in remote Idaho area near Canadian border

Most Read