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Posted: July 14, 2020

Huckleberry harvesting restricted to protect grizzly habitat

The provincial government and the Ktunaxa Nation Council have been working together to conserve wild huckleberry and important grizzly bear habitat.

As a result, the province is restricting commercial-scale huckleberry harvesting to protect grizzly bear habitat in the Kootenay Boundary region.

From July 15 to Oct. 15, commercial-scale picking of huckleberries is prohibited in some areas of the region.

See maps identifying the closed areas online.

These 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. 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.

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.

People picking huckleberries in continuance of an Aboriginal right recognized and affirmed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, may continue to access the closed areas.

The identified closure areas also remain open to household picking (defined as harvest that does not include any of the criteria above defining commercial-scale use).

This is the third season closed areas to commercial-scale harvest have been in effect. People are asked to look for road signs identifying the closure areas.

The areas will be reviewed again prior to next year.

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