Some readers might remember Maggie Warren. She was from the Rapid City area, and she was obsessed with preventing our proposed mourning dove season. She went so far as to circulate a petition, collect the necessary signatures and get the mourning dove issue on the fall ballot. Fortunately we have a dove season today, and while I question Ms. Warren’s thinking, I don’t question that Maggie was a good person.
Today hunter numbers are dwindling. In South Dakota, we have more non-resident pheasant hunters than resident pheasant hunters. If the present decline in hunter numbers continues, what would happen if another Maggie Warren chose to put our right to hunt on the ballot? Would our hunting tradition become a thing of the past?
We hunters are in the minority right now. We must recruit new members into our hunting ranks. We must support 4-H shooting activities and Friends of NRA. We must make ranges available in every community. We must encourage the formation of trap teams within our high schools. We must stick together regardless of our hunting/shooting interests, and we must positively impress our fellow non-hunting citizens with our sportsmanship, ethics and conservation practices.
Am I overreacting? Let’s take a look at what happened recently in British Columbia. I have hunted and fished in British Columbia. It is one of the most beautiful areas in the world, and the culture appeared to be very pro-hunting. This is what makes their recent legislation so bizarre to me.
A campaign promise by the New Democratic Party (NDP) promised to bring the trophy hunting of grizzly bears to an end in British Columbia. When the NDP came back into power in the May 2017 election, they proceeded to move forward with their promise. To quote a press release, “By bringing trophy hunting of grizzlies to an end, we’re delivering on our commitment to British Columbians.”
Before passing judgement, we need to know if the BC grizzlies needed protection. BC has an estimated 15,000 grizzly bears. About 250 grizzlies are killed by hunters every year. That’s a 1.6 percent harvest of the population. According to the Guide Outfitters Association of British Columbia (GOABC), a 10 percent harvest would leave a sustainable population. As I see it, this issue obviously has nothing to do with the wellbeing of grizzly bears. It’s all about politics.
In the fall of 2016, I hunted moose in British Columbia. The grizzly population was very healthy, and my primary job while we butchered my moose in the field was to man my rifle and keep my eyes peeled for grizzly bears seeking an easy lunch buffet. My guide was “dead serious” about this.
Here’s how the new regulation press release reads as released by the Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. Quoting Vol. 37 No. 9 of The Hunting Report, “Meat hunting for grizzlies will be allowed to continue. New regulations will require hunters to pack out all the meat but leave hides, skulls and paws behind.”
This new regulation will end the hunting of BC grizzly bears. For all practical purposes, grizzly meat is borderline edible. On what do I draw this conclusion? Alaska regulations demand that all edible meat of a game animal is packed out before hides, antlers, etc. are packed out. Alaska hunters legally leave a grizzly bear carcass to the wolves and other bears so long as it was not taken over bait. If the Alaska Department of Fish & Game deems grizzly meat inedible, it is inedible.
Why did the NDP make grizzly hunting a part of its platform? They wanted to win votes in urban BC where many city dwellers believe the bears should be left to themselves. What can we learn from this British Columbia fiasco? Wildlife management by ballot box is a potentially dangerous trend that could have negative effects on all wildlife populations as well as recreational hunting. There is more to it in our USA. The anti-gun people would jump at the chance to shutdown hunting, and they would readily use the ballot box to do it.
Does British Columbia need a grizzly bear season? Yes it does. A hunting season will give the bears at least a minimal respect for man. With no fear of man in the future, man becomes easy prey. I’ll try to keep up with this issue as it unfolds. For now, British Columbia grizzly hunting became history on Nov. 30, 2017.
While it is wasteful, I’ve seen pheasant legs and thighs discarded from time to time as they are full of wire tough tendons. Last Monday, I took a limit of ringneck roosters and completely deboned all the meat — leg quarters included. Betsy fried up a bird in mushroom soup and served it over potatoes. While the leg meat was dark and tougher than breast, it was still excellent.