Wise and Sustainable Use of Grizzly Bears

by | Apr 2, 2012 | Sustainability

The Guide Outfitters Association of British Columbia (GOABC) supports the North American Wildlife Conservation Model.

Developed through the collaborative efforts of passionate hunters, anglers, and government, the North American Model outlines seven principles for sustainable use. Wildlife populations across the continent have benefited from this model, including many of British Columbia’s big game species, such as bison, whitetail deer, black bears, and Roosevelt elk.

Two key aspects of the North American Model are the use of science and laws to manage and protect wildlife. Today BC’s government continues to use these tools, ensuring that use is sustainable and that habitat capacity is properly considered.

The GOABC shares the concerns voiced by some anti-hunting groups in regards to grizzly bear habitats and the impacts of expanding industrial development. We should always consider how our actions affect wildlife, and need to ensure that decisions are made prudently. We appreciate that anti-hunting organizations raise this topic each year, but we disagree about the solution they propose.
Grizzly bear hunting is sustainable and science-based. Harvest data provides valuable information to government on grizzly bear populations. This information is combined with DNA inventory and the latest grizzly bear modeling to help accurately assess grizzly bear populations in BC. As human activities expand further into grizzly bear habitat, it becomes increasingly critical that science and law are used to guide all wildlife management decisions.

In 2002 government commissioned a Grizzly Bear Scientific Panel comprised of the world’s leading bear experts to conduct a comprehensive review on how grizzly bears are managed. While there were a number of recommendations for improvement, the panel did find that BC’s approach to managing grizzly bears was sustainable. Following the release of the report from the Scientific Panel, the majority of the province remained open to grizzly bear hunting as best science clearly indicated that a wise and sustainable harvest of grizzly bears was possible and posed no threat to populations.
Internationally renowned scientist Dr. Mitch Taylor once noted that hunting is the “quintessential indicator of healthy population” because only healthy wildlife populations with surplus animals can be hunted. Under the North American Model, hunting can be considered an objective of conservation, a signal that management is retaining strong and abundant wildlife populations. The Scientific Panel’s report continues to provide direction for wildlife management today.

The grizzly bear harvest in BC is closely monitored. Harvest reports must be completed after a hunt and the Ministry conducts a Compulsory Inspection on each harvested grizzly bear. The penalties for those caught poaching grizzly bears provide a strong statement on government’s commitment to ensuring the grizzly bear hunting is lawful, sustainable and informed by science: the fines for poaching grizzly bears range from $1,000 to $50,000.

Once government biologists decide on the annual allowable harvest for an area, shares are allocated between resident and guided hunters, which are controlled by lottery and quota respectively. In 2011, the human-caused mortality of grizzly bears was 383. This is approximately 2% of the population and consistent with the normal range of grizzly bear human-caused morality for the last 30 years. This is well below the 6% maximum used by the Province of BC when calculating the annual allowable harvest.

Hunting by BC residents and guided clients contributes $350 million per year to BC’s economy. Guide outfitters have functioned as an integral part of rural communities in our province for over a century, investing in their hunting areas and showcasing BC’s beautiful backcountry to visitors from around the world. Today our industry provides over 2,000 jobs in rural communities and $120 million in revenue each year. In addition, the revenues generated from the sale of hunting licences, tags and royalties have provided over $140 million to habitat restoration and enhancement projects across the province through the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation. What other sector group has contributed as much to wildlife conservation on an ongoing basis?

The GOABC is a nonprofit organization that was established in 1966 to represent the guide outfitting industry to government and advocate for science-based wildlife management. Today the GOABC continues to provide a strong voice for the wise and sustainable use of natural resources.

More information is available at www.goabc.org. Please contact GOABC’s Executive Director, Scott Ellis, atellis@goabc.org or 1-877-818-2688 if you have any questions.