Changes are being proposed to B.C. policy on allocating wildlife harvests which would give non-resident trophy hunters more opportunities at the expense of local hunters, according to members of the B.C. Wildlife Federation.
Jesse Zeman, a director of both the local Oceola Fish and Game Club and the BCWF, and co-chair of the BCWF Wildlife allocations committee, said he is concerned because resident hunters pay the majority of the licences and surcharges—money which goes into the cost of managing wildlife in the province.
Yet under these changes proposed to the policy governing allocations, guided hunters from outside B.C. would be given more of the share of wild game.
In most North American jurisdictions, non-residents receive five to 10 per cent of the wild game allocation, but the proposal he fears the province will approve in the coming week would give them 25 per cent of moose and elk and 40 per cent of wild mountain sheep, bear and wild mountain goat.
In order to keep the harvest sustainable, the resident hunters’ share would have to be reduced, by a reduction in the number of tags offered by lottery to hunters in the Limited Entry Hunting draw.
“I’m a numbers guy. I like to see us make decisions based on facts and figures, so this is really frustrating to me. It just doesn’t add up,” Zeman said.
He estimated these changes would mean 5,000 fewer tags would be available to the B.C. residents who currently inject $9 million a year into the province’s economy in license fees; and who spend an estimated $230 million a year on hunting-related activities, from fuel to accommodations, to equipment and food.
And, that doesn’t account for the more than 300,000 volunteer hours and the funds the 45,000 BCWF members put into conservation, including fish and wildlife habitat restoration projects, land purchases and other efforts that benefit the whole community.
“Wildlife is a public resource in this province, so this whole question is of paramount importance,” Zeman said.
“The question is who gets to go out and hunt. Do we want to sell the resource or do we want to allow local, B.C. families to be able to enjoy the outdoors and feed their families with organic, wild meat?”
He also wonders what’s next: “Will anglers be targeted next or will we find, in the future, that our access to Crown land is threatened too?”
He adds that these changes are occurring at a time when more residents are becoming interested in hunting.
In the last 10 years, Zeman said the number of B.C. hunters has gone from 84,000 to more than 100,000, a 20 per cent increase.
Female hunters are on the rise, and more families are enjoying the outdoors while providing food on their tables.
At the same time, the number of foreign hunters, who must obtain the services of a guide to hunt in B.C., has declined 30 per cent, from 6,500 to 4,500.
An emergency public meeting to discuss the issue has been arranged for Kelowna on Tuesday, Dec. 16, 7 p.m., at the Kelowna and District Fish and Game Club, 4041 Casorso Rd.
Zeman urges everyone who is concerned about the proposed policy change, contact their MLA and insist that residents’ access to wild game not be given away to hunters from outside B.C.
More details are available on the BCWF website bcwf.bc.ca.