The Province of B.C. has announced the prohibition of commercial huckleberry harvesting in areas of the Kootenays from July 15 to Oct. 15. (Photo from Kimberley Bulletin)

Commercial huckleberry harvest banned in certain Kootenay areas

The areas have been identified as critical foraging zones for grizzlies and other wildlife species

Huckleberry picking – a mainstay family outing for many in Greater Trail – is now protected from commercial harvesting near Monk Creek just outside of Salmo.

Maps identifying the closed areas can be viewed here: map

A photo circulated on social media last summer that showed the shocking scene of large-scale operations set up in that vicinity – which is an area historically used by locals with buckets in hand.

Seeing rack upon rack of a professional picking operation drew much ire locally. Wildsight, however, was the first entity to publicly state distress over commercial harvesting of B.C.’s wild huckleberries.

At that time, there was no regulation governing commercial harvesting in general, and Wildsight stated that thousands of pounds of huckleberries were crossing the border each day, most from an area near Yahk.

Whether it began with that photo, by Wildsight or by another means, the good news is that this harmful practice is being stopped.

The province announced Wednesday that large-scale harvesting restrictions are in effect from July 15 to Oct 15 in some areas of the Kootenay Boundary region including Monk Creek as well as areas east such as Little Moyie, Kid Creek and Sportsman Creek/Upper Flathead River.

The move is to protect grizzly bear habitat, the ministry stated.

“These areas have been identified as critical foraging zones for grizzly bears and other wildlife species.” the release read. “These areas are of high traditional value to First Nations. Traditionally, the huckleberry harvest was limited to First Nations sustenance and household use. The recent increase in commercial-scale huckleberry harvesting in the Kootenays has resulted in conflicts with grizzly bear foraging areas and damaged habitat, particularly where mechanical harvesting devices are used.”

The criteria defining commercial-scale harvesting includes: the harvest or possession of huckleberries exceeding 10 litres per person, per season; use of mechanical pickers, or any device other than hand-picking; and/or harvest of any amount of huckleberries for the purpose of resale.

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