Twenty-three organizations and businesses have signed a letter to BC MLA’s denouncing plan for BC Wildlife Agency, but the province says there are no plans to privatize. Dean Stoltz reports.
A number of B.C. wildlife groups say bears and all wildlife in the province are at risk because of a government proposal to turn the management of wildlife over to a separate agency.
“This would be a catastrophe for wildlife in British Columbia.” Brian Falconer of the Raincoast Conservation Foundation said.
The Raincoast Conservation Foundation is one of 23 organizations worried about what they say is a government plan to turn over wildlife management in B.C. to a group made up of other organizations with interests in hunting.
As a result, they have written a letter to B.C. MLAs.
“It helps the government escape the political ramifications of wildlife decisions,” Falconer said. “My biggest concern is it puts it in the hands of those people who have a very strong vested interest in killing wildlife.”
“Well as a bear conservationist and as a British Columbian, I just really, really care that we look after all our animals not just bears.” Barb Murray of Bears Matter said.
The groups are referring to a press release from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources Operations stating that a new agency would be up and running by this fall.
However, Minister John Rustad said it will not be managing wildlife in BC.
“We have no plans whatsoever to divulge the regulatory authority and supportive policies,” Rustad said. “That will be retained within [the] government.”
He says the new model will improve information gathering and implementation of wildlife management activities and that the activities may indirectly lead back to government decision making.
The new model would also see fees from hunting licences support the new group, which opposing organizations say is a conflict of interest.
“I think that conflict of interest is so important that it would cloud any decisions made around wildlife management.” Falconer said.
The minister says the new agency would get about $9 million to $10 million a year from hunting licences.