Concern is building amongst 95,000 resident hunters and their families throughout British Columbia over the possibility the province may amend its wildlife allocation policy.
In 2007 the BC Wildlife Federation representing resident hunters, Guide Outfitters Association of BC representing guide outfitters, BC Trappers Association and the province agreed to the terms for a new allocation policy.
This policy was born through four years of negotiations between the parties involved and to be fully implemented in 2012.
The policy is most generous to the commercial hunting sector, particularly when compared to other North American jurisdictions. Yet today commercial guide outfitting interests are lobbying the province to change this agreed to policy to further their benefit.
It’s an action many feel is in bad faith.
The proposed changes to policy requested by commercial hunting interests will restrict and remove resident hunt-for-food opportunities while creating additional opportunity for guide outfitters and their non-resident hunting clients.
Today’s allocation policy is clear in how sustainable harvest opportunities will be shared between stakeholders. It is fair, predictable, open and transparent, unlike the previous allocation policy.
The previous allocation policy failed due to inconsistent use that often led to behind-closed-door deals at the regional level, often neglecting resident input and opportunity.
To address this, allocation decisions today are to strictly follow policy, are non-negotiable, periodically audited for consistency and subject to provincial oversight.
This is one of the positive results stemming from the new policy.
This being said, it is concerning that guide outfitters now object to having their ability to negotiate sweet heart deals outside of policy removed and wish to have this reinstated.
Generations of BC resident hunters revere their sustainable hunting opportunities. Hunting is a lifestyle that fosters and nurtures family and friendship bonds and creates cherished memories. It provides organic food and allows us to connect with nature in a traditional manner.
It is these values the provincial government must hold paramount, protect and promote.
Our new premier Christy Clark has publicly stated she will put BC families at the centre of the decision making process.
How her government implements the Provincial Wildlife Allocation Policy in 2012 will be a true test of this commitment.
Will she stand by full implementation in 2012 as committed to, or will there be changes to that policy that cater to 240 guide outfitters at the expense of 95,000 resident hunters and their families?
Certainly the resident hunting community and their families will be watching the outcome and will influence how they vote in the next provincial election.
Kitimat Rod and Gun Association.