By Judie Steeves – Kelowna Capital News
Published: April 07, 2009 10:00 PM
Updated: April 07, 2009 10:18 PM
B.C.’s resident hunters are losing out to non-residents in the way the provincial government is allocating Limited Entry Hunting (LEH) permits, and it’s going to get worse if hunters don’t stand up for their rights.
That’s the word from Al Springer, a director for both the Peachland Sportsman’s Association and the Okanagan Region of the B.C. Wildlife Federation.
He’s been involved for a number of years in discussions between hunters, guide-outfitters and the government on policy for allocation of hunting licenses.
He says the attitude of this government is that hunting should be a commercially-viable business, not just a sport that allows local hunters to fill their freezers with meat for their families while they enjoy the outdoors.
That means that trophy hunting by visitors to the province (who are only permitted to hunt here with a licensed guide/outfitter) is being favoured when allocation decisions are made.
And, that goes against the province’s allocation policy, says Springer.
“Hunting should be managed based on science and we should be following the policy,” he says. Yet, non-resident hunters took 14 of the moose harvested in this region in 2007, while residents harvested only 50, a split of 28 per cent for the non-resident trophy hunter, instead of the agreed-upon 15 per cent.
Since the LEH permits are given out by way of a draw, the odds of getting a moose tag are 20 to one, while the non-resident is just given one when he pays for it, slanting the harvest in favour of those with money and against those without.
“It’s not fair, and it runs contrary to what was agreed upon,” he says.
“We’ve asked for an increase in the number of LEHs this year. In many cases, these animals will just die on the highway and the meat wasted if we don’t have an opportunity to hunt them for meat to feed our families.”
Contrary to the provincial government’s policy of encouraging more hunting in B.C., such inequities have resulted in fewer people having the opportunity to hunt here, he says.
Because the government’s policy is that this is “use it or lose it,” Springer says it’s likely the allocation to local hunters will drop even further in future unless more LEHs are up for draw, because only a small percentage of those who get a draw actually harvest an animal.
On the other hand, non-residents using trained guides nearly always fill out their quota.
Guide/outfitters generally prefer the LEH system of managing game because it means there will be fewer hunters participating, and a better quality hunt for their clients, with less competition, he says.