Bear population can support hunt,says Victoria

  • Aug. 4, 2003 7:00 a.m.

Bear hunting season opens September 1 on the islands, and bear regulations remain the same as last year.
Hunters cannot harvest bears under 2 years old or in a family group, says Tom Smith, wildlife officer with the Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection. They must recover the edible portions of the forequarters and loins. And hunters cannot be in possession of the bear’s gallbladder or genitalia, which are valued in the Asian market. The BC government doesn’t allow the export or import of any bear parts except hides.
The province believes the islands bear population is healthy, although they have not done a census because it’s a very time consuming and costly process that doesn’t always produce very exact results, says Mr. Smith. Instead of doing a census, the ministry compares habitat with known bear populations to similar habitat with unknown populations and makes an estimate of the likely number of bears in an area.
At present, Mr. Smith estimates the islands bear harvest is about one percent of the total population, well below the level where the government would consider restricting hunting.
“There’s enough bears on the islands that we don’t believe it’s having an effect on the population,” says Mr. Smith.
The season runs from Sept. 1 to Nov. 30, and April 1 to June 30, with a bag limit of 2.