Al Martin with the BC Wildlife Federation speaks to Kitimat-area hunters at the Riverlodge on January 17.

Al Martin with the BC Wildlife Federation speaks to Kitimat-area hunters at the Riverlodge on January 17.

Kitimat area hunters encouraged to push back on hunting allocation changes

The BCWF held an information meeting in Kitimat January 17 to talk about hunting allocation policy changes.

Approximately 50 of Kitimat’s area hunters turned out for an informational meeting hosted by the BC Wildlife Federation on January 17.

At the meeting, Al Martin, director of strategic initiatives, encouraged hunters to connect with their MLA and with members of the government in order to encourage the government to back down from a proposed shift in the hunting allocation policy in the province.

The meeting was mostly informational, with Martin providing background to the allocation policy in the province which he said goes back to 2004, and which resulted in a policy the BCWF supported in 2007.

However, said Martin, since there he’s “seen an erosion of resident hunter opportunity,”

The increase in the share of guide permits to hunt moose, grizzly bear and other restricted animals in limited-entry hunting areas of B.C. totals 618 “hunting opportunities” across the province per year, says a statement from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. Based on the success rate of hunts for different species, “this model represents a transfer of approximately 186 animals from residents to guides.”

It’s a backwards transition in favour of non-resident hunters, given it’s resident hunters which have increased over the past 10 years.

He said that the amount of resident hunters in B.C. has gone up 20 per cent from 85,000 to 102,000 over the last decade. Non-resident hunters, by contrast, are down 30 per cent, from 6,500 to 4,500.

Kitimat’s Mike Langegger, who is the Northwest Fish and Wildlife Conservation Association  (NFWCA) chairman, spoke at the meeting as well, saying he finds the shift in allocations “very upsetting” and spoke highly of the social and family aspect of hunting which gets put at risk from the changes benefitting non-residents.

Skeena MLA Robin Austin calls the proposed changes, at the heart, a shift to privatize a public resource, and said it’s vital that every BCWF member get angry.

Austin was at this meeting as well, but had said the week before to the Sentinel that the NDP is on the BCWF’s side, and the issue will come up in the House when it goes back in to session in February.

The BCWF is also calling for hunting allocations to be legislated by B.C., rather than through policy which has the potential to frequently change.

– Files from Tom Fletcher