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Posted: January 26, 2020

We demand a full accounting for big game failure

Letter to the Editor

The following is a copy of a letter sent to Premier John Horgan:

Over three decades ago the East Kootenay was referred to as “The Serengeti of the North” because our big game hunting for mountain goats, elk, deer, bighorn sheep and grizzly bears, before you banned hunting them, was world class.

However, another deplorable hunting season has just ended and while we wait for the ugly harvest and hunter success results to verify just how bad it was, we declared our Kootenays, “The Big Game Basket- Case of the North.” East and West. WE have searched for explanations for the demise of mountain caribou and declining ungulate populations and received sound advice from experienced big game researchers and former managers who were presenters at our Symposium in Cranbrook, on April 13, 2019. We will certainly consider some of their questions recommended for government, but we have some of our own that are equally important that must be addressed.

The Habitat Conservation Trust Fund [HCTF], initiated by hunters in the spring of 1979 here in Cranbrook, was founded to ensure that the basic needs of big game species would be addressed, but it became an adventure in habitat protection that has proven false, as not a single caribou, elk, moose or deer and bighorn sheep has been produced by the expenditure.

Why, after raising $181,000,000 since 1981 when the HCF was proclaimed, have any of the 2,400 projects, not at least maintained our game populations as expected?  We demand a full accounting for this failure.

Denying access to traditional areas by hunters, fishers, trappers and gatherers has been the rational for “environmental protection” resulting in the destruction of roads, bridges etc. – some that have been in use for decades, yet government continues to physically destroy much of it at great costs to taxpayers.  Why does this continue when it has been proven to be ineffective in “protecting the environment,” that has become a mantra so trite as to be meaningless and equally inutile in protection or multiplying game production and use? Why does this waste of time and money continue?

Norway has earned the right to be the undisputed, “Serengeti of the North,” not only for its geographical position, beginning at Latitude 60 degrees North, but because of the incredible big game hunting results they achieve and post on their government website, a month after the hunting season has ended.

Imagine their outstanding 2019 harvest results: 30,636 moose; 43,777 red deer [elk] and 4,733 wild reindeer [caribou}! Posting these results to compare with ours would be an embarrassment.

Norway is approximately one third the size of British Columbia, has 17% parks and protected areas.

Why can British Columbia no longer deliver respectable big game harvest numbers as it did in the past?

Carmen C. Purdy, Cranbrook,

President of The Kootenay Wildlife Heritage Fund; Past President The BC Wildlife Federation; and Past President The BC Conservation Foundation

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