The president of the Kelowna and District Fish and Game Club is adding his voice to those who are calling changes to the hunting allocations for moose and caribou in the Peace-Laird region deeply worrying.
A government proposal will see the moose harvest for local resident hunters cut by as much as 50 per cent in the Peace-Liard River region of northeastern B.C. and caribou hunting will be closed across the region for all licenced hunters.
"As an Okanagan resident hunter myself, I know all Okanagan hunters and anglers should be deeply concerned about the decision process that has led to reductions in hunting allowances for moose and caribou in Peace-Liard," Mark Rogers said.
According to the provincial government, the proposed changes will help Treaty 8 First Nations continue their way of life. The province has negotiated a deal that will see 195 forestry, oil and gas projects proceed in the traditional territory of the Blueberry River First Nation.
The hunting changes are expected to be an interim measure and one part of a broader package of actions specific to improving wildlife stewardship, upholding Treaty rights, habitat conservation, and the future of resource management.
"Instead of a science-based approach that we can trust and rely on, we are seeing a politically expedient approach to wildlife management," Rogers said.
"Our members have a real concern that politics could start to govern resident hunter allocations in other regions of B.C. It is very important that the government of B.C. commit to basing wildlife management decisions on science, not politics."
There is a virtual roundtable with BC Liberal MLA's to discuss the proposed changes to hunting regulations on March 30. The event is online and those interested will receive a Zoom link closer to the day of the event.
Rogers is encouraging B.C. hunters and anglers to engage with their politicians and fill out the online questionnaire with the province.
"I see this decision as punishing resident hunters across B.C. for the cumulative effects of industrial activity rather than addressing the effects themselves. The decision seems far removed from scientific management. It makes it very difficult to believe that wildlife allocation and conservation decisions are now made, and will continue to be made, for any reason other than raw politics," said Doug Bancroft, president of the Victoria Fish & Game Protective Association, a 5,000-member club on Vancouver Island.
The B.C. Wildlife Federation has more than 43,000 members, many of who are gravely concerned.
“The BCWF is deeply concerned that the province is negotiating away sustainable outdoor recreation instead of confronting a court decision dealing with cumulative effects of unsustainable resource extraction,” said BCWF executive director Jesse Zeman.
“The province’s own data indicates hunting is sustainable and that licensed hunter harvest is already extremely low,” added Zeman. ""Local hunting experts agree that hunting has one of the smallest impacts on the landscape, yet it is where the province is focusing its attention."
Zeman is calling on all hunters and anglers to submit their feedback to the Ministry's public engagement and to meet with their MLAs and voice their concerns.