The 10 nations of British Columbia’s north and central coasts have declared a moratorium on bear hunting on their lands — despite the fact that it is unclear whether they can legally enforce such an act.
“That’s an issue that we’re facing — how we’re going to be able to deal with that without the province supporting us,” said Coalition Spokesman William Housty of the Heiltsuk First Nation in an interview with CBCNews. “That’s really a problem. We can’t walk up to these hunters and say, `You can’t hunt here.’ We can’t write a ticket.”
Then why declare a moratorium in the first place?
The answer, Housty said, lies with hunters and poachers who leave bear carcasses to rot despite signs asking them not to. First of all, Housty needs to understand the difference between a hunter and a poacher. The former not being the one that leaves an animal to rot after shooting it. Secondly, does Housty really expect poachers to follow posted instructions? Or adhere to another law that makes what they’re already doing illegally even more illegal?
Another concern has to do with the nation’s ecotourism, which Housty feels bear hunting hurts. (No, but bear poaching does.) B.C. Minister of Forests Steve Thomson disagrees. Thomas told CBCNews that the hunting industry contributes about $350 million to the province annually and is an important part of B.C.’s heritage. He added that over 58 percent of the nation’s lands are already closed to grizzly hunting.
“We believe that the current hunt is sustainable and is managed based on sound science,” said Thomas.
Housty countered, “It goes against our cultural beliefs and values of management of our territories and bears in particular, and because we have an increasing presence on our land with research projects, with our people reconnecting to the land, it doesn’t make sense to have hunters in the same area.”
Hunters, yes. Poachers, no.