The Problem

THE STATISTICAL HARVEST DATA AND POPULATION ESTIMATES FROM FISH & WILDLIFE STAFF
VERSUS TESTIMONIALS FROM QUALITY HUNTERS WHO KNOW AND CARE
IS A STORY OF DRAMATIC POLAR OPPOSITE OPINIONS


REGION 8 – OKANAGAN/BOUNDARY – FACTS

THE HISTORY OF THE OKANAGAN/BOUNDARY DEER HERD IS AN EXAMPLE OF ALL THAT IS WRONG WITH WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT IN OUR PROVINCE

THE BOUNDARY DEER HERD, HISTORICALLY THE LARGEST IN THE PROVINCE HAS BEEN IN SIGNIFICANT DECLINE SINCE THE EARLY 1990’S

 

MULE DEER

The Mule deer population in the Boundary is in crisis. Conservative management has been needed for some time and appeared imminent but instead Victoria is placing a species in jeopardy by implementing an even more liberal season.

  • 1995 – MOE Okanagan Wildlife Harvest Strategy – “areas within the ESSF (Engelman Spruce-Sub-Alpine Fur), MS (Montane Spruce), ICH (Interior Cedar-Hemlock) and AT (Alpine Tundra) biogeoclimatic zones have earlier and more severe winters. Management units containing high percentages of these zones are found in the Ashnola, Similkameen, Kettle Granby and upper Shuswap drainages (MU’s 8-03 to 8-07, 8-12 to 8-15, 8-23 to 8-25). Hunting season closing dates for ungulates in these areas must be set earlier than areas with milder climates, to avoid exposing the population to high harvests in years with early winters. Closing dates for General Open Seasons in these management units will generally be October 31 in Region 8.
  • MOE facts regarding hunting Mule deer in the month of November:

    -the ministry states that after October 31, Mule deer become less wary and more susceptible to over harvest than normal and show up with greater frequency in the recorded harvest.
    -the November Mule deer season was closed in MU’s 8-12, 8-13, 8-14 and 8-15 in the mid 80’s due to an over harvest regarded as a “massacre”.
  • January, 1998 – Fred Harper, Regional Biologist Okanagan stated “The Okanagan mule deer populations may have declined by as much as 50% since 1990.”
  • Within the Kettle Granby zone the deer season has always closed on October 31 and 35% of the kill occurred in the last eleven days of October (during the four-point season).
  • April 19, 2008 – Steve Matthews, RPBio Section Head Penticton – “our options are limited to address this apparent conservation issue, so we should be proceeding with limitations on Mule
  • deer harvest to see how the population responds” in MU 8-15. He suggested 8-15 have a four-point season from September 10 -30 and then close. VICTORIA DID NOT LISTEN.
  • October 28, 2009-MOE Penticton recommended not to include the November four-point Mule deer Buck season in 8-15 because available harvest and inventory data, and stake holder input indicates this MU may not be able to sustain a significant increase in Mule deer harvest. VICTORIA IS NOT LISTENING.

    VICTORIA PROPOSAL
    1) Eliminate Four point Mule deer Buck restriction, Oct.21-31 and replace with GOS Mule deer any Buck.
    2) Include MU’s 8-12, 8-13, 8-14 and 8-15 with rest of region November 1 – 10 Four point Mule deer Buck.
    3) Total = 62 days of a Rifle season-any Buck 31 days- Four point Buck 31 days.
    3b) Washington state (adjacent MU’s) 9 day Rifle season with a 3 pt buck minimum.
WHITE-TAIL DEER

It is true there are plenty of White-Tail deer in the city of Grand Forks and adjacent regional districts but it is also true that the mountain White-Tail deer population is in serious trouble.

VICTORIA PROPOSAL

1) Extend WT Buck Rifle season from 75 days to 82 days.
1b) Washington (adjacent MU’s) WT Buck Rifle season is 14 days.
2) Create GOS WT Doe (antler-less) Rifle season 22 days.
2b) Washington (adjacent MU’s) has no GOS WT Doe Rifle Season.


Victoria document (Power Point Presentation dated Oct. 22 ’09) states: White-Tail deer are resilient and are far less susceptible to over-harvest than Mule deer. Their population levels are closely tied to severe winter events.


If that is the case then Fish and Wildlife staff have either refused or have been disallowed to factor in the winter of 92-93, the mother of all winters 96-97 and most recently the severe winter of 08-09 in the Boundary. These winters combined with liberal hunting seasons, highway fatalities and high predator populations, recently including wolves have not allowed the recovery of Whitetail deer.

The White-Tail deer herd is not as resilient as Victoria is suggesting. The low population of mountain (vs. urban) WT deer in the Okanagan region speaks for itself.

“HISTORY THAT IS NOT LEARNED IS HISTORY REPEATED”
  • January 15, 1988-Bob Lincoln –Wildlife Section Head Penticton- The Okanagan Deer Harvest Report – In this report Bob states that:
  1. In the Okanagan where roads are abundant, suggesting a potential for localized over-harvest, 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.
  2. Conservative deer harvests have advantages in addition to assurances that local, unmonitored deer herds where access roads are abundant are not being over-exploited. One of these additional advantages is that hunters seem very pleased with the quality of their hunting experience in the Okanagan. 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, sportsman and others who enjoy the many deer viewing opportunities throughout all seasons of the year. Cougar and other predatory wildlife also benefit from these conservative deer seasons.
  3. Extensive liberalization of the deer seasons would create a much greater need to more closely monitor the deer population. We do not have the staff or the resources to accommodate such a program.
  4. MOE agency still suffers public criticism caused by the poorly conceived antlerless kills in the 1950’s and 1960’s.
  • March 20, 1991 – Allan Peatt – RP Bio Wildlife Biologist Penticton – Deer Management Meeting Minutes – Allan states that:
  1. “His mandate was first and foremost: Wildlife for Wildlife’s sake”.
  2. “The Ministry’s philosophy is: Satisfaction for the public, success for hunters, high enough numbers of deer for observers and to maintain abundant deer populations”.

 

MOOSE

Moose, to be consistent with mismanagement is yet another compromise at wildlife’s expense.

MOE in Penticton recommended the General Open Season for spike fork Bull Moose be shortened to 17 days (Oct. 15-31). Their rationale is the Moose population has been decreased and the high harvest of immature Bulls is not sustainable. Victoria did not listen and is implementing a 32 day season (Oct. 15-Nov. 15). Another vulnerable ungulate receiving more hunting pressure when less is needed.


As with the deer, to compare with Washington state, Bull Moose are a special permit draw only and are ONE permit in a lifetime.

SUMMARY

A comprehensive survey conducted by Statistics Canada revealed that Canadian Wildlife Resources were highly valuable to the nation. This survey also revealed that Canadians value the conservation of wildlife and 86% of British Columbians stated that maintaining abundant wildlife populations was important to them.

Victoria needs to stop catering to this new political agenda. A fall 2009-MOE- document states, “the Ministry currently places a high emphasis on hunter recruitment and retention. Complex regulations are a barrier to recruiting and retaining hunters and hence regulation simplicity is a current priority”.
AT THE EXPENSE OF WILDLIFE.

In April, 1995 the MOE Wildlife Harvest Strategy Paper states: “There are many valid reasons why current hunting regulations are more complex and restrictive than 20 years ago (i.e., increased vehicular access and hunting technologies, increasing urbanization, lack of adequate scientific data for management, recovery of large predator populations, etc.)”as well as “Surveys to determine reasons for the decline in hunter numbers revealed that factors, including rising costs and competition from other activities such as skiing and golfing were most common. License costs were also cited as a reason for the decline in hunter numbers. These costs and competing recreational opportunities are factors beyond the control of the wildlife program.” VICTORIA IS IGNORING THEIR STAFF, SCIENCE & DATA.

What is needed is an immediate freeze on current deer regulation proposals and a subsequent, meaningful wildlife management review. Ministry of Environment Fish & Wildlife must confirm their population numbers and be transparent and not just connect with convenient voices that dutifully represent the ministries’ bias!


NEVER FORGET…WILDLIFE FOR WILDLIFE’S SAKE!

 

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