VOHRINGER: Science says B.C.’s grizzly bears are doing fine

By on November 1, 2016
Othmar Vohringer lives in the Nicola Valley. He is an animal behaviourist and outdoor writer for hunting magazines in Canada and the U.S.

British Columbia has a good reputation for its world-class grizzly bear conservation and management program and has taken steps to improve it even more.

The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations has commissioned an independent scientific review of the grizzly bear harvest management system in B.C. The review found that the province has a “very high level of rigour and adequate safeguards in place to ensure the long-term stability of grizzly populations.”

It is also noted that BC has “produced more DNA-based population estimates for grizzly bears than any other similar jurisdiction in the world.”

The grizzly bear harvest management system review has 51 recommendations including furthering the enhancement of grizzly habitat protection, population inventory, access and harvest management. The government will take the recommendations into consideration in their future management plans for grizzly bears.

Steve Thomson, minister of forests, states that “the panel confirmed that B.C.’s population estimates are second to none and has provided many valuable recommendations that will further improve grizzly bear management decisions in B.C. and help guide long-term conservation policy and procedures for years to come.”

Andrew Deocher, co-author of the scientific review of grizzly bear harvest management system in B.C. had this to say: “Assessing the sustainability of wildlife harvest is a challenge for many species, but the B.C. grizzly bear harvest management procedures are rigorous, science-based and have meaningful safeguards. The future of grizzly bears in the coming decades, however, will depend on planning, habitat management, population monitoring and conservative harvest levels.”

The current estimate of B.C.’s grizzly bear population stands at 15,000. The population has been steadily growing over the years and today we see grizzly bears even in places like the Lower Mainland, where they were considered absent.

This is in stark contrast to the multitude of self-serving animal rights and anti-hunting groups proliferating the mainstream media with claims that the grizzly bear is an endangered species and that therefore all hunting should be stopped immediately — a notion that the NDP and BC Green Party keep regurgitating too.

Hunters, anglers and other outdoor recreational users can attest to the findings of the special commission that grizzly bear populations are on an upward trend as they encounter more bears and signs of them everywhere, even here in the Nicola Valley. I am pleased that our provincial government bases their wildlife management and conservation efforts on science, unlike some other jurisdictions in Canada that seem to be more worried about the opinions and votes of animal rights and anti-hunters — predominantly dwelling in big cities — than about scientific facts.

As our province’s example proves over and over again, good wildlife management always should be fact and science based.

A rather little known fact is that hunters are a vital part of science based wildlife management. Hunters are the “tool” of ensuring balanced wildlife populations, but they are also the sole contributors of the finances needed. Hunters also make up the bulk of the membership in organizations like the BC Wildlife Federation, Wild Sheep Society of BC, Ducks Unlimited, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the hundreds of local fish & game clubs across our province that support federal, provincial and local governments with volunteer work in the important work of wildlife conservation.

5 Comments

  1. Anthony Britneff

    November 2, 2016 at 8:22 am

    Science does not say anything of the sort. The report has not been peer reviewed and vetted by an independent editor at a scientific journal. It was commissioned by the provincial government for the government.

    The elephant in the room is uncertainty in the review process for timber supply (TSR) that informs the rate of logging (AAC). This uncertainty in the Boundary area around Grand Forks — home to the threatened Kettle-Granby grizzly bear — results in over-estimation of the potential annual tree harvest. This leads to logging within the wildlife habitat area for grizzlies and to excessive road densities that fragment that habitat.

    The key driver toward extirpation of grizzly bears is unsustainable logging that destroys habitat.

  2. Barb Murray

    November 2, 2016 at 8:29 am

    This article is biased to support hunters of Grizzlies! No question about it! Did you know that the grizzly hunt only brings in $34,000 to the Grizzly Bear Conservation Strategy fund within the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation (’15-’16 yr-end figure) these are the monies collected fr surcharges on tags and licences for Grizzlies paid by resident and non resident hunters of Grizzlies. The black bears actually are carrying the weight of the major funding for grizzly research via surcharges to the tune of $212k. Also the auctioning of a sheep by govt to Trophy hunter adds $181k to general conservation fund by hunters of all other species to total 2.8M Anglers’ surcharges total $3.4M or so. We don’t need hunting of Grizzlies to help conserve or manage them. Grizzlies depend on a bottom up process to survive…plants play a major role in sustaining them and if there is a poor food supply then they do not reproduce, cub mortality increases and some bears die in their den. We DO NOT NEED hunters to manage grizzly bears and never have over thousands of years. All biologists know this and the report commissioned by govt does not reflect peer reviewed science. This is a biased report to fill a political need by BC’s present government.

    • Anthony Britneff

      November 2, 2016 at 10:25 am

      Barb,
      Did you know that:
      (1) The government allows trophy hunting for grizzly bears in provincial parks;? And,
      (2) Some hunters use dogs and high-tech GPS tracking gear to hunt bears?

  3. Louise Taylor

    November 2, 2016 at 9:59 am

    Another spin article on the BC government’s spin report on its grizzly bear “management”. This report has not been peer-reviewed. Secondly, there is no need for any humans, let alone hunters, to manage grizzly bears. Grizzly bears manage their own populations. when there is enough food, the sows will give birth. If there is not enough food, the impregnated sows will not give birth. No one knows how many grizzly bears there are in BC therefore we need to apply the precautionary principle and ban the hunt and protect much more grizzly bear habitat from human encroachment.

  4. George Christou

    November 5, 2016 at 10:24 am

    Vohringer is at it again. For the record I am a hunter but yet again I am chuckling at his methods and conclusions. He refers to the study as “an independent scientific review “. What? Does he understand what that means. He is also giving credit to the liberal provincial government for”basing their wildlife management and conservation efforts on science”. What an idiot.
    Our government has failed miserably across the board on environmental issues. The record on that is very evident.
    As far as my opinion on Grizzly hunting I have to admit that even though I think that predator control is sometimes necessary I am very uncomfortable with the notion of killing for sport.

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