The previous B.C. Liberal government promised during the election end trophy hunting of grizzlies but only in the Great Bear Rainforest region on the B.C. coast, after First Nations there expressed anger at grizzlies being killed for sport and trophy body parts.
In March, the Grizzly Bear Foundation said during the last four years, the province has allowed up to 573 grizzlies to be killed each year, about almost four per cent of B.C.'s grizzly population.
The spring hunt in the province was scheduled to open in April, but the ban for both resident and non-resident hunters takes effect immediately.
"A focus on protecting grizzlies has been a constant throughout my time at the legislature, and I am proud to have been able to help advance this issue", said Andrew Weaver, MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head and Leader of the B.C. Green Party. Each year, around 250 are taken by hunters.
Environment Minister George Heyman says First Nations will still be allowed to hunt grizzlies for food, social or ceremonial reasons, or for treaty rights.
"This is a very smart move by the NDP", he said.
According to recent polls, over 70 per cent of B.C. residents, including hunters, support a ban on grizzly hunting.
"We're elated", said Raincoast Conservation spokesman Brian Falconer. According to the poll, almost 80 per cent of women polled said they approved.
But the government now says it has listened to the public and has concluded that a total ban on food and trophy hunting is the way to go.
In August 2017, government announced that, effective November 30, 2017, it would end trophy hunting of grizzly bears and stop all hunting of grizzly bears in the Great Bear Rainforest.
A report in October on grizzly bear management by the office of B.C. Auditor General Carol Bellringer found that habitat loss, not hunting, is the grizzly bear's worst enemy. There are 600,000 kilometres of resource roads and another 10,000 kilometres are added each year, allowing more human access to wilderness areas and the potential for increased illegal killing of grizzly bears.
Donaldson said the government remains committed to upholding B.C.'s hunting tradition despite taking the grizzly bear off the list of species one can hunt. While some grizzlies are killed by conservation officers after being deemed "problem bears" for nearby communities, the vast majority are killed by licensed hunters.
The Guide Outfitters Association of B.C. has been reached for comment but did not immediately respond.
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