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BC Liberal MLA slams grizzly hunt ban as ‘thin edge of the wedge’

NDP government bans grizzly bear hunt
WATCH: NDP government bans grizzly bear hunt

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.

READ MORE: NDP bans grizzly bear hunt in B.C. effective 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.

“[It’s] nothing more than an appeasement due to the Site C decision,” he said.
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“The trophy hunting aspect had been taken care of, and that was the overriding bigger concern most people had.”

READ MORE: Poll suggests majority of British Columbians support complete ban on grizzly bear hunt

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)

BC Greens says NDP plan to end trophy grizzly hunting isn’t a true ban
BC Greens says NDP plan to end trophy grizzly hunting isn’t a true ban

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.

“I know [Forests Minister Doug] Donaldson says, ‘No, it’s not going to be expanded,’ but we’ve seen similar commentary about deer culls with urban deer populations that are a problem in cities, where they get humanely euthanized,” he said.

“And even that is met with high protest from people. So it’s the thin edge of the wedge.”

READ MORE: Miley Cyrus joins call to close ‘loophole’ on grizzly bear hunt in B.C.

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.

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“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.