A cursory examination of the facts suggests the Mike Morris Report; “Getting the Balance Right: Improving Wildlife Habitat Management in British Columbia” is yesterday.
“There is an urgency and heightened concern amongst resident hunters, guide outfitters, trappers and wildlife viewing industry and conservationists that the province is not acting quickly enough to address the decrease in wildlife populations and the degradation of wildlife habitat.”
The final report of the current moose recovery project “Provincial Framework for Moose Management in British Columbia” will be the measure of Minister Thomson’s resolve to step aside from the politics that has seriously compromised the province’s wildlife resource and accept the judgment of the credible voices who know the way forward to rebuild the province’s moose population.
The moose recovery plan will obviously draw attention to the impact of predators on the moose population especially the wolf, lack of access management to provide space for the moose and the sorry state of habitat management principally a function of logging practices especially the large clear cuts.
But will there be a discussion of the impact of hunting on the moose population? For starters will participants in the moose recovery plan discuss the negative population impacts on bulls by the implementation of the spike-fork bull season- a bull moose having no more than two tines on one antler?
How many moose are killed or wounded that had more than two tines and what is the realistic statistics on moose wounded that are not found and subsequently die? Remember on page 47 of the Alberta Management Plan for white-tailed deer the following quote- “Crippling losses from hunting have not been quantified in Alberta although the Fish and Wildlife Division reported that a survey of the literature showed average losses of 23 and 27 percent of reported kill in either sex and buck only seasons.”
How many provincial biologists believe we cannot compromise wildlife populations by hunting? A few years ago Globe and Mail columnist, Mark Hume wrote an article on the declining moose population in Region 5 and the provincial government biologist quoted ( I have lost the article) said that the hunting was obviously not part of the problem as the number of hunters had not increased.
A hollow vacant comment from a provincial government biologist whose terms of employment demanded he sign a contract which strongly stipulates termination if he should dare criticize the provincial government publically.
If you are an ardent knowledgeable hunter or if you have read my newsletter for years in which many sources of anecdotal and scientific information are quoted then ask yourself why would Minister Thomson endorse a moose recovery project and instantly put a cloud over the credibility of the initiative by including former provincial government biologists; Mark Williams and Brian Harris?
I can’t run the numbers on biologist Mark Williams but I certainly can with Brian Harris who I have known for many years and no better source of information than the 2016 and 2017 September/October issue of BC Outdoors. This year like last Brian authored a report titled “2017 Hunting Forecasts”.
There are many quotes from the BC Outdoor article that have no connection to responsible wildlife management but I will start the process in the near future of challenging Brian’s credibility with his comments on Mule and whitetail deer numbers in Region 8 Okanagan/Boundary 2016-2017 which are over the top and go a long way to explain the contempt many hunters and concerned citizens have for wildlife biologists and managers.
In view of the fact that the hunting opportunity agenda grows every two years via the new Hunting Regulations that showcase new opportunity that invariably relies on wildlife population inventory that is not true and remember not true in civil court is called lying, I will expand generously in the near future on the following quotes especially now that the deer bag limit in Region 8 Okanagan/Boundary is three.
- “Mule deer are doing really well in this region and hunter harvest continues to climb”.
- “Whitetail deer are also doing well. Spring surveys found their numbers to be stable even with the month long general open season for antlerless deer”.
There are three former Penticton provincial government biologists connected to the moose recovery plan; Al Peatt, Tom Ethier and Brian Harris.
Al Peatt was hired in the early eighties and left the ministry in the mid nineties which coincided with Premier Glen Clark’s mandate of demanding more revenue from the province’s natural resources.
I got to know Al and senior biologist Bob Lincoln well thanks to many meetings especially the stormy meetings with ranchers and range staff that were steadfast in trying to stop the 1985 Bighorn Sheep transplant with a thirteen point argument full of holes. Even though reasoned thought prevailed and bighorns won the fight unbeknown to all of us save a few senior bureaucrats this was the end of the vision that justified the $190,000.00 the August 1972 Social Credit Government spent to purchase the 1470 acre Boothman Ranch.
To-day Al works for the West Bank First Nations and is a participant in the moose recovery program. I last talked to Al at the June meeting of the Wildlife Stewardship Council and his immediate words when we met- “I cannot believe the denial”.
Brian Harris was hired in the mid eighties and his presence in meetings at the Okanagan Boundary Wildlife Advisory Round Table; Co-ordinated Resource Management Plan (cows)and Outfitter Meeting was minimal and at no time did regular participants believe he had the measure of a qualified provincial government biologist. He was a pleasant, friendly lightweight.
Tom Ethier is the Assistant Deputy Minister on the point overseeing the Moose Recovery Plan. In a previous journey he was hired in the mid/late nineties as a Penticton Provincial Government biologist. Joe Carvetta, one of the better conservation officers brought Tom to the house and introduced him.
As we know now, Tom’s tenure started at about the same time as Premier Glen Clark’s 1996 mandate that demanded more revenue from the province’s resources. Once again punch in Jim Walker, Director of Wildlife on your electronic device and you will find the letter embraced by the Glen Clark NDP and supported by the BC Liberals via the Minister’s message on page two of the current 2016-2018 Hunting and Trapping Regulation Synopsis that forced wildlife managers to ruthlessly exploit the province’s wildlife resource.
One thing for sure both Tom Ethier and Al Peatt know the measure of Brian Harris!
Based on previous conversations I have witnessed John Henderson, First Nation President of The Wildlife Stewardship Council will make it very clear to all participants of the Moose Recovery Plan that we have to respect wildlife and remember the seventh generation.
In his own way he will also remind participants including the Minister and his Cabinet Colleagues that First Nations are literally standing in the Cat Bird seat, the tallest mast on the old schooners.
First Nations have a constitutional right to hunt that has been seriously compromised by the utter collapse of scientifically driven wildlife management that respects wildlife in B.C. That plus the June 2014 Supreme Court of Canada decision that strengthens First Nation Land Claims has resulted in a political force that cannot be denied!
Barry Brandow Sr.