Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Open Season on BC Wildlife
Is a government ministry putting foreign interests before British Columbians?
Submitted by Randy MacAhonic, Chwk/Gov't website photo Minister Thomas
was very concerned to see a short segment on the news Saturday night regarding the Liberal government’s latest policy change to give the Guide Outfitters an even larger portion of our wildlife allocation. Commercial Guide Outfitters sell hunting packages to mostly foreign hunters who are often in our province for trophies only. They usually fly in and are picked up at a local airport and put very few dollars into the local economy.
As a hunter who spends quality time camping out and hunting with my son and grandson every fall trying to put healthy organic meat on our table I started looking into this issue.
As I understand it, the BC Wildlife Federation (BCWF) has over 40,000 members with a mandate to look out for the rights of the more than 100,000 resident hunters of BC. The Guide Outfitters Association of BC (GOABC) represents the guide outfitters which number approximately 245 and who charge several thousands of dollars to take mostly foreign hunters out for trophy hunts.
In 2007, after several years of negotiations these two organizations and the Ministry of Environment came to an agreement that most species of wildlife that have a harvestable surplus be allocated 90% to the resident hunters of BC that live here, pay taxes here and have a vested interest in the environment and the sustainability of our wildlife. The other 10% was for the commercial guides to sell to their clients, again mostly foreign hunters for trophies only. A 2012 study conducted for the British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations shows that BC resident hunters spend over 229 million dollars a year locally in BC on hunting activities and related expenses.
The latest news is that Minister Thompson has unilaterally decided to give 25% of some species of our wildlife allotment to the Guide Outfitters to sell, leaving only 75% for resident hunters such as my family.
Even worse and of greater concern, is that other species such as Sheep and Grizzly bears are to be allocated 60% resident hunters and 40% Guide Outfitters and that wild sheep in the Kootenay region are to be taken off quota and put into a general open season allowing the guide outfitters to sell as many hunts as they wish. Former government biologists and managers from the Ministry of Environment have expressed serious concern that this could lead to the decimation of entire herds . I have not hunted sheep myself but thought I might have the opportunity before I die. With this latest decision it looks like that might remain an unfulfilled dream.
Most of the area that my family and I wish to hunt for moose is under Limited Entry Hunting . That means that every year we have to enter into a lottery and be successful in that draw for the right to hunt a bull moose. We won a draw in 2007 and again 2010 but never prior nor since despite putting entries in every year. This latest allocation decision will reduce our odds of winning a draw even more.
Nowhere else in North America is so much of the public resource allocated to a few commercial interests. 90/10 is generally the most generous allotment and our neighbors to the south, Washington and Oregon, only allow 5% to be sold to non residents. I also understand that the government has changed the ownership requirements for commercial operations last year. Prior to this only BC residents were allowed to own a guiding territory. Now they are open to foreign ownership so that any profits they generate do not necessarily benefit the economy of BC. It would seem that our current leaders truly are selling off all of BC without regard to our children and grandchildren’s future. Nowhere else in North America is so much of the public resource allocated to a few commercial interests.
I cannot understand why a couple of hundred guide outfitters should take precedence over the rights of most British Columbians. I am requesting that the 2007 decision that was made be honored and reinstated immediately. BC residents deserve to have access to put food on our tables and that future generations are not put second behind commercial, foreign interests.
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