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Posted: September 11, 2018

A voice for East Kootenay wildlife

By Doug Clovechok

Op-ed commentary

In response to the provincial government’s news release on the state of wildlife in the East Kootenay and the response issued by the East Kootenay Wildlife Association (EKWA):

The East Kootenay Wildlife Association is an important and strong voice for hunters in the East Kootenay. I am solidly behind them in their efforts to improve wildlife populations and habitat. As a lifelong hunter myself, I have seen first-hand that the current situation is unacceptable. I agree with the EKWA’s position that the government should “adopt a proper adaptive management framework” to ensure better correlation between data and the resulting policy implementation.

In order to reinstate healthy wildlife populations in B.C., we must make science-based decisions. The only way to do this is to remove politics from wildlife management. We need a stand-alone, non-partisan wildlife management agency, 100% funded by hunting licenses and tag fees.

This independent agency would focus on policy changes, habitat issues, and balancing our predator population. Our wildlife managers need a platform to say out loud what they already say privately – there are too many predators. The BC Liberal Party, had it formed government, had committed to establishing this independent agency.

Ungulate populations are declining due to many other complex factors including habitat infringement (roads, building locations, accidents with fences/ fires/ vehicles), extreme seasonal weather, diseases/parasites, social tolerance in urban centres, and over-harvesting in regulated season.

Never assume that hunters are to blame for the declining number of ungulates. This over-simplified way of thinking is letting any government off the hook; blaming the loss of our elk on a single hunting policy is a cop-out. We used to have an abundant number of elk in the higher elevation backcountry; the low-elevation private land hunts can’t explain their disappearance from higher elevations.

I, share the EKWA’s views on this issue, but still maintain that a major factor in this issue is the number of predators in the backcountry. My constituents continue to speak of how many grizzlies, wolves, and cougars they are encountering in the backcountry.

These predators have played a large role in reducing our elk and deer populations. Our elk population will not be able to thrive unless we consider all angles of this issue.

Since the 1950s, no political party in this province has had the courage to take on the predator problem in the East Kootenay, despite the efforts from rural MLAs.

The current BC NDP policy demonstrates that they do not have the guts to call “a spade a spade.”

The predator population has been managed up, while, the ungulate population has been managed down. It has been easier to blame the hunters for the disappearance of our elk, but this strategy has proven ineffective. We need to be honest and say it out loud: we have too many bears, wolves, and cougars.

The most important thing that every hunter and non-hunter can do is to demand wildlife management in accordance with scientific principles (email to [email protected] , and [email protected]). Speak up to support predator reduction, revisiting policy for the low-elevation private land hunts, and establishing an independent non-partisan provincial wildlife agency.

Let’s put our wildlife before politics.

– Doug Clovechok
 (BC Liberal Party)  is Member of the Legislative Assembly for Columbia River – Revelstoke


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