Canada's British Columbia province bans grizzly bear hunting

A grizzly bear stands up at St-Felicien Wildlife Zoo in St-Felicien, Quebec September 24, 2008. REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - British Columbia on Monday banned all grizzly bear hunting in the western Canadian province with immediate effect, expanding on its existing ban on trophy hunting.

In August, the provincial government had said it would end trophy hunting of the bears but allow hunting for meat.

Consultations with First Nations, other stakeholder groups and the public in recent months showed that “it is abundantly clear that the grizzly hunt is not in line with their values,” said Doug Donaldson, the province’s minister of forests and lands, in a statement on Monday.

There are an estimated 15,000 grizzly bears in British Columbia. Each year, around 250 are taken by hunters.

First Nations would still be able to hunt grizzlies in accordance with Aboriginal rights for food, social, or ceremonial purposes, or treaty rights, the government said.

The left-leaning New Democratic government, propped up by the Green Party, took office in British Columbia in July after ousting the Liberals who had ruled the province for 16 years.

Reporting by Nicole Mordant in Vancouver, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien