By Lance Stapleton, Senior Western Correspondent
There is a promising long-term solution to the British Columbia bear hunting conflict that I reported on last month. A new association of BC outfitters, called the Coastal British Columbia Guide Outfitters Association
(CBCGOA), has been actively working with other stakeholders in this conflict for the last several years. Most importantly, they are achieving common ground with the First Nations and wildlife officials while preserving hunting opportunity, not eliminating it
! Equally important, their strategy may provide a model for dealing with these types of hunting challenges, which are likely to happen ever more often in the future.
In this instance, several First Nations bands were protesting bear hunting, threatening to shut down bear hunting entirely. The crux is that some bands believe hunting is endangering what they call the "Spirit Bear," white- and blue-phased black bears; however, their concerns are not just limited to black bears, but also include grizzly bears. Furthermore, they maintain that hunting adversely affects their eco-tourism enterprises, specifically bear watching. Certainly, it is not pleasant (or positive for our hunting image) when tourists watching wildlife see a bloated, skinned bear carcass on the beach. These issues have escalated to the point that natives claim that if hunting is not stopped, they will stop it, and have threatened confrontations. However, there are legal issues with that, because hunting regulations and guide area management are the responsibility of the BC wildlife officials......