Big News for Grizzly Bears and all Wildlife: BC Government Transfers Wildlife Act to Ministry of WALRS
The BC Government has announced, effective immediately, the transfer of the Wildlife Act and 27 other acts from the Ministry of Forests to the Ministry of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship–WALRS.
Since 1905 the governance of wildlife management has fallen under the umbrella of forests and game. Wildlife was considered a "game species" managed for hunting and trapping, and terms like “ecosystem” and “biodiversity” were not yet coined or understood. Over the years ministries have been renamed and reshuffled, with the Wildlife Act being tied to forestry up until now. We applaud the BC government for bringing wildlife under a Ministry that reflects the values of BC Residents and First Nations with a focus on stewardship.
"We're hopeful this shift brings with it the change needed to address the climate and biodiversity crisis, including a move away from the outdated North American wildlife management model and a new approach to wildlife stewardship in BC," said Nicholas Scapillati, Executive Director, Grizzly Bear Foundation.
Currently, the Wildlife Branch is heading up a public engagement process to gather feedback on the draft Grizzly Bear Stewardship Framework. This process has raised criticism for its ill-planned and limited five-week timeline during the height of the summer. The Grizzly Bear Foundation and other environmental groups have been rallying the public, with thousands of letters written, to pressure the Ministry of Forests to extend the public engagement deadline, which is now in its third extension ending October 31st.
The BC Government ended the grizzly bear hunt in 2017, promising to follow the Auditor General's recommendation and develop a grizzly bear management plan. The announcement to move the Wildlife Act comes amid the province's work to fulfill that promise.
"It's promising that leadership on wildlife issues will no longer come from the Ministry of Forests and will instead come from the Ministry of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship. This is a big and promising move for wildlife conservation in BC. We hope WALRS will better recognize how beloved the grizzly bear is to BC residents and First Nations and be more thoughtful about public engagement while paying closer attention to this critical grizzly bear conservation and welfare document," said Nicholas Scapillati, Executive Director, Grizzly Bear Foundation.
The public can still raise their voice for the grizzly bear until October 31st. For more information on the Grizzly Bear Stewardship Framework and how to participate in the public engagement process, please visit grizzlybearfoundation.com/stewardship.
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