Back when Whitey first arrived with those darn firesticks and I was a cub reporter at a newspaper in the Kootenays, I did stories on the allocation fights between resident and non-resident hunters.
The issue is back in the news as, just before Christmas, the province increased the allocations for hunters from out-of-province, most of whom are taken out into the wilds by guide-outfitters.
British Columbian hunters feel that British Columbians should come first. They have a point. However, there should be enough room for both.
As mentioned, this issue has been around for decades. Back in the 1980s, when I was first covering this issue, the hunting allocations were determined by the regional wildlife biologist, who could play God with hunters and guides who slathered over him when he was determining the allocations and then offered him up for target practice if the allocation went the wrong way.
The criticism, of course, was that politics, not science, played a role in the allocations and I suspect there was some truth to that.
Now the province has taken the allocation decision out of local hands and moved it to the provincial level. There are pros and cons to that. When the decision was made at the local level, at least the person making the decision had knowledge of the wildlife resource in the area.
Moving the decision to the provincial level, however, lessens the political games. However, politics still plays a large part.
There is lots of money in hunting, particularly in the guide-outfitting business. A guide-outfitter friend of mine in the Kootenays (who was subsequently killed by a lion while on a big safari in Africa) counted rocker Ted Nugent among his clients. Nugent, and others like him, would pay $30,000, or more, to trek into the B.C. backcountry and plug a bighorn sheep or grizzly bear. Prices are probably higher now.
And that’s the rub, guide-outfitting is a business; hunters are just a group of residents.
When I asked Premier Christy Clark, who didn’t meet with the hunters outside the Civic Centre on Wednesday, she downplayed the impasse, saying it’s only a matter of 110 animals.
However, for me, one of her telling statements on this issue was that guide-outfitters are small business people who provide employment. “We believe in jobs, we’re a jobs government.”
Business first, people second.
So the politics hasn’t really been removed from the equation. Hunters will argue that, by buying gas, ATVs, supplies, etc., they are a major contributor to the economy as well, and they are.
But it’s much easier for guide-outfitters to point to how many jobs they create, whereas it’s a tougher job for hunters. So, a “jobs government” looks no further.
Both hunters and guide-outfitters say there should be enough room for both and there should be. Hunters, however, say that British Columbians should get first dibs on the wildlife resource.
They’re right and, ironically, the B.C. Liberals’ Jobs Plan says British Columbians should have first dibs on new jobs in the province, so shouldn’t that B.C.-first mentality be extended to the wildlife resource as well?