VICTORIA, March 2, 2015 /CNW/ - A petition signed by more than 16,000 resident hunters calling on the Province of B.C. to rescind controversial changes to the Wildlife Allocation Policy announced on December 10, 2014 will be presented in the Legislature today by Dr. Andrew Weaver, Green Party MLA for Oak Bay – Gordon Head.
"This petition represents a significant block of voters who are extremely unhappy with recent changes to the Province's Wildlife Allocation Policy, which gave a larger share of Limited-Entry Hunting permits to guide outfitting businesses at the expense of resident hunters," said Al Martin, B.C. Wildlife Federation (BCWF) Director of Strategic Initiatives. "We are sending a strong message to government that wildlife is an integral public resource that should not be treated as a mere commodity for sale to the highest bidder."
The BCWF is asking the provincial government to fully repeal the changes to the Wildlife Harvest Allocation Policy announced December 10 and limit non-resident hunters and Guide Outfitters Association members to a maximum of 10 percent of the Wildlife Allocation Harvest for moose and elk, and 25 percent for sheep, bears and goats. Most provinces and U.S. states limit foreign hunters to 5-10 percent of the wildlife allocation.
In addition to giving a larger share of wildlife to guide outfitting businesses, which service wealthy foreign hunters for a fee, the B.C. government also changed regulations eliminating penalties if guides exceed their annual game quotas as well as allowing guide outfitters to extend the length of their tenures.
These changes sparked outrage in the hunting community resulting in province-wide protests by thousands of disgruntled resident hunters, many of whom rely on hunting to feed their families.
Minister of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson announced some minor modifications to the Wildlife Allocation Policy on February 6th, 2015 in an effort to appease angry resident hunters, which fell far short of addressing the legitimate concerns of resident hunters regarding access to a public resource.
Hunting has undergone a resurgence in B.C. in recent years with sustenance hunting becoming a popular family activity. Over the past 10 years, the number of B.C. resident hunters has increased by 20 percent, from 84,000 to 102,000, and the fastest growing segments joining the hunting movement are women and youth. In contrast, the number of foreign trophy hunters coming to B.C. has declined from 6,500 to 4,500.
"It simply doesn't make any economic sense to give a larger share of wildlife to guide outfitters, whose numbers are declining, and fewer hunting permits to resident hunters, whose numbers are increasing," said Martin. "Lottery draw hunting is already oversubscribed. It is not uncommon for resident hunters to face odds of 30-to-1 when applying for a permit to hunt certain species. With this new wildlife allocation policy, the chances of residents receiving a hunting permit for wild game has become an even bigger long shot."
"The B.C. Wildlife Federation is asking the B.C. government to revise their policy so that wildlife allocation splits between resident hunters and guide outfitters are consistent with standard practices in other North American jurisdictions."
The BCWF petition, which has been signed by 16,139 B.C. residents, will be tabled today in the Legislature following question period at around 2:30 p.m.
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 their time for conservation activities. B.C. Wildlife Federation members dedicate more than 300,000 hours annually to fish, wildlife and habitat conservation projects across the province.
The BCWF is British Columbia's largest and oldest conservation organization with over 46,000 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.
SOURCE B.C. Wildlife Federation
For further information: Al Martin, BCWF Director of Strategic Initiatives - cell number 250-480-9694; Cheryl Johnson, BCWF Director of Operations - cell number 778-686-2413; For general media inquiries, please contact Curtis Ketter, BCWF Marketing and Communications Coordinator at 604-882-9988 (ext 233)