It’s time to celebrate! The spring season brings with it a new conservation milestone: grizzly bears in British Columbia are five years free from being hunted by foreign and residential hunters for their hide, paws, and head. The BC government's decision to end grizzly bear hunting throughout the province in 2017 was a monumental recognition of the values of British Columbians, a progressive wildlife management policy, and a significant step forward for the welfare and conservation of the grizzly bear. Join us and grizzly bear advocates across Canada and around the world in celebrating this five year anniversary.
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As patches of snow linger and alpine meadows bloom, grizzly bears emerge from their dens this spring, safe from the threat of being hunted. In previous years, the spring grizzly bear hunt was not only re-opened but at times expanded. As one of the slowest reproducing land mammals, grizzly bears are among the most vulnerable keystone species in North America. For over a decade, four out of every five grizzly bear deaths were from hunters and exceeded government limits in half of all hunted populations. Female bears, "the reproductive engine of grizzly populations", accounted for an annual average of 34% of the bears killed by humans. The loss of a reproducing female bear from the landscape is a significant impact to the population and the ecosystems they roam - in a population of 15 bears, there are likely fewer than 5 breeding-age adult females and half of any given grizzly bear population are mature breeding adults. On average, 300 grizzly bears were killed per year. Many more went unreported. But this year, we can feel relief and allow hope into our hearts.
We are celebrating this five year anniversary because people like you spoke up and defended the majestic grizzly bear - 78% of respondents through the government's consultation process with First Nations, stakeholder groups and the public, recommended the hunt be stopped entirely - hundreds of at-risk bears live to see another year. In harmony with 90% of people in B.C. opposed to hunting for sport (i.e. trophy hunting), and the tireless campaigning of First Nations and conservation groups, we witnessed unprecedented and progressive change in government wildlife policy.
By the end of this year, an estimated 1,500 grizzly bears will have been saved from hunting. From the Great Bear Rainforest to the slopes of the Selkirk and Purcell Mountains, these majestic animals are iconic symbols of the wild lands of British Columbia. Grizzly bears are born to roam wild; they’re born to roam free. This is an example of the future we are capable of realizing when we work together in unison, for generations to come. Join us.
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“Bear-viewing has become a major ecotourism revenue generator, bringing in about 10 times more than grizzly-bear hunting” - Julius Strauss
Thank you for rejoicing with us as we reach this monumental milestone. As we collectively share in the joy of knowing that grizzly bears are emerging from their dens without the risk of being hunted, it’s important to remember that grizzly bears continue to face growing threats.
While grizzly bears were listed in 2018 as a Species of Special Concern in Canada under federal legislation, they have no federal protections under the Species at Risk Act (SARA). A 2016 assessment by the IUCN’s Bear Specialist Group concluded that three Canadian sub-populations are critically-endangered, one is endangered, and one is vulnerable. Provincially listed in B.C. as S3 - “Vulnerable” and “Sensitive”, these listings and assessments draw attention to the dire situation and delicate future for Canadian grizzly bears. Over 60% of grizzly bears' mortalities are due to human causes, including:
Because of you, these icons of nature are emerging from their dens this spring to live another year free of being hunted.
Photos FEATURED ON THIS PAGE ARE by Taylor Green & Tom Rivest