NEWSLETTER – RESIDENT HUNTER
Preface: There are two chapters to my resident hunter story: the problem of recruiting
new hunters when wildlife populations are at historic lows and hunting opportunity
an oxymoron/contradiction typical of B.C. politics since the mid-nineties!
The resident hunter is analogous to the private in the army. Successful armies need
plenty of privates but they have to be trained by officers who have a successful track
The future of hunting in B.C. is going to demand the recruitment of new hunters,
an onerous task when you consider that many wildlife populations are at historic
lows not seen in the modern era of wildlife management on the North American
A message from retired provincial government biologist, Lincoln in his report , Deer
Harvest in the Okanagan, Past Results and Future Direction December 1987 is a
reminder why sustainable hunter recruitment demands a healthy vibrant wildlife
population: “Whether or not an individual deer hunter was successful, we have received
many reports suggesting the hunt was of high quality and enjoyable based on the
number of deer seen. Other advantages are naturalists, tourists, sportsmen and others
who enjoy the deer viewing opportunities throughout all seasons of the year.”
A generation ago Bob Lincoln’s Dec. 1987 Region 8 Okanagan conservative
management strategy was endorsed by Wildlife Federation member clubs in Region
- “In the Okanagan where roads are abundant suggesting a potential for localized overharvest
and where the wildlife management staffing capacity does not allow for careful
monitoring of local deer herd status, it is prudent to be fairly conservative in harvest
strategy.” In recent years Okanagan deer hunter success rate has been notably good”
Conservative wildlife management that stops the decline of many wildlife populations
is the only realistic hope to recruit new hunters which is a polite way to describe the
divide/schism in the B.C. hunting fraternity.
Beyond Fair Chase, the Ethic and Tradition of Hunting states the obvious message
readily accepted by credible hunters: A hunter is a predator participating in a world
where predation belongs. Just as predators belong. to the natural system, an ethical
hunter also belongs to the natural system” (page 20)
Sound bytes from names reinforce the importance of recruiting new hunters and
also bridging the divide/schism in the hunting fraternity:
I recently had a phone conversation with two past BC Wildlife presidents, Carmen
Purdy and Harvey Andrusak. Carmen Purdy and I have known each other since the early
eighties. He was a BCWF president in the mid-eighties, a long time emeritus board
member of Nature Trust and a major player in the Kootenay Wildlife Heritage Fund, the
sponsors of the April 13, 2019 Big Game Symposium in Cranbrook. Remember the
Wildlife Symposium was well attended because participants were fully aware there has
been a dramatic decline in wildlife populations in Region 4 Kootenays.
Carmen’s description of the B.C.Wildlife Federation hunting opportunity agenda was
certainly original: “ They are on the wrong mountain.” Like all credible hunters he
agrees the first step to stop the decline of many wildlife populations is a reduction in
hunting seasons, bag limits and Limited Entry Hunting authorizations.
The reason I ask hunters and non-hunters if they agree the hunter is a predator is
non-hunters don’t have the knowledge to make the call in reducing hunting opportunity a
point made by BC Liberal MLA, Donna Barnett from 100 Mile House in a recent phone
Donna responded to the question by saying she would publicly support a new
wildlife management plan for the eight wildlife management regions in the
Donna has a long history of being outspoken and may well be our best hope to find
the sum of the reasons the whitetail deer population has been ruthlessly exploited.
Carmen Purdy agreed some animals shouldn’t be hunted. And yes, both of us were
critical of the behaviour of Mark Clark and Jese Zeman.
Harvey Andruchuk is not a hunter so my conversation with the recent two term
president of the BC Wildlife Federation was short. Nevertheless the two topics
discussed have a large impact on the future of the province’s wildlife resource and
hunting: predators and hunter recruitment.
Harvey agreed the hunter is a predator but deflected the question of reducing hunting
opportunity by stating the prey/predator balance is out of control. I believe every
veteran, credible hunter in B.C. will agree with Harvey’s call but does not a
prey/predator cycle out of balance validate conservative wildlife management?
In Grand Forks the red flag that is now reality started early December 2005 at the
8km spur on the Sand Creek Road one of my old hounds cranked her tail on a frozen
cougar track, went up the road farther and started trailing three tracks barely discernible
in the hard snow-wolves!
Yes there are more cougar sightings than in the past notwithstanding the fact the
cougar population in Greenwood, Grand Forks and Christina Lake is a shadow of my
time guiding non-resident hunters. Cougar sightings have increased because of the
dramatic decline in prey species and deer seeking refuge on private property.
A few years ago I was talking to Albin Hochsteiner who started cougar hunting in the
mid-sixties. Albin was adding up the number of hounds recently killed and when the
number got over 10 I asked Albin “are we talking about cougars or wolves?”When
he said cougars we both laughed.
Credible hunters will quickly tell you deer populations are down 90-95% since the
mid-nineties and in desperation to survive deer have moved to the urban environment.
As a consequence the young cougar hunts in your backyard for deer, house cats and
The wolf is the major problem and there is no socially acceptable solution to
reducing their numbers where there is a large forest company.
Harvey and I did agree recruiting new hunters is going to be a challenge. He made
the comment there are few 40-50 age hunters.
In one of my conversations with Andrew Wilkinson the leader of the BC Liberals he
reminded me that after WW11 hunters as a percent of the population in B.C. was
significant. To-day hunters as a percent of the population in B.C. is polar opposite:
100,000 versus a B.C. population of 5.071 million.
When Andrew Wilkinson steps out of the gladiator ring he lives in, you can have a
constructive insightful conversation. So I asked him if he would support a public review
of wildlife management. He said he would. Unfortunately the wildlife management
data is so inaccurate and off the mark that the sum of the information underscores the
importance of decisive political leadership!
A classic example of the problem repeated many times throughout B.C. is the
whitetail and mule deer population estimates in region 8 Okanagan versus anecdotal
reports from credible hunters throughout the region.
British Columbia ungulate species Regional Population Estimates and status-
Preseason 2000 to 2017 in three year increments do not change.
Estimated Mule Deer 28,000-42,000 – stable
Estimated Whitetail Deer 31,000-44,000 – stable
The sum of the anecdotal stories of the many hunters I spoke to in Region 8
Okanagan plus the meeting of 55-60 hunters at the Kelowna Rod and Gun Club March
3, 2019 all add up to populations for both species well under 10,000.
Together For Wildlife acknowledges the problem but advocates a slow tiresome
game plan polar opposite to stopping the steep decline of many wildlife populations.
Goal 2- Informing stewardship: Management Driven By Data, Information and
Knowledge.The right data, information and knowledge are essential for successful
Action 4- For example we will fill critical gaps in wildlife monitoring and
inventory and develop wildlife population and habitat supply models.
Decisive political action demands totally end running the wildlife management
bureaucracy a point made by a history lesson I will share with you next newsletter.
The Southern Interior Land Trust (SILT) announced March 2, 2020 Bighorn
Habitat Saved, a key habitat area for a herd of 200-300 bighorn sheep has been
purchased by a non-profit conservation group.
The 270 acre land purchase connects with 301 acres owned by Nature Trust in the
Morrissey Creek Watershed on the Gilpin Grassland ungulate winter range.
The land purchase also connects with the strong message on page 1 of the Draft
Management Plan July 2008 Proposed Gilpin-Morrissey Wildlife Management
Area. The primary rationale for considering this WMA is the presence of year round
wild sheep habitat, winter essential winter mule deer habitat and species and
ecological communities at risk.
There is still one big story to tell. My son, Bear made an $85,000.00 contribution, the
go to the proposition that started the land sale game.
He also took the high road and convinced Region 8 Provincial Government
Biologist, Andrew Walker to reduce the harvest of rams and in doing so readily accepted
a reduction to his five year quota. Andrew’s call was based on science.
Bear tells me a hunting club in Abbotsford contributed $10,000. That’s impressive!
Len Mehmal whose family owned the property also has a story to tell next newsletter.
Buying land for wildlife is an arduous task whether it be governments or the private
sector but when the purchase is made plans immediately become yesterday. A good
example is the 301 acres owned by Nature Trust immediately north of the 270 acres.
The Wild Sheep Society of British Columbia made a $50,000.00 contribution which is
likewise significant. The bighorns have been on the Gilpin Grasslands since March
1985 and yet the resident hunter footprint has been a non-starter since a letter
written by the B.C,Wildlife Federation Wildsheep Committee Chair Darrel Winsor Jan.
Remember when you read Darrel’s quote the bighorns are on Gilpin because of a
team of credible British Columbians: “if you put the misguided intentions of a
particular member of the Grand Forks Chamber of Commerce and her guideoutfitter
husband ahead of the 20,000 members of the B.C.W.F. or more pointedly, the
members of the Okanagan Region, then we are all in serious trouble…I admire
everyone’s concern for the resource, however I loothe their intentions!!!!
The letter was written to Bob Lincoln Regional Wildlife biologist. Bob Lincoln and
Provincial Government Biologist, Al Peatt did an excellent job of selling the merits of
the bighorn transplant!
The coronavirus has a presence in Grand Forks. The story has been confirmed
by the Doctor’s Clinic.
Barry Brandow Sr.
GLOBE AND MAIL March 31, 2020
Two articles in the Saturday, March 28, 2020 edition of the Globe and Mail
underscore the problem and solution to meaningful, honest debate about the future of
British Columbia’s wildlife resource.
The problem is well advertised in the article titled Takaya the grey wolf should
become B.C.’s Cecil the lion: “But why would anyone kill a wolf ? This question is
setting social media channels ablaze”.
“Although concealed under a smokescreen of scientific wildlife management,
regulations that attempt to legitimize a behaviour so grossly misaligned with societal
values ought to be challenged and vigorously.”
The solution to challenging British Columbia’s dismal management of the province’s
invaluable natural resources is well made in the article titled; Globe relying on science
experts to help readers through the crisis-
“Journalism has been declared an essential service by provincial governments and
maintaining the highest standards of accuracy and fairness, while continuing to
challenge government leaders for more action and transparency has never been
more critical- both to save lives now and to safeguard our future.”
Reporters cannot and must not just record what experts say. They must use their
experience to ask probing questions about whether Canadians are being told what they
need to know”
“Personally I’m beyond grateful to be a Canadian journalist who doesn’t have to deal
with political leaders who dismiss science and factual news coverage”- Sylvia Stead-
Is there a future for the province of British Columbia’s wildlife resource when
harvesting a wolf is grossly misaligned with societal values and in the process
dismisses science and factual news coverage?
I have written many newsletters since the new millennium as a resident hunter/
guide-outfitting family highly critical of wildlife, range, forest, water, park management
always using names and quotes. The news media has been virtually silent!
The irony of the current attack on the harvesting of predators especially the wolf
is that a debate driven by all the facts will quickly underscore a major problem, a
catastrophic collapse of most ungulate populations, primarily because the prey/predator
cycle is out of control!
The closure of the grizzly bear hunt by the NDP government was an emotional
decision driven by an aggressive social media campaign that has done incalculable
damage in challenging the exceptional weak science that dominates natural resource
management in B.C.
The Globe article Takaya the grey wolf should become B.C.’s Cecil the lion begs an
important question, how do British Columbians square up with voices that are polar
opposite to recently deceased and well revered Post Media journalist, Christy
Blackford’s call- “Truth always regardless of Consequences?
Barry Brandow Sr.