I feel compelled to write this letter to lay out the facts on the harvest allocation split in the Cariboo Chilcotin.
There has been much in the papers, Facebook, radio, etc., on how the British Columbia Wildlife Federation (BCFW) feels they have lost much to the guiding industry.
I would like to set the record straight with numbers direct from fish and wildlife.
The BCWF is claiming the big reduction in Limited Entry Hunt (LEH) permits is because they are giving them to the guides –– false.
The main reason for large LEH reductions is because of population change.
There just is not the moose population there used to be. The guide outfitters get reduced in percentage just as much as the residents do. A healthy moose population is key to high LEH permits and viable guide quotas.
I feel I should explain where this all started. In 2007 an allocation policy was put in place with a very complicated matrix table based on utilization and importance.
The concept was good, but the outcome was unexpected. The system was supposed to result in very little change between resident/outfitter splits.
When it was run it showed devastating decreases in guide quotas that would result in half the outfitters in Region 5 becoming unviable and put out of business.
Temporary checks and balances were put in place to offset the hardship while there was much time and effort put into figuring out a better system.
As that system was based on the theory of use it or lose it –– a terrible system for the conservation of our wildlife –– guides were forced to try and kill all their quota whether they wanted to or not and fish and wildlife would pump out more and more LEH permits to have the residents reach their percentages on a dwindling moose population.
Residents went from 12 hunter days to harvest a moose in 2005 to more than 25 hunter days, now.
There just isn’t enough moose. But that is another topic, for another day. The way it was pre-2009 in Region 5, outfitters had 22 per cent of the non-First Nations AAH (annual allowable harvest) in the region and they had a success factor of 10 per cent, where you are issued more quota than you are allowed as there are always outfitters that are inactive for one reason or another and never reach the allowable harvest.
The LEH system is the same, where many more LEH permits are issued than the allotted number of moose they want killed, as not everyone is successful or even goes out hunting.
Success factor was critical as outfitters had severe punishment if they went over their quota by even one animal.
With resident LEH permits, they could go over more than 100 animals or more with no consequence, other than a few less LEH permits the next year. Outfitters have now lost their success factor.
About 20 per cent or more of this region is vacant guide territories. The 22 per cent of the non-First Nations AAH split we used to have included that vacant area, which added many more moose to be split between the 54-plus guides in Region 5.
We have also lost that, so just between those two things we went from 340 moose regionally in 2008, to 208 moose (if at full implementation) in 2009. Now we are only going to get two per cent of what is in our guide territories back and with the population change we are down many more moose permits between all guides.
I’m afraid there is still going to be a lot of outfitters going out of business.
Between all category ‘A’ species in region five, with the original 2007 policy, we would lose 138 animals in our region. With the new decision we get back about 16.
I would also like to point out the true percentages of the moose AAH. The first 55 per cent goes to First Nations, about 20 per cent or more of the region has no guides in it.
All the moose in this zone goes 100 per cent to the residents, and as it is not all good moose habitat it is about five per cent of the AAH. Of the remaining 40 per cent which is in guide territory only, it is split 75/25 with the non-First Nations residents. This is 30 per cent to non-First Nations residents and 10 per cent to the guides.
In summary of the split in AAH, 90 per cent goes to all residents –– First Nations and non-First Nations –– and 10 per cent goes to the guides.
Outfitters are generally residents of this province who have a passion for abundant wildlife — a passion for wild places, a passion for the hunt and want to make their living doing so.
We certainly are not getting rich; it’s a way of life.
We have to stop bickering over a few animals and get on with the real issue, which is loss of habitat and growing our most valuable resource — wildlife.
We have to all work together –– resident hunters, First Nations and outfitters, or we will all lose in the end.