SURREY, BC, Dec. 10, 2014 /CNW/ - The Guide Outfitters Association of British Columbia (GOABC) is looking forward to the resolution of the longstanding harvest allocation debate that has divided the hunting community in BC for too long. The move to legislated, fixed shares of Category A (allocated animals) is welcome by the guide outfitting industry, and is hoped to be the return of cooperation and partnership between the recreational resident hunter and guide outfitting community.
The GOABC recognizes the special place wildlife and hunting holds for British Columbians. We support a healthy resident hunting community, and support the principle of resident priority (that residents should receive the majority of harvest opportunities) after First Nations' needs. We strongly support the Hunting and Fishing Heritage Act and the public right to hunt and fish. Residents can also choose to use the services of a guide outfitter and access additional hunting opportunities. In fact, 17% of the tourists to British Columbia are guided by BC resident hunters on permits to accompany.
British Columbia hunters enjoy some of the longest and most liberal hunting opportunities of any jurisdiction in the world. Hunters are able to pursue 18 of the 'North American 29' big-game species, most on general open season (where you can purchase a tag over the counter). This includes mule deer, white-tailed deer, Rocky Mountain elk, black bear, caribou, and Rocky Mountain bighorn and Stone sheep. Mountain goats and moose have limited general open seasons in the province.
There are 245 guide outfitters in the province, who provide valuable jobs in small, rural communities throughout BC. These opportunities are provided to First Nations, cooks, wranglers, and guides, among others. Nearly 10% of the guide territories in the province are owned by First Nations; many more First Nations citizens are employed in the guide outfitting industry.
Guide outfitters, like sport fishing, skiing and other tourism operators, rely on non-resident vacationers to maintain a healthy and viable guide outfitting industry. Guide outfitters are the founders of the tourism industry in British Columbia, and today approximately 5,000 clients travel to BC every year to hunt big game. Our clients pay more per-capita, per-day to the province than any other tourist visiting BC. Out-of-province visitors contribute approximately 50% of the funding to the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation to support its mandate of 'contributing to healthy and diverse populations of native fish and wildlife by improving knowledge, restoring or managing habitats, and enabling stewardship.'
The imminent decision around allocations will have no significant impact to the average resident hunter. A handful of species, on which harvest needs to be controlled over time and space, are allocated by government. Our position is for our share to be near our historical level. What the GOABC is advocating for is a fair, stable business environment; one that includes access to a reasonable share of the allocated wildlife resource.
We recognize that there may be reductions in opportunities and revenue for the guide outfitting industry; we are committed to working with the government to mitigate those impacts. We are also committed to maintaining the guide outfitting tradition for many years to come, and working with our partners in conservation; First Nations, the BC Wildlife Federation and others who are committed to sustainable wildlife and the long term preservation of wildlife and wild places.
Image with caption: "Guide Outfitters Association of B.C. (CNW Group/Guide Outfitters Association of B.C.)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20141210_C7653_PHOTO_EN_9311.jpg
SOURCE: Guide Outfitters Association of B.C.
For further information: please visit http://www.goabc.org or call Scott Ellis at 604-541-6332.