I was both intrigued and puzzled to read the comments by MLAs Donna Barnett and John Rustad in a recent Liberal Caucus news release: “NDP confirms plan to cull moose calves and their mothers.” Barnett and Rustad criticize our government for a proposed small increase to limited-entry hunting authorizations.
I was intrigued that they chose this issue in the first place because their track record on wildlife management, while they were in government, was abysmal. And, I was puzzled, because under their watch, far more moose cows and calves were killed when they were in government. In fact, moose cow and calf harvest are down dramatically over the past decade – it was almost 600 animals in 2011, and last year just under 80 animals. A huge decrease by any measure.
Unlike the former government, properly managing wildlife is a key priority for this government. That’s why licensed hunting of cows and calves is concentrated only within the Mountain Caribou Recovery Areas in the Parsnip Valley and northwest of Revelstoke. Reducing moose abundance in these areas is expected to reduce predator populations, mainly wolves, and consequently reduce predation on threatened mountain caribou.
In 2019, outside of caribou recovery areas there were only six moose cow/calf harvested province-wide. The plan for 2020/21 is similar. Approximately 80-90 per cent of all cow and calf moose harvested by licensed hunters come from caribou recovery areas. In 88 per cent of the province occupied by moose, cow and calf moose hunting is not allowed.
The irony in this is that MLA Barnett acknowledges that this has been going on for more than five years. Five years ago, MLA Barnett was a parliamentary secretary in the Liberal government and MLA Rustad was a cabinet minister. If either of them raised concerns about the cow/calf hunt at that time, they didn’t say it publicly. And if they didn’t raise concerns about it then, it’s awfully hypocritical of them to raise it now.
More to the point: why do we have to protect caribou by managing other species like moose and wolves? Once again, wildlife mismanagement by the former Liberal government. The southern mountain caribou was listed as a threatened wildlife species by the federal government in 2003. What did the former government do? At best, a patchwork approach that no one thought was working. It wasn’t until the NDP formed government in 2017 that real action was taken to try and save this iconic species.
Through the Provincial Caribou Recovery Program, we committed $47 million over five years to support caribou recovery, using a comprehensive, science-based approach.
These initiatives include herd planning (a collaborative approach involving Indigenous Nations, industry, stakeholders and governments), habitat management, protection and restoration, maternity penning programs, a supplemental feeding program, animal relocations, predator management and other measures. Moose and caribou. Whatever the species, our government won’t take advice from the former Liberal government on wildlife management.
Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development