I write newsletters to educate you and give you the skinny; stories and names that in a small way help to explain the how, who, what, why and when that resulted in the ruthless exploitation of the province’s wildlife resource.
Have British Columbians made any progress in challenging liberalized hunting seasons and bag limits, a major reason many wildlife populations are in steep decline in the twenty-one years since the 1996 NDP Premier Glen Clark demanded more money from the wildlife resource?
Notwithstanding my efforts and the efforts of other stakeholders who have consistently challenged liberalized hunting, the first major step to rebuild wildlife populations gets little attention– dramatically reduce hunting seasons and bag limits.
My following ramble underscores the question; will both the BC NDP and BC Liberal Parties honor statutory responsibility and acknowledge past mistakes by publically announcing wildlife populations will not start to recover until there is a dramatic reduction in hunting seasons and bag limits?
Progress has been painfully slow but the BC Liberal Party has finally recognized the magnitude of the damage done to many wildlife populations.
I spoke to Andrew Wilkinson, one of the BC Liberal leadership candidates at a meeting in Oliver because he has the three BC Liberal MLAs past and present on his team who know the wildlife file and have the measure to be part of the solution: Donna Barnett, Mike Morris and former MLA, Bill Bennett.
When the wife and I met Andrew and told him we were from Grand Forks he immediately asked about the deer in Grand Forks City limits. How many communities in BC since the nineties have an urban deer population? I don’t know but the reason doesn’t change- security and a quality food source.
How many deer committees announced the blacktail, mule and whitetail deer on their historic range were in serious population decline? The answer-NONE
In my discussion with Andrew he did mention there was a concern with population estimates and if he became leader and eventually Premier there would be money for the wildlife management file. He also made it very clear that the two East Kootenay MLAs: Tom Shypitka and Doug Clovechok are very concerned about the collapse of wildlife populations
Before the writ was dropped early April I had a phone conversation with BC Liberal MLA Gordy Hoog and asked him who in the BC Liberal Caucus gave a dam about the sorry state of the management on our mountains. His quick reply-Donna Barnett. I also asked him to explain how the Mike Morris Report went public-“Getting the Balance Right: Improving Wildlife Habitat Management in British Columbia”
“The report came to Caucus not the Premier’s office”
Todd Stone, the youngest BC Liberal party leadership candidate was in Grand Forks and acknowledged the decline in wildlife populations and like Andrew mentioned problems with population estimates. I asked him if he would put beautiful BC back on the map. “Yes”
Left of center political parties committed to democratic process have the DNA to go farther and deeper on environmental issues. In BC that point is made by two of the three previous NDP Governments who have left a large positive footprint on the BC land base.
The 1972 Dave Barrett Government legislated the Agriculture Land Reserve at a time when developers were buying farm land for future development.
The Socred Party in 1975 made a promise to scrap the ALR but to their dismay discovered British Columbians would have none of it!
The 1991 Mike Harcourt NDP Government made a commitment to subscribe to the Bruntland Commission endorsed by the United Nations that advised governments set aside 12% of their land base as protected areas.
The parks the Harcourt Government created were a tremendous gift to British Columbians. Unfortunately the proposed Forest Practices Code driven by the mismanagement of the BC Forests, an argument in the media that centered on logging practices in Claquot Sound didn’t survive.
With two out of the three previous NDP Governments leaving a large positive footprint on the BC Landscape and a wildlife resource screaming for help, what are the realistic expectations that the John Horgan NDP Government can cut to the chase and dramatically reduce hunting seasons and bag limits, the first step of wildlife populations starting the long road to recovery?
Premier Horgan spoke at a meeting in Grand Forks 21/2 years ago and one of his many comments was that he had been an understudy of NDP Premier Mike Harcourt.
Before I offer a suggestion to NDP Premier, John Horgan, who are the NDP leaders on the wildlife file? Katrine Conroy, a strong MLA knows the wildlife file after many conversations with BC hunters. Katrine tells me that cabinet colleague, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources, Doug Donaldson likewise has had a similar journey and is well versed in the many stories describing a wildlife resource ruthlessly exploited.
How does former NDP Premier Mike Harcourt’s support for roundtables square up with NDP Premier John Horgan’s approach to the dismal failed Wildlife Regulations Advisory Committee (WRAC)? July 2016 Draft-Draft Terms of Reference
WRAC was a dismal failure a testament made by hunting regulations that have many wildlife populations in steep decline. Committee meetings were chaired by a Regional Biologist, membership was exclusive and only hunters, outfitters and trappers were allowed to participate.
Transparency and accountability, the hallmark of good government was totally ignored. “Committee members must maintain confidentiality with regard to the individual views and opinions of committee members.” Garbage In Garbage Out.
A roundtable like all democratic political processes is imperfect and will on occasion challenge the patience of most stakeholders but there is no alternative. The Spanish American Philosopher edict says it all: history not learned is history repeated.
A template for a roundtable is the 1992-94 Mike Harcourt NDP West Kootenay/Boundary Commission on Resources and Environmental Roundtable that used facts from legions of information to create provincial parks.
Therefore understudy NDP Premier John Horgan is advised to create a Provincial Roundtable one each for the eight wildlife management regions in the province. The over arching issue is to use reasoned thought and due diligence in creating hunting seasons and bag limits that respect wildlife.
Enough politics for the moment there will be plenty of bad feelings soon enough.
The big issue and center piece of the solution that challenges the government corruption that has our wildlife resource in a death spiral is acknowledgement that the anecdotal information from credible voices is much more reliable and superior to botched science.
Our wildlife managers have totally failed us and that journey started with the Minister and his muddled message from Cabinet and the freefall in integrity was passed on to the deputy, assistant deputies, director of wildlife and finally regional wildlife managers, all who have failed us.
A quote from Alex Rose may give our bureaucrats a pain killer for the moment:
“Bureaucratic and authoritarian control over scientific results, results in pseudoscience not science. Such a system will fail and lead to scientific blunders.” (Page 28)
I am going to send you a solid critique of forest management by Brian Horejsi in a few days.
Season greetings to all of you and all the best in 2018.
Barry Brandow Sr.