Backcountry Hunters and Anglers
c/o P.O. Box 10294, Airdrie, Alberta, T4A 0H6
August 23, 2017
Minister Shannon Phillips
Alberta Environment and Parks
208 Legislature Building
Re: Castle Provincial Park and Castle Wildland Park Game Retrieval Trails
Dear Minister Phillips:
As a follow up to our March 10, 2017 letter, as well as specific recommendations made in a
subsequent letter to the Parks planners on April 11, 2017, the Alberta Backcountry Hunters &
Anglers (Alberta BHA) would like to request that the Cabinet consider not permitting any trails,
designated or otherwise, for game retrieval in the Castle Provincial Parks.
Currently, in the draft management plan, under section 6.7, there is an allowance for the
retrieval of game, via off-highway vehicles (OHV), on designated trails. We do not support this,
as allowing any trail to remain open to OHV use, regardless of intent, sets the precedent for any
other land-use plans for the Eastern Slopes. This is a loophole that we are convinced will lead
to exploitation by those who do not have conservation or wildlife habitat protection as their
It is our viewpoint that, in allowing these trails to remain open, the following questions will
• How will these game retrieval trails be managed?
• How will enforcement be done, given the historical challenge of trail enforcement
currently in place?
• What makes a trail suitable for game retrieval?
• How will this achieve the goal of reducing the OHV footprint within Castle?
• How will this meet environmental/wildlife habitat concerns?
• A precedent will now be set for other land planning activities. How will this be
We understand that arguments will be made that game retrieval is near-impossible, without
the use of motorized vehicles. However, this argument holds very little water, when compared
to the fact that tens of thousands of hunters currently retrieve their game (including large
game, ie. elk and moose) on foot, pedal bike, horses, etc... across North America, and in some
very challenging circumstances. Since the human species started hunting, it has always been
done on foot, and without damaging the very habitat that this renewable natural resource
Other arguments will be made that it is now dangerous to harvest game in the back country,
due to opportunistic animals and/or predators. This, again, is a fallacy, as hunters, since time
immemorial, have managed to put their harvested quarry out of the reach of
predators/opportunists, until it can be retrieved.
Economic benefits to eliminating the use of OHVs for game retrieval do exist. Those hunters,
who are unable/unwilling to retrieve their game under their own power, can utilize outfitters to
assist. This is a practice already well-established across North America, and would provide
direct benefit to those outfitters in the regions.
We note that private conservation organizations in Alberta such as the Nature Conservancy of
Canada, Alberta Conservation Association, Alberta Fish and Game Association, and Ducks
Unlimited Canada already prohibit the use of motorized OHVs on their private land holdings,
specifically to prevent landscape damage and protect fish and wildlife habitats. Prohibiting
their use in retrieving game is consistent with this established practice. Why should it be
different for Castle (and by extension, the Eastern Slopes)?
We would welcome the opportunity to meet with you and your staff to discuss this further, as
this is something that the Alberta Backcountry Hunters & Anglers believes has the potential to
circumvent the positive steps being made within the Castle region.
Neil Keown, Chair, Alberta Backcountry Hunters and Anglers
cc. Premier Rachel Notley
cc. Deputy Minister Andrew Corbould
cc. Assistant Deputy Minister Steve Donelon