Currently there is no province wide protection for bear dens. While they are protected on Haida Gwaii and in the Great Bear Rainforest, and some protection by logging companies for the vast majority of the province bear den habitat is vulnerable to logging.
The private members bill that I tabled today corrects that, and creates an offence for anyone who disturbs, molests, damages, or destroys a bear den.
The BC NDP government has committed to a paradigm shift in forestry and landscape management. To date, all we have seen is the status quo. By passing this bill they will take a positive step forward and demonstrate they are taking positive action to protect biodiversity in British Columbia.
If you support this policy change, please contact your MLA by phone or email and ask them to advocate for the BC NDP government to support this change.
A. Olsen presented a bill intituled Wildlife Amendment Act (No. 3), 2022.
I move that a bill intituled the Wildlife Amendment Act (No. 3), of which notice has been given in my name on the order paper be introduced and read a first time now.
For over 20 years, experts have been advocating for laws to protect bear dens in British Columbia. The province continues to lack a comprehensive legal protection for bear dens. Despite legislative protections in Haida Gwaii and the Great Bear Rainforest, much of the province continues to lack these mechanisms to protect these essential habitats. As a result, bear dens have been left to a patchwork of policies by logging companies, which are inconsistent and unenforceable.
Earlier this year, the Environmental Law Centre at the University of Victoria and the B.C. Sierra Club published a study recommending provincial legislation that protects bear dens. The act before us today makes these essential changes. It sets out that if a person disturbs, molests, damages or destroys a bear den, they have committed an offence. Further, this protection stands on both Crown and private land, which is an essential component, given the proliferation of private-managed forest lands in pockets of British Columbia.
We are currently living through the sixth mass extinction caused by human activity. It is more important than ever to protect the biodiversity of our province, and this includes protecting bear dens, where bears hibernate, give birth and raise their young.
Members, the first reading of the bill.
I move that this bill be put on the order papers for second reading at the next sitting after today.
Bill M213, Wildlife Amendment Act (No. 3), 2022, introduced, read a first time and ordered to be placed on orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.