BEYOND THE HEADLINES: Taking a stand

Columnist Richard Rolke focuses on the government's hunting policies

Dena Sharkey doesn’t meet the common  misconception of a hunter.

First off, she’s not a man and second, she’s not pursuing some blood lust.

“I hunt to provide hormone and antibiotic free, organic meat to my family,” said Sharkey, who grew up on a Coldstream farm.

And Sharkey would rather be focused on her family than politics, but bureaucracy has forced her to speak out.

Back in December, the provincial government initiated changes to allocations or the specific number of certain species of animals that can be harvested.

“The recent changes to the limited entry hunting allocations have now made it more difficult to provide for my family,” said Sharkey.

“I apply for certain limited entry draws on a yearly basis, in order for a greater chance at filling my freezer. I have never been drawn.”

According to the B.C. Wildlife Federation, the new allocations mean B.C. hunters will have fewer opportunities to get a limited entry tag to harvest a specific species, such as moose or elk, while out-of-province visitors will have expanded access to wildlife.

“Hunting has become increasingly popular in B.C. as more families shy away from industrially produced meats in favour of organic wild game.  This sustainable food movement is particularly popular in northern communities, central B.C. and even the Lower Mainland where people are depending on hunting to fill their freezers and feed their families,” states a BCWF release.

“Moose is the most sought after species by B.C.’s resident hunters. In many areas, demand exceeds supply and hunters are placed on a limited entry hunt lottery to ensure sustainability.  About 70,000 B.C. hunters apply for 13,000 LEH permits each year, meaning only one in five hunters get to hunt moose annually.  Foreign hunters do not need to apply for a LEH permit, and can hunt annually, taking moose from about 3,000 B.C. hunters each year.  The proposed changes would see even more British Columbians go without an opportunity to hunt moose.”

Yes, out-of-province hunters boost the economy through guide-outfitters and hotels, etc. but resident hunters also do their part.

They spend more than $230 million a year in communities on hunting-related activities and pump $9 million annually towards conservation efforts by paying license fees. Much of the grassroots conservation work is also done by fish and game club volunteers, including in Lake Country, Vernon and Lumby. They understand the value of a healthy environment and have a vested interest in preserving it for the future.

The BCWF and the government naturally disagree on how many hunting permits could be impacted by the new rules, but the numbers are completely irrelevant. What matters is the concept of who should have access to a public resource.

And if you’re not a hunter or related to a hunter, you may not believe this issue matters. But what if tomorrow, the government announced there will be fewer B.C. Parks campsites available to British Columbians because they are going to out-of-province visitors? What if locals get bumped so people from Alberta or the U.S. can snap up more fishing licenses? Does the almighty dollar trump ownership of something Victoria manages on our behalf?

If you are concerned about the government’s handling of your wildlife resource, contact our MLAs, Eric Foster, Greg Kyllo and Norm Letnick.

Sharkey and other hunters will be taking their message directly to Premier Christy Clark’s constituency office in Westbank Saturday.

 

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