Report puts pressure on B.C. to turn grizzly hunt ban into law
VANCOUVER — Although grizzly bear trophy hunting has been banned in B.C., a new report on bear and bear-parts exports identifies numerous problems with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora’s permitting system. The report — Grizzly Trophies in Europe: Are B.C. Grizzly Bear Body Parts Being Unlawfully Imported into the EU? — examined practices before the hunting ban was imposed, and found loopholes and inconsistencies that made it possible for hunters to export bear trophy items to the European Union despite its ban on grizzly trophies from B.C.
The report was commissioned by the David Suzuki Foundation to explore whether trophy taking was a factor driving grizzly bear deaths and to examine whether international trade rules were an effective check on unsustainable hunting.
“Although the fate of most of these grizzly bear hunting trophies is unknown, we can verify that hunters tried to import B.C. grizzly bear trophies into European Union member states,” said Jay Ritchlin, David Suzuki Foundation director-general for B.C. and Western Canada. “More research is needed to find out whether remaining grizzly bear hunting trophies were left in B.C. or the U.S., or were unlawfully transported into the EU. The findings also raise concerns about the illegal export of animal parts other than grizzlies from Canada.”
The report found the CITES permitting system, the only mechanism to track grizzly trophies across national borders, is ineffective. Anyone who wants to take grizzly bear parts or trophies out of Canada must get a CITES export permit. A review of export permits granted between 2004 and 2015 indicates that between 25 and 36 hunters from the EU received export permits to repatriate grizzly hunting trophies. The EU suspended importation of grizzly bear hunting trophies from B.C. in 2004, so these export permits should never have been granted.
“The grizzly bear trophy hunt was the largest source of human-caused grizzly bear deaths in B.C. over the decades when trophy hunting was legal,” Ritchlin said. “This new information highlights the need to go beyond a ban and enact a law to ensure this damaging practice is halted for good.”
The Foundation campaigned for close to 15 years to improve the science and management of grizzly bears and to end the trophy hunt in B.C. Other parts of Canada, including Yukon, still allow grizzly bear trophy hunting. A century ago, 35,000 grizzly bears lived in B.C. and more flourished from Alaska to Mexico to Manitoba. Only 15,000 grizzly bears remain in B.C., and nine populations are on the verge of disappearing.
The Foundation advocates that those areas of the country with grizzlies improve science, habitat protection and management practices for the bears to thrive.
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