Protest sparks hunting regulation changes

The B.C. government has adjusted its plan to give guide outfitters and their non-resident clients a greater share of big-game hunting.

  • Feb. 11, 2015 5:00 p.m.

The B.C. government has adjusted its plan to give guide outfitters and their non-resident clients a greater share of big-game hunting permits, after protests from resident hunters around the province.

When the plan was announced in December, the government calculated that it represented a shift of 168 animals in limited-entry hunt areas from resident hunters to guide outfitters.

After listening to the protests, Forests Minister Steve Thomson announced Friday that is being adjusted to a shift of about 60 animals to guide outfitters.

The changes affect bull elk and either-sex elk permits on Vancouver Island, moose in the Thompson and Omineca regions, bison in the Peace region and bighorn sheep and grizzly bear in the Kootenays.

“I made slight revisions to the hunts for moose, bighorn sheep, grizzly bear, Roosevelt elk and bison to address the concerns I heard after the decision was released,” Thomson said.

When asked why there were no changes to permit allocations in the Cariboo Region, MLA Donna Barnett told the Tribune Thomson heard all concerns and asked his staff to do some more analysis.

“The changes are made to the hunts that the BC Wildlife Federation expressed the most concern about,” Barnett said. “There were no concerns expressed about any of the wildlife allocation splits in the Cariboo.”

Barnett said one of the reasons changes were made in December was because previous allocations had rendered some guide outfitters’ businesses unviable.

“While there are still some slight reductions to resident hunters for the most the allocation splits are consistent with historic harvest levels by both groups,” Barnett said. “I still support the hunters and the guide outfitters.”

There are 34 limited-entry hunts in the province that are divided between resident hunters and guide outfitters, who typically guide clients from the U.S. and Europe. Resident hunters enter a regional lottery for the available opportunities.

In December the ministry confirmed that  the changes for Region 5 in the Cariboo would  result in some losses of hunting allocations going from resident hunters to guide-outfitters.

For 2015 the ministry predicted the number of grizzly bear LEH authorizations for resident hunters will drop from 138 to 114, with 24 going to guide-outfitters.

For moose it will drop from 2,447 to 2,400, with 47 going to guide outfitters and for mountain goat, the LEH authorizations for resident hunters will drop from 67 to 65.

According to the Ministry of Forests, there are more  than 102,000 resident hunters in the province; up from 82,000 only 10 years ago, and there are approximately 245 licensed guide outfitters in the province employing over 2,000 people.

“I look forward to working with the BC Wildlife Federation and Guide Outfitters Association of B.C. on ways we can all work more effectively together on wildlife management,” Thomson said Friday.

– With files from Tom Fletcher