Town hall looks at hunting rules

NANAIMO – Hunters will discuss proposed tag allocations during town hall meeting at Nanaimo Fish and Game Club.

A town hall meeting will explore the B.C. government’s controversial changes to hunting tag allocations.

The meeting, called by the B.C. Wildlife Federation, is one of a series of town hall gatherings happening across the province where resident hunters have protested the B.C. government’s proposal to give guide-outfitters a bigger share of permits to hunt moose, grizzly bear and other restricted animals.

Game hunting tags are awarded on a lottery basis among hunters who apply in B.C.’s restricted hunting areas, such as Vancouver Island, to protect wild stocks.

The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations issued a statement saying the latest allocation shift represents 618 “hunting opportunities” across the province or about 186 animals taken annually, based on hunt success rates.

The B.C. Wildlife Federation argues this latest shift in allocations means a dwindling harvest for resident hunters and that B.C. now reserves more restricted game for guide-outfitters and their out-of-province clients than anywhere in North America.

“It’s just totally unfair when you’re dealing with 102,000 hunters in British Columbia and somewhere in the neighbourhood of 250 guide outfitters,” said David Parenteau president of the B.C. Wildlife Federation Vancouver Island.

The issue has generated friction between the wildlife federation and the Guide Outfitters Association of B.C., which have never agreed on what tag allotments are considered fair, before or since the government enacted the split allocations policy in 2007.

Scott Ellis, association president, said the latest proposal tilts the balance in the association’s favour minimally, if at all.

“At the end of the day, does it really move the needle?” Ellis asks, “I keep telling people, ‘No. It doesn’t.’ I’ve been drawn for Roosevelt elk once since 1985. I got drawn once the first year I put in and I haven’t been drawn since. This decision gives 12 more Roosevelt elk to the guides on the Island.”

Parenteau said two Island MLAs, Scott Fraser, Alberni-Pacific Rim and Andrew Weaver, Oak Bay-Gordon Head, confirmed they plan to attend the meeting on Wednesday (Jan. 21), 7 p.m., at Nanaimo Fish and Game Protective Association on Nanaimo Lakes Road.

“All we’re asking for is let’s go back to those 2007 numbers,” Parenteau said. “It’s totally fair to everybody.”