Topics of Interest

Moose Management Inequities In the Kootenay Region

During 1989 and 1990 moose calf recruitment in the Kootenay Region of BC fell to an all-time low and the Fish and Wildlife Branch started to think about putting moose on a Limited Entry Hunting (LEH) draw system

Up until 1990 non-resident interest in Kootenay moose was negligible but about this time the Safari Club International re-classified moose in southern BC and Alberta as Shiras Moose, despite very little biological evidence that supported the fact that moose in the Kootenay Region were actually of the Shiras sub-species.  However, this change generated some non-resident interest and moose suddenly became a marketable item for Kootenay Region guide-outfitters.

In 1991 LEH was announced and the allocation split, recognizing the previous low non-resident harvest, was set at 94% for residents and 6% for non-residents.  The LEH was initially announced as a temporary measure that would be eliminated when the population had recovered (yah right!). With the implementation of LEH resident moose hunting participation fell from 2500 to 500 hunters and the annual resident hunter harvest fell from 450 to 150 moose.  This is very similar to what occurred in many other parts of BC when LEH was implemented and Kootenay resident moose hunters today anxiously await an immature (spike-fork) bull season being proposed by MOE for 2009.

As non-resident interest increased the moose quota assigned to guide-outfitters was established at 15 moose divided amongst the outfitters of the Kootenay Region.   At that time three-year allocation periods were the norm and every three years guide-outfitters, resident hunters represented by the BCWF, and MOE met to negotiate the allocation percentages for the next three years.

In 2000 the MOE regional buearocracy allowed guide-outfitters in the Kootenay to stand down from allocation negotiations and to provide input directly to MOE, bypassing negotiations with residents.  That move, although very annoying to resident hunters, was a very successful and by 2003 moose quotas assigned to guide-outfitters by the MOE Region had risen from the previous 15 to 127 non-resident tags.  During the same period resident LEH authorizations for residents declined even though the moose population was making a significant recovery.

In 2004 negotiations on a new allocation policy and formula began.  It was eventually determined that too many moose were being allocated to non-residents and new allocation percentages were calculated and roll-backs to non-resident quota began in 2007.

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A Question Regarding the New Spike/fork Moose Season in the East Kootenay

Moose hunters in the Kootenay’s will have noticed by now that the new spike/fork moose season dates are Sept 20th to Oct 31st in the West Kootenay (where there are 3 guide-outfitters) and Oct 15th to Oct 31st in the East Kootenay (where there are over 30 guide-outfitters).

The proposal to have this hunt has been under discussion since early 2008 at the Kootenay Wildlife Harvest Regional Advisory Committee (KWHAC) level, at Rod and Gun clubs throughout the region, and was on the MOE “regulation change consultation” web site for public consultation in both 2008 and 2009.

On every occasion the proposal stated Sept 20th as starting date for the hunt, there was no suggestion of any different starting dates specific to the East Kootenay sub-region, nor was this ever discussed at the KWHAC level until the May 16th, 2009 meeting when it was placed on the KWHAC agenda for discussion.  The real problem with that is by May 16th the Region had already sent their regulation proposals to Victoria so the consultation with resident hunter representatives was a complete sham.  The decision had already been made, and completely without any resident hunter consultation.

The Southern Guide Outfitters (SGO) always opposed the spike/fork season at KWHAC and KWHAC members were informed that the proposal on the May 16th meeting agenda to delay the hunt opening date to Oct 15th came from the Southern guides.  The SGO representative admitted that resident moose hunters in the bush in September would compromise the quality of elk hunts they were conducting at that time.

The reasoning behind the delayed opening was stated officially on the May 16th KWHAC agenda as concern that the early moose hunt would result in increased incidental kill of elk and sheep.

Since when did we have a conservation concern for elk in the East Kootenay?  How much spatial overlap do you think there is between moose and bighorn sheep habitat, and would that even matter considering that the fact that resident hunters are only using about 65% of their bighorn sheep allocated harvest?  Why do other MOE regions in BC not consider either of these as valid concerns?

So it seems that this decision may have been made to benefit guide-outfitters and came at heavy cost to resident hunting opportunities, and, after consultation only with guide outfitters, since the only opportunity for resident hunters representatives on the KWHAC committee to provide input occurred well after MOE-Cranbrook had long since submitted their regulation change proposals to Victoria.

As resident hunters we should appreciate the new spike/fork moose hunting opportunity, but should take serious exception to being treated as second class citizens, to guide-outfitter priorities being placed ahead of those of resident hunters, and we should insist that MOE follow their own policy that states residents have priority to the resource. Call your MLA if you are concerned.

No Bull in the West Kootenay

Management units 4-38 and 4-39 in the West Kootenay have not been included in the immature bull moose season which was recently introduced in Region 4.  “

The question resident hunters need an answer to is, “Why?”

All of Region 4 went to Limited Entry Hunting in 1991, eliminating over 80% of resident hunters.  Since then moose populations have increased significantly: resident hunter opportunity has not.  Since the LEH was instituted, non-resident hunters have increased from 6 in 1991 to almost 90 hunters in 2006.  The non-resident share of the harvest went from 4% to more than 25% some years despite half of the entire region having no guide-outfitter territories.

In some MUs non-resident hunters harvest in excess of 50% of the total harvest.  This is another hunt where residents have been treated as second class citizens in their own Province.

MUs 4-38 and 4-39 are part of the Caribou Recovery area.  These two management units have some of the highest number of LEH authorizations in Region 4 for bulls and the ONLY cow/calf LEHs in the entire region.  The Ministry of Environment is purposely trying to keep the population low to aid Caribou recovery.  So why wouldn’t there be an immature bull moose hunt?

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