Clinton Rod and Gun Club member Bruce Ambler (left)

Clinton Rod and Gun Club member Bruce Ambler (left)

B.C. to see more investment in wildlife management

All hunting license revenue in B.C. will now be earmarked to support and enhance wildlife management activities.

All hunting license revenue in B.C. will now be earmarked to support and enhance wildlife management activities.

Forestry minister Steve Thomson announced the change this week, saying a new agency will be formed in the fall of 2017 with startup funds of $5 million from government.

Another $9 to $10 million collected each year from hunting licenses will go directly to the agency.

Cariboo Chilcotin MLA Donna said the move comes after broad consultation with stakeholders and is something that has been a priority ever since she became an MLA eight years ago.

“They have wanted for years to have an agency like we have for the Freshwater Fisheries Society to help enhance and manage wildlife populations in B.C.,” Barnett said. “To put the model together, the government has put $200,000 to support a process to engage wildlife stakeholders, First Nations and the public later this spring.”

Barnett said for the past years, people have been out on the land base, taking care of wildlife as best they can, but the wildlife populations are declining due to climate change, predators and other factors, and the need to have people on the ground working with government is crucial.

As president of the Cariboo Chilcotin Guide Outfitters Association and as an Alexis Creek rancher, trapper and guide outfitter, Al Madley, said he fully supports the government’s decision.

It builds on the Gorley Report, which was released last summer outlining a strategy to help restore moose populations and the province’s commitment of $1.2 million to implement some of its recommendations, and the $27 million commitment by the province in February to enhance caribou recovery, he said.

“There is lots going on and lots of engagement with all the stakeholders so I’m very very pleased,” Madley said. “This new agency is really in its infancy stage right now and the details are fairly unknown, but we are supportive anytime there’s a move by government to increase wildlife populations in B.C. for all people to enjoy.”

Clinton Rod and Gun Club member Bruce Ambler is also a member of the Cariboo Chilcotin Guide Outfitters Association.

Ambler said he and Madley have interests in hunting, in the rancher’s perspective and the need for predator control, and trapping.

“Our different perspectives bring a real knowledge of the balance that needs to happen on the landscape,” he said. “In past years, with the infighting over the piece of the pie that is shrinking, there’s been too much focus on who gets what and not on how big the pie is. If government is willing to put money toward building wildlife, we support this thing 100 per cent.”

Ambler said it doesn’t matter how much funding is put in place if there is no co-operation between the stakeholders.

“It needs to be focused on growing wildlife and not allocation,” he added.

Barnett said it all goes back to the mountain pine beetle infestation and its impact on the forests.

“Ever since there’s been lots of logging going on and lots of roads opened,” she said. “People who hunt and fish and use the backcountry will tell you there are lots of roads that should be deactivated and that feed should be planted in those areas for wildlife habitat.”