The head of Pemberton's Wildlife Association (PWA) is speaking out against recent changes to the way hunting permits are allocated.
Losing any number of hunting opportunities will have an impact, said Allen McEwen, an avid hunter and president of the PWA.
"The limited entry hunts that we're talking about here are already very much over prescribed, so it's quite typical to have odds of 20 and 30 to one if not more," McEwen said. "So there's a lot of hunters that aren't getting permits to hunt already. Changing the policy so there's even more is something that obviously we're not going to be tolerating."
In December, minister of forests Steve Thomson announced changes to wildlife harvest allocation in the province, giving a larger share of the split to commercial guide outfitters.
The BC Wildlife Federation (BCWF) took offense to the changes, saying they hurt resident hunters. A petition to reverse the changes has been started at www.bcwf.bc.ca. It asks Minister Thomson to rescind the changes to allocation and revert to those specified in the 2007 Wildlife Allocation Policy.
"The guided outfitters have a vested interest in this debate obviously, and I think it's safe to say that they've lobbied the government very hard over the last seven years to try and get that 2007 policy changed," McEwen said. "I have a great respect for what the guide outfitters do in the woods. They're good at what they do, but clearly, in my opinion, the resident priority must be emphasized."
And while sustaining wildlife populations is the most important thing, McEwen said it's easy to see why resident hunters aren't happy with the new allocations.
"The reason that those hunts are put on limited entry is to ensure that the wildlife population is maintained... that's the whole bottom line," he said. "So if a species is on limited entry, so be it. But we have to put our names in a draw and hope we get drawn. Reducing our odds is not something that people take lightly."
But Scott Ellis, executive director of the Guide Outfitters Association of BC, says the outrage has been blown out of proportion.
"The BC Wildlife Federation... seems to think that it's the end of hunting for the average resident hunter," Ellis said. "(The Ministry) came up with, I think, very fair allocations... some of them are up a little bit, some of them are down a little bit, so I don't quite understand BCWF. I don't understand their position."
The changes in allocation vary based on region and species. According to the Ministry, the new model represents a transfer of approximately 186 animals from residents to guides.
The new resident/guide split can be found at www.env.gov.bc.ca/fw/wildlife/harvest_alloc.
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