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Wildlife Allocation

Wildlife Allocation Committee Chair:

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December 7, 2016

BC NDP on Grizzly Bear Trophy Hunt Ban

 
The BC New Democrats recently released their position on the British Columbia Grizzly Bear hunt; a number of questions arose from our membership regarding that release.  
 
Here are the BC New Democrat Party’s answers to questions about the details of their proposed ban submitted by the BCWF to John Horgan, Leader, New Democrat Official Opposition. 
 
 
QUESTION: Under the new proposed policy would residents of B.C. have opportunity under the LEH system to continue to harvest Grizzly bears? 
 
• Yes. This is not about being opposed to hunting. This is about being opposed to the grizzly bear trophy hunt and only the grizzly bear trophy hunt. 
 
• B.C. hunters will continue to have the opportunity under the LEH system to harvest grizzly bear utilizing the entire bear. We will ensure we use science-based decisions to determine the numbers of LEH tags allowed in various areas. If there aren't enough bears there won’t be a hunt and vice versa. 
 
 
QUESTION: Under the new proposed policy would non-residents of B.C. continue to have opportunity to harvest Grizzly bears? 
 
• Yes. We are not proposing changes to any hunting regulations except as they relate to the grizzly bear trophy hunt. 
 
• That said, the 2015 changes to allocations for resident/non-resident by the liberal government were wrong. We stood with hunters in 2015 when the government took away hunting rights from British Columbians to give more to foreign hunters. Resident hunters make a significant contribution to B.C.’s rural economy and way of life, hunting to feed their families with B.C. game and contribute to wildlife conservation activities. 
 
 
BCWF: Under the new proposed policy would the NDP commit to manage the Grizzly bear harvest using the best available science? 
 
• Yes. The government has been cutting boots on the ground and scientific research on wildlife for 15 years, so there’s considerable dispute about the actual animal population numbers. We agree with the BC Wildlife Federation who point out that a failure to adequately fund biodiversity conservation is one of the biggest challenges B.C. faces. 
 
• We need funding for research into grizzly bear and other animal populations. Ministry staff needs stable and ongoing research funding to know if their population numbers are reliable. These concerns are reflected in the recent review of the grizzly bear management system released by MoF and FLNRO: 
 
• Resources dedicated to grizzly bear harvest management are inadequate. Additional funding to improve population inventory, monitoring, data handling, and analysis is needed. 
 
• Resources should be provided in a predictable manner to facilitate management needs and research requirements. 
 
• The NDP tabled a bill last spring, the Sustainable Wildlife Management Act, to provide new and alternative funding, give wildlife and habitat a priority, and engage all hunting and wildlife groups to work collaboratively toward short and long term plans for fisheries, wildlife and habitat. The government rejected our bill. 
 

Wildlife Allocation Petition Collects 16,139 Signatures: Thank You for Supporting B.C's Resident Hunters!

The BCWF Wildlife Allocation Petition came to a close on Thursday, February 26th, after gathering the signatures of 16,139 hunters and citizens from across British Columbia concerned about B.C.'s new Wildlife Allocation Policy.
 
Thank you to everyone that added their name to the list and signed in support of resident hunters in B.C., and a special thanks to those that shared and spread word about the petition.

The petition will be presented to the Government of B.C. in the Legislature by MLA Dr. Andrew Weaver on Monday, March 2nd, after Question Period at around 2:30 pm. BCWF representatives will be on hand and will be available to take questions from the media afterwards.

Province of B.C. Makes Revisions to Wildlife Allocation Policy
 
Minister of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson announced revisions to B.C.'s new Wildlife Allocation Policy, which was announced on December 10th, 20`4 - Harvest allocations ensure certainty for hunting sector.

BCWF issued a news release in response to these revisions:

"SURREY, B.C. - George Wilson, President of the B.C. Wildlife Federation (BCWF), today said he’s disappointed the government did not rescind the December 2014 amendments to the Wildlife Allocation Policy and revert back to wildlife allocation splits agreed to by B.C. resident hunters and guide outfitters in the 2007 policy. However, he commended the B.C. government for listening to the concerns of resident hunters and modifying the Wildlife Allocation Policy

“Today’s amendments to the Wildlife Allocation Policy do not  go far enough in providing an equitable balance between the rights of B.C. resident hunters to access wild game and the business needs of guide-outfitters, who service foreign trophy hunters” said Wilson. “Nevertheless, the B.C Wildlife Federation remains committed to working with government on all levels in regards to wildlife issues.”

To read the full text of the news release, click here: B.C.'s revised allocation poliocy a step in the right direction but still falls short, according to B.C. Wildlife Federation

The changes included revisions to allocation of a number of species and regions. For details, download the following FAQ published by the Province of B.C.: Frequently Asked Questions - B.C. Wildlife Allocation Policy 


Make Your Voice Heard on Wildlife Allocation in B.C.!

BCWF is only as strong as its membership, and we need resident hunters in B.C. to stand up and make their voice heard on this important issue by writing letters to both their local newspaper and MLA.

Letters to the Editor

A great way to do this and support resident hunting in B.C. is to bring your concerns about wildlife allocation to the attention of your local community and media outlets by writing a "letter to the editor" to outline your concerns. 

The letters to the editor section of your local newspaper presents an ideal forum for getting your message to a broader audience, whether you’re trying to influence local community members or government. More people read the letters to the editor section than any other part of the newspaper except the front page!

BCWF has drawn up a handy guide to writing effective letters that will increase your chances of getting published - it is available for download at the following link:

Tips on Writing Effective Letters to the Editor 

Contact Your Local MLA

Another effective way to affect change is through writing and calling your local MLA to bring the issue to their attention. Your elected representative needs to be aware of your concerns with the way wildlife allocation is being handled in B.C. so that he or she knows just how important this issue is to British Columbians. The following document has some great tips and examples for writing letters to your MLA:

Guidelines to Writing to Your Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) [PDF]

To find the MLA for your area, click here.


Local Politicians Speak Out on B.C.'s New Wildlife Allocation Policy

Several elected MLA's from across B.C. have spoken out about our province's new Wildlife Allocation Policy - their statements are below:

Andrew Weaver - MLA, Oak Bay / Gordon Head (Green Party)
Guide outfitter industry prioritized over the needs of BC hunters
 
The Government of British Columbia’s recent decision to prioritize the guide outfitting industry over the interests of resident British Columbia hunters is directly contrary to the public interest says Andrew Weaver, MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head and Deputy Leader of the BC Green Party.
 
On December 10th, 2014 the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations released his decision concerning how hunting licenses would be allocated between industry and British Columbians.
 
Contrary to the established Wildlife Allocation Policy, and the consultation process that developed it, this new decision allocated a massive increase in the proportion of licenses available to industry. This means that BC hunters, many of whom hunt for sustenance, may go without licenses this year.
 
“What we are seeing is the needs of industry being placed ahead of the needs of British Columbia residents,” said Andrew Weaver. “Last spring we had legislation passed that allowed guide outfitting operations to be owned by a foreign corporations, and now the government is supporting this industry on the backs of British Columbians.”
 
In February 2013, the government introduced the Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Statutes Amendment Act, 2014, which overhauled guide outfitting in BC. Importantly, it removed the requirement that a guide outfit can only be owned by a citizen of British Columbia, opening up the possibly that guide outfitters are owned and operated by corporations from other countries.
 
Since the legislation passed, government has maintained a focus on advancing the interests of this industry without mention of how it will affect BC hunters. In his June 2014 mandate letter, the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations was directed to “continue to work with BC Guides and Outfitters and other back country operators to ensure continued access and business certainty to Crown land and provide economic and tourism opportunities in rural British Columbia.”
 
“There are over 100,000 British Columbia residents who hunt each year, a number that has been growing over time,” said Andrew Weaver. “This government needs to halt their current approach to wildlife management and ensure that it is British Columbians who benefit from their policies.”
 
“I fail to see why they are advancing the interests of this industry ahead of the interests of British Columbians,” said Andrew Weaver.

Harry Baines - MLA, Surrey / Newton (NDP)
Letter to BCWF President George Wilson

Dear Mr. Wilson,
 
The B.C. Liberals’ latest changes to hunting allocation policy were supposed to resolve a number of key issues facing hunters in British Columbia. Unfortunately they do exactly the opposite, and hunters will suffer for it.
 
First, every hunter knows that decisions about hunting allocation policy must start with good science. But over the past decade, the B.C. Liberals’ repeated budget cuts have curtailed much-needed on-the-ground research and forced wildlife managers to make important decisions in the dark. While the new allocation policy could increase the harvest rate, it will not increase the resources needed to make informed management decisions.
 
Second, B.C. hunters engaged with government in what they thought was a genuine discussion about how best to improve hunting opportunities for resident hunters, guide outfitters and their clients. But the B.C. Liberals largely ignored the input provided by thousands of rank-and-file hunters and made their own decisions with little or no explanation of the reasons or consequences.
 
Third, and most importantly, the B.C. Liberals revealed, in the ugliest terms possible, how little they care for those who disagree with their decisions. In a recent discussion on Facebook, Energy Minister Bill Bennett said, “This is not going to end in a good place for the BCWF if the membership continues to attack Steve[Thomson] and I personally. Frankly Steve doesn’t need the votes to get elected and Im (sic) not running again so all the threats don’t mean shit to us.”
 
To be clear, Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson ignored hunters because he feels secure in his Kelowna-Mission constituency and does not need their votes. And Energy Minister Bill Bennett, who has a well-earned reputation for belittling critics, ignored hunters because he will not seek re-election and doesn’t care about their votes.
 
New Democrats recognize that the only successful hunting allocation policy is one that has buy-in for a wide variety of hunter groups, including the B.C. Wildlife Federation and the Guide Outfitters Association. We recognize that allocation decisions must be based on good science and inventory data and must reflect the needs of hunters from across B.C.
 
We believe that hunters must be part of the solutions and cannot be dismissed because key B.C. Liberal cabinet ministers think they are politically irrelevant.
 
We’re eager to meet with you to come to a practical solution to the mess created for political purposes by the Liberal government.
 
 
Sincerely,
 
Harry Bains, MLA for Surrey-Newton
Spokesperson for Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations

Dan Brooks - Leader, BC Conservative Party
Open Letter to B.C. Resident Hunters
 
Dear Hunters,
 
Recent changes to Wildlife Allocation Policy have ignited an uproar in the hunting community. I cannot tell you how excited I am about this - to see hunters energized over this issue gives me great hope. It is long overdue. The policy has been flawed for decades and it's time to get it right.
 
I am a passionate hunter myself, born and raised with it like I am sure many of you were. My folks bought a hunting resort in 1975 in the Vanderhoof area, though for my father it was just a hobby. When I was old enough I became an outfitter and operated the resort for almost 15 years until a horse crushed my leg while on a moose retrieval and put me out of commission. I've since recovered from the broken leg, and I haven't by any means given up on hunting, but I can't outfit anymore. A sadness weighs in my heart over this because I love hunting (particularly moose hunting - oh the sweet sound of bulls grunting in the fog) and guiding gave me the opportunity to share my passion with others.
 
In 2011 the BC Liberals introduced "the Matrix" as the solution to Wildlife Allocation. The formula was so complex and convoluted it was hard to wade through the bureaucratic lingo. Myself, I lost about 40% of my business with the Matrix. I poured my soul into the subject to find out what had happened and discovered how awful the policy was for everyone, not just me - plain and simple the Matrix was a terrible idea. 
 
I tried talking to my MLA and to bureaucrats to enact change, but I quickly discovered that because I wasn't a member of the outfitters association GOABC I really had no influence. I tried to help create a sportsman's organization which could better represent both outfitters and resident hunters because I strongly disagreed with the GOABC position on the subject and didn't feel very welcome in the BCWF as an outfitter. I went to Victoria to speak with government about the issue but came away so disheartened by the lack of regard for hunters that as I was on the ferry back to the mainland I called the BC Conservative Party and asked what I could do to help stop the BC Liberals. This was my start in politics, which eventually led to me become leader of the BC Conservative Party in April 2014.
 
Upon returning home, I wrote a report titled the Balance Allocation Plan: Solving the Wildlife Allocation Crisis in British Columbia. I called for a whole new approach to wildlife allocation which I called 70/20 +10. The concept was that residents were guaranteed 70%, outfitters 20%, and the remaining 10% was determined based on local circumstances and not decided in Victoria. Because outfitters stood to lose the most in my plan I also advocated for remedies to help alleviate losses. 
 
The Balanced Allocation Plan is mostly redundant now that the Matrix no longer exists, which was much of what I was criticizing in the report. However, the concept of 70/20 +10 still has merit.
 
Some hunters have questioned my current motives as leader of the BC Conservative Party in criticizing the BC Liberals because I was an outfitter before I was a politician. I wrote the Balanced Allocation Plan long before I became leader of the BC Conservative Party, and you can judge my motives from its contents. My motive in criticizing the BC Liberals is because the policy is wrong, wrong, wrong. It lacks the elements I was seeking when I wrote the Balanced Allocation plan - a balanced approach that respected resident hunter priority and outfitter businesses, a policy that had regional flexibility and was not dictated by lobbyists with influence in Victoria.
 
I have since come to the conclusion that the Balanced Allocation Plan does not go far enough, that allocation should have an additional aspect I call Targeted Allocation whereby residents and outfitters set reasonable and biologically possible targets for actual wildlife tags they would like allocated in an area, and then government takes measures to better manage wildlife in those regions to achieve those targets. This concept is intended to achieve real results, and not philosophical arguments what percentage either user group should receive. I still cringe when I think of GOABC claims that resident priority only meant 51%. I can also tell you I've heard hunters say outfitters should only get 5%. Both are wrong in my opinion, these are the extremes and we should all avoid them. 
 
The truth is resident hunters and outfitters need each other. For too long the two groups have been at odds, but the reality is one cannot survive without the other. I believe the worst possible thing hunters could do is to destroy the outfitting industry, the results would be catastrophic to their political influence in an era where hunting is under constant attack from the anti-hunting lobby in Victoria. Likewise, it would be equally catastrophic for outfitters to reduce resident hunting opportunity which would reduce the number of hunters in BC - an important factor in maintaining our political influence. We must work together to keep both sides strong and vibrant, we need a balanced approach to Wildlife Allocation.
 
I invite you to contact me to talk about Wildlife Allocation, it is a subject I believe in passionately and hope that the energy and enthusiasm which has recently exploded give this issue the attention it deserves I the public media. If you share my views I invite you to join with me and the BC Conservative Party. We will champion this cause, but we need your support.
 
Good hunting, and I truly hope to share a campfire with you one day.
 
 
Your friend,
 
Dan Brooks
BC Conservative Leader

News Release: Sweeping changes to B.C.’s wildlife allocations could result in 5,000 fewer hunting permits going to residents

December 10th, 2014

Sweeping changes to B.C.’s Wildlife Allocation Policy proposed by the Guide-Outfitters Association of B.C. would dramatically reduce residents’ access to wild game and increase the number of permits sold to foreign big game trophy hunters, according to the B.C. Wildlife Federation (BCWF). This proposed change could result in 5,000 fewer hunting permits going to B.C. residents.

Most jurisdictions across North America give foreign hunters 5-10 percent of the harvestable surplus of wildlife.  The changes proposed by the Guide-Outfitters Association of B.C., which represents 210 outfitters who have exclusive rights to guide trophy hunters, would give foreign hunters up to 40 percent of specific game species such as mountain sheep, goat and bear, and up to 25 percent of moose and elk.

In 2007 a new Wildlife Allocation Policy was established in B.C. in an attempt to fairly determine the number of hunting permits allocated, which gave foreign hunters the best share of the available hunting permits. Even then, the Guide Outfitters Association of B.C. started vigorously lobbying the government to amend or scrap the new wildlife policy.

“Proposed changes to the Wildlife Allocation Policy are inconsistent with standard practices in otherjurisdictions across Canada and in the United States,” said George Wilson, President of the B.C. Wildlife Federation, which represents 45,000 conservationists.  “There is no justification for these changes and they are not supported by B.C.’s resident hunters.”

Over the last 10 years, the number of B.C. hunters has grown by 20 percent, increasing from 84,000 to over 102,000.  Over the same period, the number of foreign trophy hunters coming to B.C. has dropped from 6,500 to 4,500, a decline of 30 percent.

Hunting has become increasingly popular in B.C. as more families shyaway from industrially produced meats in favour of organic wild game.  This sustainable food movement is particularly popular in northern communities, central B.C. and even the Lower Mainland where people are depending on hunting to fill their freezers and feed their families.

B.C. resident hunters spend over $230 million a year in local communities on hunting related activities and contribute $9 million a year towards conservation work through license fees.  Resident hunters also contribute through donations to conservation organizations such as The Nature Trust, and Ducks Unlimited as well as volunteer for conservation activities. B.C. Wildlife Federation members alone dedicate more than 300,000 hours annually to fish, wildlife and habitat conservation projects across the province.

Moose is the most sought after species by B.C.’s resident hunters.  In many areas, demand exceeds supply and hunters are placed on a Limited Entry Hunt (LEH) lottery to ensure sustainability.  Approximately 70,000 BC hunters apply for 13,000 LEH permits each year, meaning only 1 in 5 hunters get to hunt moose annually.  Foreign hunters do not need to apply for a LEH permit, and can hunt annually, taking moose from approximately 3,000 B.C. hunters each year.  The proposed changes would see even more British Columbians go without an opportunity to hunt moose.

“B.C. residents who depend on hunting to help sustain their families should be supported by provincial government policy,” said Jesse Zeman, a BCWF director, who hunts with his whole family.  “The overriding priority for all hunters is conservation, ensuring there is enough game available for First Nations, and then fulfilling the hunting needs of B.C. families.  Any changes to the Wildlife Allocation Policyshould meet the needs of the majority of British Columbians who enjoy the outdoors, spend time with friends and family, and hunt for food.”

Over the past two decades, there has been a steady erosion of hunting permits available to B.C. resident hunters in favour of foreign hunters. For example, non-resident hunting permits for moose in the Kootenay Region have gone from 6 percent in 1991 to 21 percent in 2012, leaving hundreds of Kootenay residents without the opportunity to hunt moose.

The B.C. Wildlife Federation is calling on the BC government to fairly legislate wildlife allocations. The organization does not support giving away more than 10 percent for moose and elk, and 25 percent of mountain goat, sheep, and bears to foreign trophy hunters.  Ironically, this gives non-resident hunters the best deal in North America.  Several jurisdictions across North America have already set wildlife allocation in law.  Saskatchewan limits non-resident moose hunters to 4 percent of the harvestable surplus.  Alberta sets non-resident allocations between 2-7 percent with a maximum of 10 percent. Washington State has limited non-resident wildlife allocations to approximately 5 percent.

“Resident hunters firmly believe any policy changes should reflect the best interests of the majority of British Columbians who depend on hunting as a sustainable, healthy food source,” said BCWF President George Wilson.  “Our organization is committed to working with the government to protect wildlife and ensure equitable distribution of this resource.”

The following document contains figures and statistics that show the significant economic impacts of resident hunting in B.C.:
BCWF BC Resident Hunter Fact Sheet

The BCWF is British Columbia's largets and oldest conservation organization with over 50,000 members passionately committed to protecting, enhancing and promoting the wise use of the environment for the benefit of present and future generations.  Visit www.bcwf.bc.ca for more information.

For more information on this issue, contact Jesse Zeman, co-Chair, BCWF Wildlife & Allocations Committee, at 250-878-3799 or   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

For more information on the province’s Wildlife Harvest Allocation Policy, visit http:www.env.gov.bc.ca/fw/wildlife/harvest_alloc/