KLEMTU, B.C. - A coalition of 10 First Nations on B.C.'s north and central coast says years of urging the government to ban trophy bear hunting in its territory hasn't worked so now it has declared its own moratorium.
But the provincial government showed no indication Wednesday that it was willing to go along with a ban that contributes millions to the B.C. economy.
First Nations coalition spokesman William Housty admitted that enforcing the ban won't be easy without the province making trophy hunting illegal.
"That's an issue that we're facing — how we're going to be able to deal with that without the province supporting us," said Housty of the Heiltsuk First Nation.
He said the First Nations don't have the authority to impose a ban, and that hunters and poachers who leave bear carcasses lying around have ignored signs urging them to stop the practice.
"That's really a problem. We can't walk up to these hunters and say, `You can't hunt here.' We can't write a ticket."
Housty said trophy hunting threatens the First Nations' lucrative ecotourism opportunities, but the province has ignored such concerns.
"Because we have not ceded any of this land to anybody, we feel that we have a voice and should have a voice in how these lands are managed and this includes the bear hunt."
But Steve Thomson, minister of forests, lands and natural resource operations, said he was disappointed by the announcement, saying the government has always been open to talks with First Nations.
"We also know that as the hunt gets under way at this time of the year, this is when many of the concerns about the hunt come forward," he said. "Disappointed but not totally surprised in a sense."
Thomson said hunting industry contributes about $350 million to the province annually and is an important part of the economy and the B.C.'s heritage.
More than 58 per cent of the traditional territory of the coastal First Nations is closed to grizzly bear hunting he added, noting the government has also put in place eco-system based management.
"We believe that the current hunt is sustainable and is managed based on sound science."
When asked if the provincial government sees a difference between trophy hunting and hunting for food purposes, Thomson said, "that's part of what we need to engage First Nations on."
Housty said coastal First Nations are working on marine- and land-use plans to manage resources in their territory and are also considering the salmon run and how it affects birds, bears and the evolving ecosystem.
"It goes against our cultural beliefs and values of management of our territories and bears in particular, and because we have an increasing presence on our land with research projects, with our people reconnecting to the land, it doesn't make sense to have hunters in the same area."
Guides are making money selling hunting tags, and pressure from them may be one reason why successive governments have failed to take the First Nations' concerns seriously, Housty said.
Related on HuffPost:
Kamchatka bear twins named Cuba and Toby, with their mother Kamcatka play in the outdoor enclosure at Brno Zoo for the first time on May 31, 2012. The Kamchatka bear is the largest subspecies of brown bear, weighing up to 1000 kg. RADEK MICA/AFP/GettyImages
Kamchatka bear Kamcatka, mother of twin bear cubs, plays in the outdoor enclosure at Brno Zoo for the first time on May 31, 2012. The Kamchatka bear is the largest subspecies of brown bear, weighing up to 1000 kg. RADEK MICA/AFP/GettyImages
Polar bear Anori lays in the sun on May 30, 2012 at the zoo in Wuppertal, western Germany. Anori was born January 4, 2012 at the zoo in Wuppertal and is a half-sister of world famous polar bear Knut, who died in 2011. FEDERICO GAMBARINI/AFP/GettyImages
A black bear is seen in the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. KAREN BLEIER/AFP/GettyImages
Two Giant Pandas at an enclosure before they are taken back to the wild, at the Wolong National Nature Reserve in Wolong, southwest China's Sichaun province on May 3, 2012. The bears will be left to fend for themselves to learn crucial survival skills, and scientists plan to gradually reduce human interactions until they can live in the wild without any assistance, and while there have already been 10 attempts at setting pandas free over the past 30 years, and only two are thought to have been successful as the bears find it very hard to survive on their own. STR/AFP/GettyImages
A mother polar bear plays with one of her three cubs born in last November, at the Moscow Zoo, on March 22, 2012. ANDREY SMIRNOV/AFP/Getty Images
KINGUSSIE, SCOTLAND - APRIL 09: Walker (L) the polar bear meets with new male companion Arktos at the Highland Wildlife Park on April 9, 2012 in Kingussie, Scotland. Arktos arrived from Hannover Zoo in Germany on April 4 to be a companion to the Park's resident polar bear Walker. A year older than Walker and slightly larger, Arktos is four-years-old and it's hoped that the bears will establish a relationship of friendly competitiveness. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
QUANZHOU, CHINA - FEBRUARY 24: (CHINA OUT) Bears stand by a wall at a bear farm of Guizhentang Pharmaceutical Co Ltd on February 24, 2012 in Quanzhou, Fujian Province of China. The Guizhentang Pharmaceutical Co Ltd, which makes medicine using bile extracted from live bears, opened one of its bear farms to the media on Wednesday, to quell growing criticism. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)
A bear is seen at one of the traditional Chinese medicine company Guizhentang's controversial bear bile farms in Hui'an, southeast China's Fujian province on February 22, 2012. Bear bile has long been used in China to treat various health problems, despite skepticism over its effectiveness and outrage over the bile extraction process, which animal rights group say is excruciatingly painful for bears. STR/AFP/Getty Images
This photo taken on January 17, 2012 shows a zoo keeper attending to a new-born polar bear cub at the Ocean Aquarium of Penglai, in Yantai, in east China's Shandong province. This female cub was delivered by five-year-old polar bear 'Pengpeng' on January 1 weighing 640 grams, as the first polar bear born in the aquarium. STR/AFP/Getty Images
A spectacled bear (tremarctos ornatus), born in captivity four months ago, is seen at the zoo in Cali, Valle del Cauca department, Colombia, on January 11, 2012. LUIS ROBAYO/AFP/Getty Images
A pair of Brown bears play fight December 21, 2011 at the Bronx Zoo in New York. DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images
KINGUSSIE, SCOTLAND - DECEMBER 07: Walker the polar bear plays with a hard hat on his third birthday at the Highland Wildlife Park on December 7, 2011 in Kingussie, Scotland. Walker was born in Rhenen Zoo in Holland on 7th December 2008. He came to live at the Highland Wildlife Park after his aunt, Freedom, became pregnant and needed to retire to her cubbing den, his mother was also due to come on heat and be reintroduced back to the Zoo's adult male, Walker's dad. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - DECEMBER 16: Tian Tian the female panda bear looks out from her enclosure as members of the public view her for the first time at Edinburgh Zoo on December 16, 2011 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The eight-year-old pair of giant pandas arrived on a specially chartered flight from China over a week ago and are the first to live in the UK for 17 years. Edinburgh zoo are hopeful that the pandas will give birth to cubs during their 10 year stay in Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Polar bears play in the water of Blijdorp Zoo in Rotterdam, Netherlands on September 30, 2011. The weather forecast for the weekend to come promises plenty of sunshine and temperatures around 25 degrees. ROBERT VOS/AFP/Getty Images
KEENESBURG, CO - OCTOBER 20: A grizzly bear waits to be fed at The Wild Animal Sanctuary on October 20, 2011 in Keenesburg, Colorado. The non-profit sanctuary is a 720-acre refuge for large carnivores that have been confiscated from illegal or abusive situations and is currently home to over 290 lions, tigers, bears, wolves and other large carnivores. It is the oldest and largest carnivore sanctuary in the United States, having been in operation since 1980. On Tuesday the owner of a Zanesville, Ohio private animal reserve set loose 56 animals, of which 49 were hunted down and killed by law enforcement and six others were tranquilized and are being treated at the Columbus Zoo. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
A bear is seen in the Kuwait Zoo in the heart of the capital on September 4, 2011. YASSER AL-ZAYYAT/AFP/Getty Images
Polar bear shakes off water in his enclosure at the zoo on July 26, 2011 in Prague. MICHAL CIZEK/AFP/Getty Images)
A brown bear rests at the Safari park in Fasano, in the Apulia region, on August 4, 2011. GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images
A three month old bear cub who was born at the zoo in Stavropol takes a walk on May 5, 2011. DANIL SEMYONOV/AFP/Getty Images
Newborn Polar Bear Cubs
Newborn Polar Bear Cubs. A set of newborn polar bear twins make their public debut.
Anuri The Baby Polar Bear
Meet Germany's latest animal superstar - Anuri the polar bear.