Provincial authorities are restricting commercial wild huckleberry harvesting in B.C.'s Kootenay-Boundary region for a third year to protect huckleberry bushes and preserve a critical food supply for grizzly bears. From July 15 to Oct.15, professional pickers will be banned from areas including Summit Creek, Monk Creek, Goat River, Little Moyle, Kid Creek, Iron Creek and Sportsman Ridge. Road signs will be posted near closure areas. The B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development says the areas have been identified as critical foraging zones for grizzly bears and other species. Wild black huckleberries are also of high cultural value to the region's Ktunaxa First Nation.
"Traditionally, the huckleberry harvest was limited to First Nations' sustenance and public household use," the ministry said in a news 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."
First Nations will be able to harvest in the restricted zones, as guaranteed by their constitutional Aboriginal rights. Non-commercial household hand-picking will be limited to 10 litres per person, per season. The use of mechanical pickers and any resale of the berries is prohibited The ministry said restrictions will be revised again next year.