Last Sunday, a woman in a remote cabin in northern British Columbia, Canada called for emergency services when a grizzly bear tore through her front door. Except, the nearest conservation officers were hours away from her location. Nearby, residents of Iskut were ordered to stay indoors as Tahltan Central Government wildlife officers hunted the aggressive bear.
The woman managed to escape her home, leaving the bear inside. The animal ransacked her freezer and belongings and damaged her car. Halloween activities in the area were canceled. A Tahltan wildlife officer and his son hunted the nearly 500-pound grizzly. They eventually caught it in a leg trap before fatally shooting it.
Chad Day, president of the TCG, stressed that this harrowing situation makes it clear that there needs to be a stewardship and wildlife management program spearheaded by the Tahltan Nation.
“This is an issue that Tahltan are starting to take into our own hands, and we want to encourage a lot of other Indigenous people to do the same thing,” said Day in a statement. In 2017, the provincial government was lauded by environmentalists for its ban on grizzly hunting. This is according to a report from the Globe and Mail. But, Day says the approach to wildlife management is flawed.
According to Day, Indigenous communities are losing their food sources. Poor predator management has left their land devoid of caribou, moose, and deer, among other food sources. Additionally, human and grizzly bear incidents are increasing.
“We want to help educate British Columbians – particularly in Vancouver and Victoria – who celebrated the grizzly bear hunting ban,” explained Day. “We want them to understand that it’s a very, very different relationship between people that live in northern isolated communities and predators than it is for people that only encounter predators on TV or in the zoo.”
Woman Narrowly Escapes Grizzly Bear Encounter, Indigenous Leaders Claim There Needs To Be Better Wildlife Management
According to Day, they harvested the bear in traditional practices. Officials took the pelt to the school in Iskut as an education tool. Additionally, the bear fat is being rendered by an elder.
“It’s not trophy hunting,” Day explained. “For thousands of years, before others showed up in our homelands, our people practised predator management with wolves and with bears for a reason. Because they always understood that we are competing for limited resources.” He called the current protection of predators and the subsequent hunting of dwindloing caribou populations “a recipe for disaster.”
A Ministry of Environment spokesperson said that officials received a call about an aggressive grizzly on Sunday. But, they were not able to respond. On Tuesday, the department was informed that the grizzly had been dealt with. According to the Globe and Mail, the TCG and the Ministry of Environment had entered into an agreement weeks before the incident. It would implement a “new regime” that would work to preserve Tahltan culture and wildlife.