FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Back in December of 2017, the B.C. Government put a province-wide ban on grizzly bear hunting.
In December 2018, Ron Fleming, owner of Love Bros. & Lee, had filed a lawsuit seeking compensation for all B.C. guide outfitting businesses allegedly harmed by the hunting ban.
Scott Ellis, Executive Director of the Guide Outfitters Association of B.C., says the hunting ban is more about politics and less about the actual population of grizzlies.
“This is not about the number of grizzly bears, this has nothing to do with science or the need for more science. We have a lot of bears in British Columbia, they’re very healthy. The latest reports have their range expanding and their density is increasing. So it’s really about some politics and we’re, quite frankly, really disappointed that politics get involved in wildlife management.”
Generally, Ellis feels that most people care about wildlife and that the outfitting community has the ability to file a lawsuit for damages.
“I think, generally, most people care about wildlife and, in this particular instance, the outfitting community has the ability to sue for damages, the resident hunting community does not. So if we had a choice, I’m not speaking for Ron, but if we had a choice and if you were to ask him, I would bet my house that he would pick opening the hunt again and proper wildlife management over having to sue the Government for damages.”
According to Ellis, this ban has repercussions on not just the economic side, but also on the lives of other wildlife that are having to deal with the grizzly bear population.
“It has all kinds of repercussions, it’s common knowledge, and there’s a fantastic study out of Alaska if people are aware of that, they really need to look at the mortality on moose calves by grizzly bears. They put GoPros on the chests of grizzly bears and it was pretty amazing. The average was over six weeks or so, a grizzly bear was eating one moose calf a day. You can’t manage the land and you can’t manage the wildlife that lives on that land if you’re picking and choosing which species you’re going to manage and which ones you aren’t. You need to manage all of them and, I think, that’s really what we want.”
The next steps for the lawsuit, according to Ellis, is they will be going forward for a certification where a judge will decide if this lawsuit has legal standing.
“If the judge grants certification, the lawsuit then gains momentum, has a timeline and has a schedule, a time when it goes to court. I guess there will be some process where all the outfitters join or are included in this, that have a grizzly bear quota, that want to be a part of this class action lawsuit. I think that people are rallying together quite strongly in support of Ron and his efforts. I guess we’ll see if the legal system agrees with the case he’s presenting.”