Provincial NDP leader John Horgan says it's time to end grizzly-bear hunts in B.C.

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      As campaigns begin to heat up ahead of the May 2017 provincial election, the B.C. NDP has made an announcement aimed at fans of wildlife conservation.

      “It’s time to end B.C.'s grizzly-bear trophy hunt,” party leader John Horgan said at a news conference this morning (November 24).

      “As British Columbians, we have a proud outdoor heritage that includes hunting and fishing,” he continued. “We also have a growing ecotourism industry. Bear-viewing creates more jobs in local communities and generates millions of dollars more than trophy hunting.

      “Killing these bears for sport is unacceptable to First Nations and a majority of British Columbians—including hunters.”

      Horgan is up for reelection in the riding of Juan de Fuca on Vancouver Island. In the 2013 election, he defeated the Liberal party’s Kerrie Reay, capturing 53 percent of the vote compared to her 31 percent. The Greens placed third with 15 percent for Carlos Serra.

      Each year, hunters in B.C. kill significantly more bears than some people might realize.

      In April 2015, the Straight reported that for the past two decades, hunters have killed an average of 262 grizzly bears each year. That number has remained relatively stable despite the government issuing more licences to hunters.

      The province says there are approximately 15,000 grizzly bears in British Columbia, though many wildlife researchers say we don't know their true number, and warn they could be much lower than that estimate.

      The NDP’s proposal for a ban on grizzly bear hunts does not mention black bears.

      Each year in B.C., hunters kill an average of 3,965 black bears.

      In June 2016, the Straight ran a lengthy commentary on the grizzly-bear hunt written by Martyn Brown, chief of staff to former Liberal premier Gordon Campbell.

      Brown described the annual hunt as “British Columbia’s great shame” and emphasized that a high portion of licences to kill grizzly bears go to foreign tourists.

      Despite Liberal government arguments to the contrary, Brown continued, allowing grizzly bears to be hunted contributes little to B.C.’s economy.

      He also noted that polling shows 91 percent of British Columbians are against allowing the hunt. The Liberal government has long resisted calls for a ban on the practice.

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