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Posted: May 14, 2021

Dire situation leads to new coalition calling for change

A new province-wide coalition is calling on the government to re-establish the province as a world leader in fish, wildlife, and habitat management.

The Fish, Wildlife, and Habitat Coalition, with East Kootenay representation, represents a diverse array of interests that all share common concerns about the decline of fish, wildlife, and habitat including environmental and conservation organizations, hunting and angling guides, wildlife viewing, ecotourism, naturalists, hunters, anglers, and trappers.

Together, the group is seeking a commitment from the province to invest in healthy landscapes, waters, and fish and wildlife stewardship, in partnership with First Nations and communities. The Fish, Wildlife, and Habitat Coalition recognizes and respects the constitutionally protected rights of Indigenous peoples and the collective commitment to advancing reconciliation.

The Fish, Wildlife, and Habitat Coalition will work to promote solutions guided by science and Traditional Ecological Knowledge for improved management of species and habitat in B.C. These will include:

  • Creating legislation that protects fish, wildlife, and habitat;
  • Integrating the needs of fish, wildlife, and habitat into new and existing legislation;
  • Increasing funding and creating a new governance model for fish, wildlife, and habitat management.

By championing solutions for conservation including management, restoration, and protection, the Coalition aims to help B.C. strengthen its communities and economy. These outcomes will be based on healthy and resilient ecosystems and abundant fish and wildlife with self-sustaining populations.

John Bergenske, Wildsight Conservation Director

“I am happy to work together with this broad-based coalition for the future of fish and wildlife in British Columbia. Wildlife is in crisis across the province after years of government legislation and practices that prioritize resource extraction. It will take all of us to make sure fish, wildlife and habitat become a provincial priority in natural resource decisions and funding,” stated John Bergenske, Conservation Director for Wildsight.

“The cumulative effects on biodiversity and ecosystems throughout the province have taken their toll and there is a crisis situation facing fish, wildlife and habitat in the province. Serious changes are needed in current practices and legislation if we want sustainable populations of fish, wildlife and the habitat to support them. This diverse group of organizations have set aside any differences they may have to focus attention on this common concern. I am optimistic that this group will raise awareness and work together to influence positive changes, said Alan Duffy, Chair of the British Columbia Backcountry Hunters and Anglers.

A wide variety of often adversarial groups from across the province that share a common interest in fish and wildlife ecology are requesting that the Government place a higher value on fish, wildlife and habitat. The “FWH Coalition” represents the urgency for the government to make change to address the steep decline of wildlife populations. Our fish and wildlife resource requires funding, balanced landscape planning and regional on the ground projects to support habitat management. If we want to hunt or trap, we need sustainable populations, good habitat and evidence-based landscape planning,” added Jim Turner, President of the United Bowhunters of BC.

The Fish, Wildlife and Habitat Coalition includes partners from 25 organizations, representing a total of more than 273,000 British Columbians and more than 900 businesses across B.C.

Fish, Wildlife and Habitat Coalition members include:

Backcountry Hunters and Anglers British Columbia

BC Federation of Fly Fishers

BC Fishing Tourism Association

BC Trappers Association

B.C. Wildlife Federation

Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society – BC Chapter

Fraser Valley Angling Guides Association

Fraser Valley Salmon Society

Georgia Strait Alliance

Commercial Bear Viewing Association of BC

Coast to Cascades Grizzly Bear Initiative

British Columbia Federation of Drift Fishers

Ducks Unlimited Canada

Guide Outfitters Association of British Columbia

Outdoor Recreation Council of BC

Hunters for BC – SCI

The Steelhead Society of BC

Traditional Bowhunters British Columbia

United Bowhunters

Watershed Watch Salmon Society

Wild Sheep Society of British Columbia

Wilderness Tourism Association of BC

Wildsight

Wildlife Stewardship Council

Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative.

e-KNOW file photos

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