NEWSLETTER November 20, 2018

Luke Doxtator Stewardship Manager

TSILHQOTIN National Government

Early November I had a conversation with NDP Cabinet Minister, Katrine Conroy and asked her if there was any hope the NDP/Green Party Coalition Government would mandate the necessary changes to stop the decline in many wildlife populations.

Katrine said the government was supporting a Moose management roundtable initiative supported by the TSILHQOTIN National Government. I subsequently retrieved the newsletter dated Sept. 28, 2018-“BC Interior First Nation Government and province sign Moose Co-management Agreement that makes significant points that underscore the sorry state of wildlife management province wide.

The extremely small percent of credible BC hunters can relate to Tribal Chairman Chief Joe Alphonse’s frustration with wildlife management:”We had three other years where we tried to work with the province and haven’t got anywhere” Alphonse told the Tribune Friday adding when they eventually deactivated roads in the Chilcotin it was to get the government’s attention.

“We will adhere to the regulation for this year, but with the understanding that next year it will be a joint management effort.”

What is the primary objective of the Moose Recovery Roundtable?

If the moose is the overarching management objective then A Strategy to Help Restore Moose Populations in British Columbia by Al Gorley July 8, 2016 is the blue print.

Al Gorley’s 21 recommendations in his report is an important source of information that underscores the policy change necessary to reverse the dramatic decline of many wildlife populations.

Unfortunately the facts as I know them give no inclination the NDP/Green Party Coalition is prepared to endorse Al Gorley’s Report.

Comments by Environment Minister, George Heyman in a recent article titled “BC Government moves to tighten resource industry regulations by Tom Fletcher” October 22, 2018 are enlightening/encouraging and at the same time worrisome.

Minister George Heyman has begun the NDP Government’s overhaul of oversight of resource projects, bring forward legislation to set up a new superintendent to oversee engineers, biologists, foresters and other professionals who are currently self- governing.

Heyman said the change is required “restore public trust in decisions made on natural resource projects.” No truer words said!

Heyman also said professional organizations are in favor of the change and it would be “very, very rare” for the new superintendent to overrule one of the professional organizations.

    With all due respect to Minister Heyman , Professional Organizations have failed to successfully challenge the political decisions that dominate the Forest and Range Practice’s Act, Riparian Area Protection Act and Wildlife Act.

Professional Reliance Review Mark Haddock page 79. Regime Specific Evaluations

The Professional reliance Review looked at nine statutes governing natural resources. Most of the legislation adequately addresses government’s authority to make resource management decisions, although minor amendments might be warranted to support other recommendations.

    Two notable exceptions are the Riparian Areas Protection Act and Forest and Range Practices Act, both of which restrict government authority over public resources. These issues are well known and have been examined in detail by the Ombudsperson, Forest Practices Board and Case Law.

An apt description of the long standing contempt for responsible wildlife habitat management.

Doug Donaldson, the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource’s mandate letter July 18, 2017 raises another red flag: improve wildlife management and habitat conservation and collaborate with stakeholders to develop long and short term strategies to manage B.C.’s wildlife resource.

How does a Moose recovery Roundtable connect with the Minister’s mandate letter; collaborate with stakeholders?

For starters the wildlife management bureaucracy is not credible and they are not going to support the obvious important first step- cut hunting opportunity to the bone.

  1. Cancel the spike bull season
  2. Gut the group hunt and in the process admit population estimates were designed to reflect the political agenda.

As I have said in past newsletters, Premier Glen Clark demanded more money from the wildlife file, a point made by a letter written in 1996 by Wildlife Director, Jim Walker. The NDP Government was in a sea of red ink and so mandate letters to NDP Ministers announced a polar opposite management vision of natural resources than former NDP Premier Mike Harcourt.

As a consequence two meetings at the old Grand Forks Wildlife Hall November 1997 organized and supported by hunters desperate to reduce the mule deer buck season in a last ditch effort to save the critical mass of the mule deer failed.

Since 1996 the political foot print on wildlife management has gotten bigger, a point made in the Feb 2015 Provincial Framework for Moose Management in British Columbia: Regional staff contemplating reductions in moose hunting opportunities should address if hunting opportunities for other big game species may be enhanced within conservation limits to partially mitigate impacts to hunters (page 11).

Al Gorley’s # 7 Recommendation; Ensure decisions about management of moose hunting are consistent with population enhancement objectives and transparent is polar opposite to the Big Game Harvest Management Procedure 2010.

“The Big Game Harvest Management Procedure (2010) describes its purpose as “to establish a transparent and consistent method by which regional staff will develop, maintain and modify big game hunting regulations to meet management objectives”. The procedures provide for provincial and regional advisory committees, through which stakeholders provide input to the regulations.

The overwhelming anecdotal stories from credible hunters, outfitters, First Nation Stakeholders are a blunt reminder that wildlife management policy has been a dismal failure since the 1996 NDP Glen Clark Government. The 2010 Big Game Harvest Management Procedure was part of that failure exacerbated by the obvious lack of measure of provincial and regional advisory committees.

The facts as I know them predict the Moose Recovery Roundtable will not endorse the dramatic reduction in hunting pressure necessary to start the slow recovery of the moose population. Certainly the problem is much bigger than hunting opportunity. Access, habitat ,predators especially the wolf are problems but the solution if there is one, starts where you can instantly make a difference.

There is no evidence that stakeholders who will attend your roundtable connected to wildlife/habitat directly or indirectly have the measure to champion the interest of the moose first and foremost.

There are more parts to the story I will present in my next newsletter starting with a review of Guidelines for Wildlife Policy in Canada-1982.Of all the quotes I underlined there is one quote that puts our greed in perfect perspective-

GUIDING PRINCIPLES

  1. Canadians are the temporary custodians, not the owners of their Wildlife Heritage!

Barry Brandow Sr.

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