Wildlife bureaucrats open grizzly hunting season in spite of wide-spread public opposition.
A recent Freedom of Information request for documents from the British Columbia provincial government revealed over 1,600 pages of documents and hundreds of emails related to the re-opening of grizzly hunting season. Most of these documents and emails disclose a staunch opposition to the hunt.
The documents also revealed that in one area the hunting season was opened without actual bear counts being submitted and in another area the hunt was approved based on what a biologist described as arbitrary and outdated information.
“The problem is no one [ever] updates anything in this ministry. We draw an arbitrary line based on our best guess and it remains fixed for 30 years,” wrote wildlife biologist Pat Dielman.
The Vancouver Observers investigation included analyzing the emails and documents. They concluded that the 88 percent of the public opinions filed opposed the hunt while only 12 percent supported it.
“If there is no biological harm, then why not? Hunters and guides are well aware of being out-numbered in the court of public opinion,” said Tony Hamilton, the province’s large carnivore specialist.
The provincial Grizzly Bear Harvest Management Procedure sets guidelines for when a grizzly hunt can be proposed to re-open and is supposed to rely on government staff calculations. If the calculations show that the number of grizzlies in a territory exceeds 50 percent of what is believed that a habitat area can naturally support, then a hunt can be opened. Since bears were not actually counted, some people are concerned that the grizzly bear hunt was approved based on a guesstimate. Politicians and experts each disagreed as to what information was absolutely necessary to verify before the grizzly hunt was re-opened.
Seven grizzlies were ultimately shot by hunters in the two re-opened areas. The hunt was then doubled for 2015 to allow up to 16 grizzly kills. Annually, about 300 grizzlies are shot within the Province.