A scathing criticism was issued today of a BC government plan to turn over management of wildlife to a hunter-funded agency. Twenty-three organizations and businesses involved with protecting wildlife (including The Fur-Bearers) sent an open letter to the government, which in part read:
“The wildlife of the province belongs to all British Columbians, and has by law been held by the government in trust, to conserve the wildlife, and to ensure the rights of all members of the public … That means that elected representatives can be held accountable for their wildlife decisions through general elections and in courts … A separate agency could not be held accountable by the public, and would be more susceptible to influence by special interest groups.”
The government claims it will improve wildlife funding by setting up the new agency to sell hunting licences and keep the fees. But the government has always had the ability to put the amount of revenue brought in by hunting fees into wildlife management; it does not need a separate agency to do so. When a non-government agency determines how many tags to sell and keeps the money to support its own operations, that is conflict of interest.
The organizations and businesses have urged the government to:
- Scrap the proposal for a separate agency;
- Increase the wildlife management staff and funding of government ministries;
- In recognition of BC’s biodiversity crisis, shift the focus of wildlife management from juggling numbers of game animals for hunters, to applying the science of ecology; and,
- Recognize that only about 2% of the total BC population are registered hunters, whereas a huge majority of British Columbians care about the welfare of our wildlife and ecosystems.
Read the full letter here, and please take a moment to contact your British Columbia MLA (click here to find them) as well as the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations (FLNR.Minister@gov.bc.ca), and the Office of the Premiere (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Wildlife should be managed by science, with the oversight of elected officials who are accountable to the public – and we need to make sure the government of British Columbia knows that.