The B.C. Wildlife Federation has asked provincial parties ahead of the October 24 provincial election to increase investment in fish and wildlife, and to respond to concerns around dwindling natural resources. In a press released in early-October, the BCWF said, "A lack of investment in wildlife management, combined with the impacts of resource extraction and a growing human population has severely reduced a number of species and is jeopardizing the future of B.C.’s natural legacy."
Wildlife activists and stakeholders want to see the provincial government take a more active approach in addressing these issues.
“Now is the time to invest, conserve, protect and restore our landscapes and wildlife to stabilize and restore what makes British Columbia special. This requires a commitment from the Province to re-establish British Columbia as a world leader in fish, wildlife and habitat management,” said Jesse Zeman, B.C. Wildlife Federation Director of Fish and Wildlife Restoration Program.
There are several issues of concern for the Peace Region specifically that hunters would like to see addressed.
While moose populations remain stable in some segments of the region, they are declining in others. Gerry Paille, the regional BCWF president and chair of the federation's Wildlife and Allocations Committee, said "Moose is a really large concern for resident hunters who want to fill their freezers, for guide outfitters and for First Nations, and we don’t see a lot of on the ground work being done to help recover moose populations."
One method to support the moose population that has fallen by the wayside in the past five years is prescribed fire, or prescribed burning. Prescribed fire is a way to rehabilitate the landscape for more growth, and increasing the nutriotional quality and amount of forage for the moose. Paille acknowledged that lighting prescribed fires in close proximity to caribou populations is problematic, but would like to see the method used more often.
"The government is relying on stakeholders and third parties to put these proposals forward, and we're having a hard time getting these proposals accepted," Paille.
This highlights an underlying issue that's seen recent governments take more of a backseat overall when it comes to both the funding and implentation of wildlife initiatives, and is putting more of the onus on non-profit groups to raise the money and make these things happen.
"The North Peace Rod and Gun Club, the Wild Sheep Society, guide outfitters, and the Northeast BC Wildlife Fund in Fort Nelson, have been putting money into wildlife related projects and holding fundraisers, because the government isn’t living up to their responsibilities," Paille said. "We don't mind chipping in, but we are paying a significant portion of the cost for what we think are core government responsibilities."
The BCWF put forth questions regarding these and other issues to each of the parties, and the answers can be found here.
"Without providing many details, I think the BC Liberals' platform addresses quite a few of our concerns, and so does the (Conservative Party of British Columbia's). It seems that the NDP have removed any language around wildlife and habitat from their current platform, and you can see (the BCWF) was pretty critical with how they did in meeting what they said they would in their previous platform," said Paille.
Another issue Paille mentioned was the closing of the Charlie Lake Provincial Park boat lauch, at the campground. It was closed, and never replaced or repaired, because government funding was not available.
"It was a popular place for sure, and not having one there puts more pressure on the other two or three existing boat launches," Paille said.
Email sports reporter Dillon Giancola at email@example.com.