This month the British Columbian government decided to revise its December 2014 amendments to the Wildlife Allocation Policy that granted hunting guides and their foreign clients a larger share of hunting tags across the province.
The revision was prompted by many resident hunters who voiced their disapproval of the December changes through petitions and protest. Though the government did not revert back to wildlife allocation splits agreed to by B.C. resident hunters and guide outfitters in the 2007 policy, residents are happy to see the B.C. government listening to the concerns and modifying the policy.
In most provinces and U.S. states, foreign hunters are limited to 5 – 10 percent of the allocation of hunting permits. However, the December changes to the 2007 Wildlife Allocation Policy awarded the Guide-Outfitters Association of B.C. (GOABC) up to 40 percent of the allocation for some species. (The most recent amendments provide some marginal adjustments to the allocation)
The government felt it was important to establish the most beneficial allocation, while still keeping resident hunters a priority. Wildlife has become a top renewable natural resource for the region and hunting provides many economic opportunities in B.C. If there were more opportunities for foreign hunters, it would boost tourism and bring extra revenue to the area in the form of guided hunts.
However, opponents of this change believe it was simply a business move with no thought to wildlife management or local citizens.
In a press release earlier this month, George Wilson, President of the B.C. Wildlife Federation (BCWF), a province-wide voluntary conservation organization said: “Wildlife is an integral public resource and wildlife policy should encompass much more than protecting the economic interests of a handful of businesses. Policy should reflect the environmental, social and cultural importance that wildlife offers the residents of B.C.” Wilson believes that allocations for resident and non-resident hunters should come after conservation requirements and after First Nations food, social, and ceremonial harvest opportunities have been met.
Wilson said he was encouraged that the government in addition to the policy revisions was also going to review the management of Thin Horn Sheep and late season elk in the Peace region, and was hopeful that forthcoming recommendations would accurately reflect the needs and contribution of B.C.’s resident hunters.
Ultimately it is up to state agencies to decide what management plan works for their wildlife and adjust hunting permit allocations accordingly. SCI Foundation encourages equal opportunity for resident and non-resident hunters, but realizes every state’s priorities vary. It will be interesting to watch the decision processes as other states encounter similar issues.