Members were invited to the British Columbia Wildlife Federation (BCWF) annual general meeting (AGM) last week to discuss new information items and, more importantly, to address their concerns regarding recent changes to the Harvest Allocation Policy (HAP).
The policy, which took effect Feb. 6, raised concerns among local hunters that it would provide more advantages to foreign hunters and professional hunting guides, while restricting hunting access to resident hunters.
On Friday, April 17 Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Honourable Steve Thomas, spoke about the policy and why he felt initiating the change was necessary.
“Finding a fair and equitable way for resident hunters and guides to share the resource has not been easy, has never been easy, as all of you in this room know,” Thomas said. “I know that it has not been widely endorsed or accepted.”
He went on to say, “Overall a decision was to be made, one that in my perspective was balanced, but one that I also feel needed to be made so we could turn our efforts and focus on working together to get out and grow the resource.”
During an open comments period following Thomas’ speech, many individuals brought forward their concerns, unhappy with the decision.
“The intent of the 2007 allocation agreement was actually to [grow the wildlife population] and put allocation issues behind us and move forward,” Region 6 BCWF President Michael Langeggar said of the 2007 five-year implementation plan. “We’re here in 2015 and we’re still debating these allocation issues.”
Several other BCWF members spoke up about their concerns over the policy.
Despite arguments made against HAP, the BCWF was pleased to announce the launch of the province’s first Online Hunter Education Course.
With the BCWF focusing a lot of energy on encouraging youth to hunt, the course will give prospective hunters the option of taking the Conservation Outdoor Recreation Education (CORE) online in preparation for their in-person CORE exam.
“BCWF is excited to announce that prospective new hunters are now able to study for their CORE exam via our new Online Hunter Education Course,” BCWF President George Wilson said in a press release. “The new online version of the CORE course features short videos, narration, and animations that really bring the material to life, and we hope that it will inspire more British Columbians to take up hunting.”
It was noted during the meeting that the course entails a six to seven hour time commitment.
The BCWF also announced that following the federal budget release on Tuesday, April 21, that the Government of Canada would renew the Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnership Program (RFCPP) for three more years at $10 million per year beginning in 2016/17.
“The extension of the RFCPP in today’s federal budget is welcome news,” Wilson said. “The investment by the federal government provides our members and clubs [with] the ability to translate our commitment into action.”
RFCPP provides conservation organizations with the ability to implement large-scale projects to help maintain and enhance fish populations and habitat.
Alongside this major announcement, the BCWF also presented a new logo, with the BCWF Director of Operations Cheryl Johnson stating,” We’re really proud and delighted that we’ve come up with a bit of a refreshed BCWF logo.”
The AGM took place at the Fernie Community Centre from April 23 to April 25.