Response to Grizzly Bear Hunting Moratorium



Response to Grizzly Bear Hunting Moratorium

by Saxon Ritchie

The Yukon Fish and Game Association (YFGA) (the Association) has been at the forefront of conservation in the Yukon for 75 years. The call for a moratorium on grizzly hunting by a small, newly formed special interest group is of grave concern to the Association, our members, and other stakeholder groups. Members of the YFGA feel strongly that population surveys as well as local and traditional knowledge are key components of modern, effective wildlife management practices. Drastic change to the way populations of species in the Yukon are managed, without any supporting evidence for those changes, is something that we cannot support. We remain absolutely convinced that to maintain healthy wildlife populations, management approaches must be transparent, non­-political and based on sound un-biased scientific information.

The Association is dedicated to ensuring Yukon game species are accessible and continue to offer harvest opportunities for future generations. Harvesting of mature boars in spring is recognized as a conservation management tool to preserve and or enhance not only ungulate populations but also grizzly and black bear populations. Harvesting within sustainability limits can help to protect natural food sources for those Yukoners who choose to harvest wild game.  Hunting of bears is deeply rooted in northern cultures.

We are very fortunate to have a recently developed Grizzly Bear Management  Plan for the Yukon. The Plan was developed in collaboratively, with significant contributions from the scientific community, interested groups and the public.

The Yukon Fish and Game Association was part of the working group that contributed to the development of the plan for grizzly management  and conservation. “The vision of the grizzly bear management and conservation plan is to ensure that there remain healthy and viable grizzly bear populations throughout their natural range in Yukon, for future generations of people and bears.” The plan includes harvest opportunities for licensed hunters and First  Nations.

The Yukon Fish and Game Association recognises that in specific locations within the Yukon Territory there may be concern with bear populations due to the proximity to more densely populated areas. There are conservation methods embedded in the plan which are designed ensure populations can continue to thrive in these instances.

We are aware there is a perception that the number of grizzly bear tags sold in Yukon is an indicator of significant pressure on the grizzly bear population. This perception is not supported by the facts. We know from harvest data that the actual harvest number for grizzly bear is well within the sustainable harvest range as outlined in the bear management plan. In communicating with hunters and non-hunters who purchase these tags, it is apparent that in most instances, tags are purchased to be used only if necessary for defence of life or property.

Since 1945, The Yukon Fish and Game Association has been a champion  for species conservation and the enduring availability of hunting and fishing opportunities  for all Yukoners. We will continue to do so!

Bryce Bekar

Vice President, YFGA