There seems to be some confusion being created as to how the new Hunting Allocation Policy and Limited Entry Hunting (LEH) works. We hope that the following will clarify the issues and educate those who may have been misled with the wrong information.
In 2010, the new policy was implemented. This policy is province-wide in scope and was agreed to by both the Guide Outfitter’s Association of B.C. and resident hunters as represented by the B.C. Wildlife Federation. The policy states that B.C. resident hunters will have priority when it comes to the “licensed hunting” of any species in B.C. Historically, in the Spatsizi, residents split the Annual Allowable Harvest (AAH) for sheep 50/50 with the guides. The new policy states that resident hunters will have a minimum 60 per cent of the AAH for sheep and the guides will have 40 per cent. In order for this to happen the Ministry of Environment (MOE) allocated three more rams to harvest annually, taking us to 11 rams and allowing the guides their existing quota of eight. MOE feels that the sheep population is healthy and can withstand this level of harvest.
For many years residents were allocated eight rams annually and we were issued 37 LEH permits. With only 37 LEHs we were harvesting less than two rams per year on average when we should have been harvesting eight. We were subsequently issued 50 LEHs by MOE. Over the next few years we were still harvesting less than three rams on average. If one does the math, we have only been harvesting one ram for every 20 LEH’s issued. MOE did the right thing in 2010 and increased our LEH’s to a very conservative 110. Even with this increase we still did not achieve a harvest of 11 rams. The guides once again harvested their full quota in 2010, as they do every year.
The LEH system has been in place in the Spatsizi for well over 30 years and certain things have been proven. Less than 30 per cent of the hunters that draw LEH even go out and hunt, and of these only 20 per cent of them are successful in harvesting a ram. Only full curl rams can be harvested, which is another layer of regulation ensuring conservation of the sheep population. Resident hunters find it alarming, and somewhat confusing, how we have become the target in this issue by those seeking to misinform. Strangely we have not heard of anyone complaining about how many unregulated users there are in the Spatsizi. It seems only the heavily regulated resident hunter is the problem.
Everyone should be well aware that tourism dollars are not just generated by non-residents of B.C. Jobs and business opportunities are also generated by B.C. residents. When hunters travel north to hunt they spread the wealth across our whole province. A person that lives, works and travels in B.C. should be treated as well as anyone else. The new policy on licensed hunting supports this premise and entrenches “resident priority” as such. This ensures that the hunting lifestyle that is so important to B.C.’s resident hunter is respected and protected.
We hope this makes things a bit clearer for everyone that may have been misinformed.
Larry Hartwell is the President of the Bulkley Valley Rod and Gun Club