“Actually it’s kind of disturbing to me,” MLA Tom Shypitka told the Townsman. “I think we saw it coming but it’s a disturbing fact that the NDP are continuing to promote the division between rural and urban voters. It’s actually quite hypocritical and it’s a weak attempt in my opinion to appease environmentalists and their party platform as well as quite honestly the Green Party.”
Shypitka weighed in on the NDP’s recent move to ban the trophy hunting of grizzly bears in BC after this year’s hunt, comparing it to watching a train-wreck in slow motion.
“You know it’s coming but you don’t really know the damage that’s going to happen once the collision hits,” he said.
“We’re talking about a couple hundred grizzlies a year,” Shypitka said. That’s not threatening the bear populations, what’s threatening the bear populations is habitat. and that’s a discussion we need to be addressing more than trying to appease and trying to get votes.”
Shypitka explained that he feels as though this has been made into a political issue when it shouldn’t be, and that the issue should be based solely on conservationism.
“What we need first and foremost is funding, so we need science-based data which comes from money,” he said, referring to what he feels ought to be done in order to approach the subject of wildlife conversation in BC, including grizzly populations. Shypitka said that he’s currently working on getting designated funding to get data in order to know what truly threatens grizzly populations, without “pointing fingers.”
“We need local representation,” he said. “We need people on the ground in our areas to actually give input so I want input from First Nations, trappers, guide-outfitters, resident hunters — the whole gamut, ranchers, let’s not forget about the ranchers. They’ve got a lot at stake in this as well, they’re losing their cattle to these predators.”
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Shypitka referred to a recent study iconducted in Alaska that monitored bears over a 45 day period with collar-mounted cameras that discovered that the average bear was killing 34.4 moose or caribou calfs in that period.
“When those moose and elk are calving, [bears] are there, they can smell the blood and they’re on them in a second and these populations don’t have a chance to recover,” he said. “So what we say is use the tool, use the tool of the hunt to develop our populations that we’re lacking in our ungulates and to leave the partisanship aside.”
Shypitka said that the NDP’s decision to ban trophy hunting but allow meat hunting is hypocritical.
“They didn’t want to leave the meat behind because we’re not utilizing the carcass,” he said explaining that when you take just the meat of the animal, you’re leaving about 70 per cent of it behind.
“For hunters that like to utilize the meat … and I mean Indigenous people and Aboriginal people have been utilizing the carcass for thousands of years, and yet when it comes to resident hunters or non-aboriginal people, somehow that’s a double standard and we’re not allowed to do the same thing so it really is hypocritical that they would take this view.”
Shypitka said, referring to his previous statement that the decision was primarily based on appeasing urban voters, that the ruling is uninformed and made by people who don’t experience bear populations.
“Taking out a few mature males by hunting groups is a great tool that we have in place right now,” he said. “To take out a few grizzlies to support local businesses as a management tool to me is the best option we have and essentially with this ban now it’s taking those options away and therefore our ungulate population and our safety is being threatened because of it.”