The privatization of BC’s wildlife

Editor:

With the stroke of a pen, Minister Doug Donaldson has made the decision to move towards privatization of BC’s wildlife, a cherished resource with high social value that rightfully belongs to all British Columbians.

Our hunting opportunities are to be managed sustainably, in the public’s interest, and in public trust. Instead we see a trend towards privatization that benefits foreign and commercial hunting interests at the expense of BC residents. In short, BC resident hunter opportunities are being systematically chiseled away by Donaldson and his staff through intentional displacement of residents hunting for food.

Wildlife allocation is the sustainable harvest based on science, and to be divided between residents of BC and non-residents after First Nations ceremonial, social, and food needs have been met.

With wildlife allocation BC residents have priority over non-residents. This government has manipulated policy allowing the commercial hunting sector to retain allocation that they’re unable to utilize, ultimately privatizing wildlife by denying access to the public.

Government harvest data for 2012-2016 revealed that the commercial hunting sector had underutilized its allocated share of moose in Skeena south. Of the 28 guide outfitters operating in the area, 1,529 moose were allocated to them, of which they harvested 706 – less than 50 per cent. This is not the result of hindering regulation on the industry, but a government allocation grossly exceeding demand. What many may not realize is that the intent of such a management direction is to grow trophy class animals for the purpose of catering to commercial trophy hunting interests, and to achieve this by removing access for resident sustenance hunters.

In 2015 the Liberal government made wildlife harvest allocation policy changes which spurred public protests that were supported by the then-opposition NDP. Ironically, now that the NDP is in power it has reneged on those pledges, stating that the policy established in 2015 has been reviewed and that it now supports its direction. They stated further that any unused commercial allocation would no longer be shifted to resident hunters, which ultimately sets the direction towards privatization of BC’s wildlife. The BC resident hunting community is losing out to commercial and foreign hunting interest lobbyists.

Are the best interests of the resident public and our wildlife being served by our government, or is this a reflection of cronyism at the heart its decision making process? A theme that unfortunately seems to be inundating mainstream media today on so many levels.

David Lewis, Chairman

Northwest Fish and Wildlife Conservation Association

Prince Rupert

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