Hunters gather in Kamloops; argue pending changes favour tourists

Local hunters taking aim at B.C. Liberal government’s proposed changes to hunting regulations

By Cam Fortems

Kamloops This Week

Local hunters are taking aim at the B.C. Liberal government’s proposed changes to hunting regulations, changes they say favour tourists over taxpayers.

The B.C. Wildlife Federation (BCWF) and the Kamloops Fish and Game Association are holding a forum on Thursday, Jan. 29, at 7 p.m. at the Coast Kamloops Hotel and Conference Centre to rally opposition to the proposed changes.

Federation member and local organizer Verne Sundstrom said he expects hunters to come from Kamloops, Chase and Salmon Arm to hear details on the BCWF’s position.

The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resoruce Operations proposes reallocating about 600 limited-entry hunt (LEH) tags from resident hunters to non-resident hunters — tourists under care of guide outfitters.

LEH tags give hunters the opportunity to hunt for highly managed game, including moose, elk and grizzly bear.

“For myself or my son, we go hunting for moose. We apply for LEH tags,” Sundstrom said, adding among his circle of 10 or so hunting friends, success in the lottery for LEH tags is slim.

“Over that time, we’ve got one drawn,” he said.

The reallocation would not affect general hunting opportunities.

Instead, it would adjust the ratio of resident hunters and guide outfitters for LEH opportunities, most of them in the North. There are six limited entry hunts (LEH) in the Kamloops region for cow and bull moose, mountain goat, grizzly bear, antlerless mule deer and the bighorn sheep.

However, Sundstrom said, hunters from the region travel across the province for the opportunity to hunt moose, for example.

The ministry estimates the proposed changes would give 186 animals to guide outfitters and their clients — the highest-spending tourists who visit the province.

But, Sundstrom said, based on an estimated 20 per cent success ratio for resident hunters, that equates to nearly 1,000 lost hunting opportunities for B.C. hunters.