A BC Liberal MLA is slamming the NDP government over its plans to ban grizzly bear hunting in the province.
On Monday, the New Democrats announced that all grizzly hunting, save for traditional First Nations hunts, would be stopped immediately.
The move followed a previous NDP move to ban trophy hunting of the bears, and came in the wake of a poll that found 78 per cent of British Columbians opposed any grizzly hunting.
LISTEN: BC Liberal MLA slams NDP grizzly hunt ban
Speaking on CKNW’s The Simi Sara Show, Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Peter Milobar called the decision a cynical political calculation.
“The trophy hunting aspect had been taken care of, and that was the overriding bigger concern most people had.”
A report by B.C.’s auditor general in October found about 15,000 grizzlies currently live in the province, and the greatest threat to the population is habitat loss, not hunting.
The Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations estimates that about 250 grizzlies are killed each year.
WATCH: BC Greens says NDP plan to end trophy grizzly hunting isn’t a true ban (Aug., 2017)
Milobar said the science supports a sustainable grizzly hunt, and that the NDP has alienated the commercial hunting industry, which is already hurting after a year of record wildfires.
The move is also making hunters nervous about other species, he said.
“And even that is met with high protest from people. So it’s the thin edge of the wedge.”
Milobar also questioned the findings of the poll that showed widespread opposition to the hunt, saying respondents may have been confused between meat hunting and trophy hunting.
“If that’s how we’re going to start making wildlife conservation policy in this province, I don’t think we need a minister of environment anymore, we need an online polling company.”
Milobar said if the NDP was serious about conservation, it would be unveiling a comprehensive plan that included wider policies around species at risk and support for conservation officers.
According to statistics from the Society of B.C. Conservation Officers, between 2001 and 2012 under the BC Liberal government, the number of conservation officers in the province dropped from 132 to 90.