The Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine stands with the Tahltan Central Government’s call to reverse the grizzly bear hunting ban in the northwest.
Dave Brocklebank, RDKS Electoral Area D director for Telegraph Creek, Iskut and Bob Quinn told the board on Aug. 14 that the ban would cause more conflict between bears and people.
“If there is nothing keeping grizzly bear populations in check because they have no natural enemies, it’s going to grow, their population is going to grow,” he said.
“Bear-human conflicts are going to increase. That’s a fact of life.”
The ban on grizzly bear hunting was first enacted in 2017. The B.C. government said in a 2017 news release that the ban took into account consultations with First Nations, stakeholder groups and the public, in which 78 per cent of respondents recommended the hunt be stopped entirely. The ban was promoted by the government as a way to protect the species.
But the Tahltan Central Government has been calling on the province to reverse the ban. President Chad Day said that Tahltan people have noticed a surge in grizzly numbers.
“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 they’re not fearing humans as much as they normally would,” he said in July.
The Tahltan Central Government is the administrative governing body of the Tahltan Nation and the representative of the Tahltan Nation with respect to inherent Aboriginal title and rights.
One concern about the ban is that it could cause harm to caribou populations, a species the B.C. government has invested $47 million to protect. Brocklebank noted that if grizzly bear numbers increase, so will the number of caribou killed. He also mentioned that the hunting ban has had dire economic consequences for guide outfitters.
The RDKS board voted unanimously to support the Tahltan Central Government in its efforts to end the ban, and will make its position on the matter known to the Ministry of Environment.
“I support the motion because I think that this was nothing more than a symbolic gesture by the government to garner support from people who don’t live in the north, [who have] never seen a grizzly bear, and the part I find most objectionable; it wasn’t based on solid science,” said Bruce Bidgood, Electoral Area C director, rural Terrace area.
With files from Rebecca Dyok, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter