LETTER: Deer populations suffer despite what Ministry says
Last July the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources announced that the province’s wildlife populations are healthy.
The Ministry’s statement is a perfect example of what happens when governments turn their back on transparency and accountability. After all, any attempt at due diligence will quickly reveal that many wildlife populations in the province are in steep decline.
Both the Clark NDP and Campbell Liberals demanded that the wildlife resource make a greater contribution to general revenue to help pay for the province’s growing debt. Both governments especially the Liberals naively and irresponsibly believed the answer was to listen to the BC Wildlife Federation; the parent organization of most of the province’s hunting and fishing clubs.
The BC Wildlife Federation had one loud clear answer- more hunting opportunity. That point is made loud and clear on the top left corner of the 2nd page of the current Hunting Regulations.
The Boundary deer herd, the largest deer herd in our province for decades is in a death spiral, a point easily made by anyone traveling the Boundary and talking to hunters and landowners. It is truly hard to believe that you can travel for days and not see a deer or deer track on their historic range. The only exception is private property- out of bounds to hunters; the City of Grand Forks and adjacent Regional District and the large fields north of Rock Creek.
The magnitude of their outrageous violation of public trust that has seriously compromised the whitetail and mule deer populations indefinitely is revealed if you quickly scan “The Boundary Deer Herd” by Biologist, Dave Spalding 1968 which you can easily find on the internet. Spalding claims that in 1966 6000 hunters were harvesting over 4000 deer.
During the 1986 Social Credit Party Leadership one of our favorite Socreds, Stephen Rogers told me that when he was the minister of Environment in the early 80s he asked his staff “Why do we not manage wild sheep for their ability to generate revenue”.
Now it is a fact that a wild sheep hunt is by far and away the largest per diem rate in the tourist industry but the real point of Stephen Roger’s message is that the only way to maximize revenue from the wildlife resource is to manage our wildlife resource and not hunters. Yes that includes wildlife habitat after all, that was the major reason the Boothman Ranch was purchased for $190,000.00 in 1972.
How is it possible that our biologist can find no statistical evidence that liberalized hunting seasons have decimated many wildlife populations when hunter success rate is in steep decline? Provincial government employees are between a rock and a hard place because they are forced to sign a contract that stipulates they must first and foremost defend government policy and policy implementation. As a consequence to-day the apt description of wildlife management in our province is best described by Mark Twain’s brilliant quote;”There are only lies, dam lies and statistics”.