Resident hunter protest sparks changes

Minister Steve Thomson makes "slight revision" to hunter allocation for Roosevelt elk, moose, bison, bighorn sheep and grizzly bears

Bighorn sheep in the Kootenays are among the restricted hunting species in dispute between resident hunters and guide outfitters.

The B.C. government has adjusted its plan to give guide-outfitters and their non-resident clients a greater share of big-game hunting permits, after protests from resident hunters around the province.

When the plan was announced in December, the government calculated that it represented a shift of 168 animals in limited-entry hunt areas from resident hunters to guide outfitters. After listening to the protests, Forests Minister Steve Thomson announced Friday that is being adjusted to a shift of about 60 animals to guide-outfitters.

The changes affect bull elk and either-sex elk permits on Vancouver Island, moose in the Thompson and Omineca regions, bison in the Peace region and bighorn sheep and grizzly bear in the Kootenays.

“I made slight revisions to the hunts for moose, bighorn sheep, grizzly¬†bear, Roosevelt elk and bison to address the concerns I heard after the decision was released,” Thomson said.

There are 34 limited-entry hunts in the province that are divided between resident hunters and guide outfitters, who typically guide clients from the U.S. and Europe. Resident hunters enter a regional lottery for the available opportunities.

Allocated hunting opportunities represent about eight per cent of the 45,700 big-game animals taken by hunters each year in B.C. In most areas, hunters can purchase a tag for each species that has an open season.

Thomson announced the policy change after more than 10 years of consultation with guide outfitters and the B.C. Wildlife Federation and local rod and gun clubs that represent resident hunters.

He defended the shift to assist guide outfitters as a trade-off that prevented them from using unoccupied guide territories around the province. Those areas are now left to resident hunters