Huckleberry harvesting restricted to protect grizzly habitat
The provincial government announced today (July 12) that it is restricting commercial-scale huckleberry harvesting to protect grizzly bear habitat in the Kootenays, including areas around Fernie, Cranbrook and Creston.
These areas have been identified as critical foraging zones for grizzly bear and other wildlife species. They are also of high traditional value to First Nations.
Traditionally, the huckleberry harvest was limited to First Nations’ sustenance and public 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:
- 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.
Individuals picking huckleberries according to an Aboriginal right recognized and affirmed by Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 may continue to access Crown land. The identified closure areas also remain open to household picking (harvest not exceeding 10 litres per person per season).
This is the second consecutive season closed areas to commercial-scale harvest have been in effect. Minor changes have been made this year to reflect updated scientific information indicating berry patches being highly used by bears that were not included in last year’s closures.
People are asked to look for road signs identifying the closure areas. The areas will be reviewed again prior to next year.