Topics of Interest

Sheep on LEH: GOABC tries to throw resident hunters under the bus

The Guide-outfitters Association of BC (GOABC) has requested that the government put all resident sheep hunting opportunities across the Province on LEH (a draw system) or remove all guide-outfitter quotas.  This move could put sheep populations at serious risk or it would throw resident hunters under the bus.  Either way this is the latest attack on resident hunting opportunity and priority in BC.

A paper released by GOABC in January which was never to be seen beyond bureaucrats in Victoria or MLAs states: “If there is a conservation concern or a need to control the harvest then guides should be on quotas and the recreational hunters should be on Limited Entry Hunting (LEH), and vice versa.”  GOABC considers this fair.

Currently there are several hunts where outfitters are on quotas and resident are on GOS and for good reason.  No guide-outfitter quotas was tried up until the 70s with devastating results.  In the Peace non-resident hunters were harvesting up to 86% of the sheep and putting sheep herd health at risk resulting in LEH in one area.

As a result RAMS (Resident Action for Mountain Sheep) was formed and it was only after a long and hard fought battle that outfitter quota and compulsory inspection was put in place to bring non-resident harvest down.

The driving force behind quota was a major over-harvest by non-residents, thus creating a conservation concern.  Removing guide-outfitter quota is not a place resident hunters want to go back to.

In the eyes of a resident hunter it is difficult to see fairness in any of this.  Sheep hunting in BC has a checkered past where residents have been treated like second class citizens in their Province.  Historically B.C. resident hunters never harvest even half of the total annual harvest.  The Province’s own Wildlife Allocation Policy states that resident hunters are entitled to a very minimum of 60% of the harvestable surplus for sheep.  Historically non-resident hunter success is around 60% while resident hunter success is only around 14%.  Guide-outfitters have horses, aircraft, time and money that assure them a huge advantage over resident hunters.

Until 2007 guided non-resident hunters were allocated 77% of the annual allowable harvest in the Peace-Liard Region.  During that same period resident hunters were restricted to harvest rules of 1 ram every 3 years because there was not enough of a harvestable surplus after non-residents took their harvest.  That restriction has since been removed; guide-outfitter quotas have been trimmed back accordingly and resident harvest has increased.

In the Skeena region resident hunters have averaged less than 40% of the total sheep harvest since 1981, nowhere near the guaranteed minimum of 60%.  In the Skeena the quota system rewards outfitters if their non-resident clients harvest rams in excess of 8 years of age.  Currently outfitters in the Skeena harvest less than half of their quota on 14 day hunts that fetch as much as $30,000 US.  If outfitters had the sheep they’d be harvesting them – it’s clear outfitters have been allocated sheep that don’t exist and they’ve been harvesting the residents share.  Is it any wonder why residents do not harvest any more than 40% of the sheep?

Why would resident hunters in BC be placed on LEH if they don’t even harvest half of the sheep in BC?

If anything happens, regulations need to be changed in favour of resident hunters.  Access restrictions removed or a resident only hunting season should be enacted.

Sheep hunters in BC have been treated as second class citizens in favour of non-resident hunters for too long.  GOABC’s paper released in January only further reinforces that GOABC believes resident hunters are no more than vagrants who should be placed on restrictive regulations so they cannot compromise the quality of non-resident hunters experience or harvest wildlife in their own Province.

GOABC is going to your MLAs and trying to have your hunting opportunities cut.  They don’t want to see you out hunting.  Pick up a pen, a paper and write your MLA and the Minister on Environment.  Tell them you want change and tell them you want to be treated like a resident in your own Province.  Ask for a response.

Change is coming – it’s up to you to make sure it benefits people who live in BC first.

Comments are closed.