How come, when I drive from the Lower Mainland to the Alaska Highway in northeastern British Columbia, I only see one moose along the side of the road? How come when we spend two weeks in the fall, as a group of four to eight resident hunters, we see a total of one elk and six moose in prime habitat?
By now many British Columbians have heard or seen in the news about some battle that some group of hunters have about something to do with the Guide Outfitters Association of British Columbia (GOABC) getting more animals, or something like that. A number of non-hunters have said to me, “Ya, I follow it a bit but what’s it really about?” I’m glad you asked. You see, the provincial government has closed the purse strings to conservation in British Columbia and they’ve done so for many years now. They rely on not-for-profit organizations, like the BC Wildlife Federation (BCWF) and others, and their countless volunteers to do all the backbone work of caring for the environment, creating or restoring fish and wildlife habitat, amongst a multitude of other things. Aside from habitat preservation, one of the MOST important things that are required is STRONG SOLID WILDLIFE POPULATION ASSESSMENTS. You see, whether you’re a hunter or not really doesn’t matter in this case. Without proper scientific data from our regional wildlife biologists, we run the risk of losing decades of conservation.
So you may ask, “What does this have to do with this WILDLIFE ALLOCATION thingy?” Here it is. When this government puts more animal allocations in the hands of the GOABC (who predominantly cater to foreign trophy hunters) we as British Columbians will lose MORE wildlife than if those same allocations had gone to a resident hunter. Why? Because the GOABC use planes and helicopters to scout their territories and spend countless hours in their territory patterning their prey so that they can claim a 98 per cent success rate on their website. As resident hunters, we save up a years worth of holidays and go. That’s it. We don’t have the unlimited resources the GOABC use. And for those reasons alone, a resident hunter on the Limited Entry Hunting (LEH) system will harvest fewer animals each year than a guide outfitter. You see the LEH is like a lottery system for hunters, and we have a choice to enter in it (it gives the likelihood of a successful hunt much better odds), or hunt in a “general open season”. LEH was created in order to protect certain animals in certain areas from being over harvested and putting the population “At Risk”, BUT, and I repeat BUT, now it has become a money game for the government of B.C., and in so doing, they’ve lost sight of what it was intended for — the protection and conservation of wild animals until they reached a solid, healthy population.
This provincial government must immediately enact proper conservation funding. The “allocation issue” is a big part of that. Equally important is funding the regional biologists, so as to be able to gain proper scientific data on regional wildlife populations. Without these measures in place, we are playing William Tell with a blindfold.
I ask this government, including my local MLA Simon Gibson, to work harder to understand the needs of conservation, the needs of resident hunters here in B.C. Listen to your people and organizations like the BCWF. They are “in the know” so to speak. Let’s turn this train wreck around, before we never see a moose on our journey.
Ken GrantProud resident hunter and conservationistMission, B.C.