VICTORIA, B.C- Grizzly bears will no longer be hunted in British Columbia.

The provincial government has announced an end to the grizzly bear hunt. The 2018 hunting season had been scheduled to start on April 1, 2018, but the ban will now take effect immediately for both residents and non-residents of the province.

“Through consultations this past fall, we have listened to what British Columbians have to say on this issue and it is abundantly clear that the grizzly hunt is not in line with their values,” said Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, in a government news release.

“Our government continues to support hunting in this province and recognizes our hunting heritage is of great importance to many British Columbians.”

Prior to today’s announcement, the province had banned all trophy hunting of grizzly bears in August, as well as all hunting of grizzlies in the Great Bear Rainforest. At the same time, they had announced a consultation process on regulations for a sustenance hunt.

“Through the consultation process with First Nations, stakeholder groups and the public, 78% of respondents recommended the hunt be stopped entirely,” read the news release, issued today.

“First Nations will still be able to harvest grizzly bears pursuant to Aboriginal rights for food, social, or ceremonial purposes, or treaty rights.”

The government estimates a total population of 15,000 grizzlies in British Columbia.