The province of B.C. is once again restricting commercial-scale huckleberry harvesting in an effort to protect grizzly bear habitat in the Kootenay Boundary region.
The province is working together with the Ktunaxa Nation Council to conserve wild huckleberry, which is an important source of food for grizzly bears.
From July 15 to October 15, 2020, commercial-scale picking of huckleberries is prohibited in some areas of the region including Monk Creek, Summit Creek, Little Moyie, Goat River, Kid Creek, Iron Creek/Sand Creek, and Sportsman Ridge/Upper Flathead River.
This is the third year in a row that the province has closed areas to commercial-scale harvesting. The areas will be reviewed again prior to next year.
According to a press release from the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, these specific areas have been identified as critical foraging zones for grizzly bear and other wildlife species. They are also of high cultural value to the Ktunaxa Nation and other First Nations.
“Traditionally, the huckleberry harvest was limited to First Nations’ sustenance and public household use,” says the government release. “The recent increase in commercial-scale huckleberry harvesting in the Kootenays has resulted in conflicts with grizzly bear foraging areas and damaged habitat, particularly when mechanical harvesting devices are used. Use of mechanical harvesting devices is discouraged throughout the Kootenay Boundary as a best practice.”
Commercial-scale harvesting includes harvesting or possessing huckleberries exceeding 10 litres per person, per season, the use of mechanical pickers or any device other than hand picking, and harvesting any amount of huckleberries for the purpose of resale.
The only exception is for people picking huckleberries in continuance of an Aboriginal right recognized and affirmed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. They may continue to access the closed areas.
Household picking is still allowed within the region, including the areas closed to commercial harvesting.
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