The Guide-Outfitters Association of B.C. hopes to make changes to B.C.’s Wildlife Allocation Policy

The Guide-Outfitters Association of B.C. hopes to make changes to B.C.’s Wildlife Allocation Policy

Changes to B.C’s Wildlife Allocation Policy could be devastating to local hunters

The Guide-Outfitters Association of B.C. has proposed making dramatic changes to B.C’s Wildlife Allocation Policy.

The Guide-Outfitters Association of B.C. has proposed making dramatic changes to B.C’s Wildlife Allocation Policy, changes that would provide non local big game trophy hunters with further hunting opportunities that may be devastating to the bighorn sheep population in the Kootany’s, according to members of the B.C. Wildlife Federation (BCTF).

“As of now, we’re really hoping that the ministry does come to their senses and change that [policy] because if they don’t, the impact, we’ll feel it forever I think,” BCTF president and Fernie local George Wilson said. “Specially in the Kootenay’s the impact is mainly to bighorn sheep.”

He went on to say, “The Outfitters, under this new policy, could harvest every legal ram in their territory and they’re a very sough after species for foreign hunters.”

The BCWF noted that this change would give non-resident hunters more opportunities at the expense of local hunters. As many as 5,000 fewer hunting permits may be distributed to residents across B.C.

The majority of jurisdictions across North America give foreign hunters five to 10 per cent of the harvestable surplus of wildlife, but according the BCWF, the proposed changes would increase that number to up to 40 per cent of specific game species such as mountain sheep, goat and bear and up to 25 per cent of moose and elk.

With these dramatic increases, in order to sustain these harvested animals, resident hunters’ shares would have to be reduced.

The BCWF also raised concern over the current financials involved in local hunting. According to the BCWF, resident hunters pay for the majority of the license and surcharge fees that go towards managing wildlife in the province, approximately $230 million a year in local communities on hunting related activities and $9 million a year towards conservation work through license fees.

But with trophy game like bighorn sheep selling for upwards of $30,000, foreign hunters would be reaping the benefits.

“Because these sheep demand such a higher price, they can afford to hire a number of people to help them find the sheep,” Wilson said of foreign hunters. “They have a very distinct advantage over resident hunters.”

Wilson noted that he has been on the BCWF board for 17 years now, and during that time he has developed a strong working relationship with the government that is now being compromised with this proposed change.

““This decision that has come down has really had an impact on that relationship to say the least,” he noted, adding, “We still are, on a daily basis, hoping to find some common ground.”

The Fernie Rod and Gun Club will be hosting a meeting in mid January to further discuss this issue, a meeting Wilson said he plans to attend.

More details are available on the BCWF website bcwf.bc.ca