Canada province to end grizzly bear trophy hunt

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Grizzly bear cub named Juneau stands during her first day out in the public at the Palm Beach Zoo on December 17, 2015 in West Palm Beach, Florida.Image source, Getty Images

A Canadian province is banning the contentious practice of hunting grizzly bears for sport.

British Columbia's new NDP government has announced that this season will be the last for trophy hunters.

Hunting grizzlies for meat will still be permitted in all parts of the province except in one rainforest.

The Great Bear Rainforest will have no hunting of any kind, at the request of indigenous groups. About 250 grizzlies are killed each year for meat or sport.

The government had promised to end the hunt during the last election, citing changing public opinion. A poll found that about 90% of British Columbians oppose the trophy hunt.

"By bringing trophy hunting of grizzlies to an end, we're delivering on our commitment to British Columbians," said forestry minister Doug Donaldson in a release.

The ministry estimated that there are about 15,000 grizzlies in the province.

The previous Liberal government had reinstated trophy hunting 16 years ago, prompting an outcry from conservation groups.

The NDP's decision to end the ban is popular with groups that lead bear viewing tours, but unpopular with hunting guides.

"We are not going to be very supportive. We're very worried about the ripple effect it will have on small businesses in rural British Columbia," said the executive director of the Guide Outfitters Association of British Columbia, Scott Ellis.

In 2014, the Center for Responsible Travel published an economic analysis that found that bear viewing in the Great Bear Rainforest generated 12 times more tourism dollars than bear hunting.