By Michael Langegger
Does the province support B.C. resident families or foreign trophy hunters?
The B.C. guide outfitting industry that harvests wildlife for profit, and their foreign trophy hunting clients, have become the subject of much controversy amongst the resident hunting community throughout B.C., and the BC Wildlife Federation.
At the heart of the issue is the Guide Outfitters Association of BC (GOABC) lobbying forest, lands and natural resource operations minister Steve Thomson and Premier Christy Clark to remove more wildlife harvest allocations from 100,000 resident hunters to 210 guide outfitters throughout B.C.
Ultimately, the GOABC is asking that government hand over substantially more B.C. resident wildlife allocations to guide outfitters.
What does this mean for resident hunters? Much less opportunity to fill your freezers with organic meat, increased odds on limited entry, and less opportunity for resident hunters to hunt overall.
This in an effort by the GOABC to prop up commercial trophy hunting primarily for foreigners, at the expense of B.C. residents.
Other North American jurisdictions allow commercial hunting interests 10 per cent or less of allocated species.
Here in B.C., guide outfitters have successfully lobbied the minister to allocate (give them) up to 40 per cent of allocated wildlife species.
Independent guide outfitters and the GOABC have argued the economic benefits of the trophy hunting business.
However, recent economic reports reveal that resident hunters contribute far more to the B.C. economy through the many businesses supporting their outdoor recreation, hunting for food, and wildlife conservation.
With these findings, it makes no sense economically, and in the interest of wildlife, to shift hunting allocations away from resident hunters to that of foreign trophy hunters.
Resident hunting spans generations having a strong heritage, traditional, social and cultural foundation.
Family and friendship bonds are fostered and nurtured through our revered hunting opportunities, and many cherished memories created lasting lifetimes.
We fear that the forest, lands and natural resource operations minister and the premier may not recognize or fail to better entrench these very important family values of B.C. residents, and cater to the GOABC and their trophy hunting for profit business agenda. By coincidence, the GOABC and a number of guide outfitters contributed to the provincial Liberal party in the last provincial election.
It is our perspective that after conservation, and First Nations food, social and ceremonial needs, that the needs of B.C. residents be met over that of foreign hunting interests.
We must ask government decision makers if they will allow 210 guide outfitters and the GOABC to trump the social values, economic contribution, and hunt for food opportunity of 100,000 resident hunting families?
If the minister and premier truly support BC’s 100,000 resident hunting families, then the now vitiated 2007 allocation policy needs to be rescinded, allocated wildlife spits legislated, and immediately set to 90 per cent residents and 10 per cent guide outfitters for all species as is done in other jurisdictions.
Does the province support 100,000 B.C. resident hunting families or that of 210 guide outfitters catering to foreign trophy hunters? The minister’s decision will tell and we are anxiously awaiting it.
Kitimat resident Mike Langegger is the chairman of the Northwest Fish and Wildlife Conservation Association.