How secure are black bears in BC?
Black bears are well-equipped to adjust to changing environments and the population of black bears in BC is at a historic high. The BC Wildlife Branch estimates that there are between 120,000 and 160,000 black bears in the province. There are an estimated 803,000 black bears in North America.
Is it true that bear cubs are hunted?
No, this is prevented under provincial regulations. Controversy over spring bear hunting in Ontario has recently been orchestrated by animal rights activists, who played on the publics sympathies for cubs. Spring bear hunts actually increase protection of productive females because more of them are accompanied by young, which identifies them and legally excludes them from being hunted. Animal-rights activists now are opposing aspects of the fall black bear hunt in Ontario.
Don't most people oppose bear hunting?
An initiative by animal rights activists calling for a referendum on a moratorium on all bear hunting in BC failed to get enough signatures to get on the ballot in 1996. The BC Minister of Environment recently reaffirmed the basis for scientific management of grizzly bears in the province. And recent public opinion polls show that a majority of BC residents support bear hunting once they have enough information.
Why is black bear hunting appropriate?
We believe hunting is in the best interest of the black bear population and in the best interest of conservation. It is also an important recreational pursuit and a way of life for some people, including most guide-outfitters and many First Nations. The scientific basis for wildlife management is that a hunted population is more productive than one at carrying capacity. Population growth depends on both the birth and death rates. While bears possess relatively low reproductive rates, sows are good mothers and survival and longevity are higher than for most other large mammals.
Hunting is an important management tool and without it many more black bears may be killed illegally and more may become the subject of nuisance control actions. Conservation Officers will need to spend much more time controlling bear-human conflict situations, further reducing the time they spend on enforcement. As the number of British Columbians increases to four million and residential and industrial developments grow, more people will encounter black bears. While more people complained about black bears and more people were attacked during the 1990s, the time Conservation Officers were able to spend on black bear control has not increased.
What is the attitude of hunters towards wildlife and habitat conservation? We encourage conservationists and hunters to adhere to the conservation ethic. A high standard of ethics is reflected in a safe, courteous and respectful relationship between the hunter and his companions, wildlife, others and the environment (CORE manual). Hunting is a privilege that can only continue where hunters help to maintain viable populations of wildlife, uphold high ethical and legal standards, and encourage the utmost safety in the handling of firearms. We do not condone illegal or excessive killing and we respect the rights and sensibilities of land-owners and residents of an area.
How secure are BC's Grizzly Bears?
Grizzly bears are neither threatened nor endangered in BC but in some areas their habitat is vulnerable, so they are blue-listed. The provincial Grizzly Bear population at 10 to 13 thousand is not low, thus they are not red-listed as threatened or endangered. While BC has lost Grizzly Bear habitat in heavily urbanized or farmed areas in the Lower Mainland and in the Thompson-Okanagan and Peace, 92% of the original Grizzly Bear habitat is still occupied, 81% of it at or near historic levels.
The Grizzly Bear Conservation Strategy, initiated in 1995, established a Grizzly Bear Scientific Advisory Committee, injected money into inventory/research, raised poaching penalties, raised license fees, and initiated Limited Entry Hunting province-wide (MELP 1995a & b). In addition to some new areas recently closed to hunting, there are areas which have been closed to Grizzly Bear hunting for at least 30 years, particularly adjacent to threatened US Grizzly Bear populations (BC Wildlife Branch records).
Why do people hunt bears, particularly Grizzly Bears?
People hunt for a variety of reasons. Some are very personal, relating to their family, culture or traditions. Others hunt because of the overall experience of being in nature and enjoying wild places. Most Grizzly Bear hunters are totally satisfied with just the experience since the majority never actually kill a grizzly. Many take only one bear in their lifetime.
Why is hunting appropriate?
In BC, we have healthy populations of Grizzly Bears, sophisticated bear inventory methods, well-funded research programs, well-managed hunting regulations based on strict conservation principles, and highly-trained, effective enforcement. Importantly, the scientific basis for wildlife management is that a hunted population is more productive than one at carrying capacity. Population growth depends on both the birth and death rate. While Grizzly Bears may have a slow reproductive rate, sows are good mothers and survival rates are higher than for most other large mammals.