British Columbia’s wildlife and habitat faces unprecedented and accelerating challenges due to climate change, increasing human activity and competing pressures on the land base. The status quo is resulting in the degradation and loss of habitat and declining wildlife populations. Recognizing that change is necessary, the province has recently released the Together For Wildlife Strategy as a proposed pathway for improved wildlife management and habitat conservation.
Within this strategy the government is committing to stewarding our provincial wildlife populations through the protection, conservation, restoration and recovery of wildlife and habitat and the enforced regulation of human activities.
BCBHA's Stakeholder Participation
BCBHA participated in the consultation process that produced the Together For Wildlife Strategy. Throughout the process we advocated for four key points necessary to achieve wildlife stewardship:
- Development of legislation that puts habitat conservation and wildlife management on the same footing as economic growth, development, and social issues.
- Clear policies and objectives for wildlife management and habitat conservation that are grounded in the best available science and the development of management plans that are guided by the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.
- Protection of provincial wildlife stewardship objectives from political cycles, trends, and social issues.
- Dedicated funding for wildlife management, habitat protection and data collection.
Our views were shared by many stakeholders. Some of what we advocated for made it into Together for Wildlife Strategy and some – in particular, the development of legislation focused on wildlife stewardship – did not.
The board of BCBHA recently submitted a letter outlining our thoughts on the proposed strategy. We urge our members to make sure their voices are heard as well.
British Columbians have until January 9, 2020 to comment on the Together for Wildlife Strategy by participating in the Strategy for Wildlife Questionnaire.
When completing the questionnaire, consider commenting on the following points:
Criteria for involvement on Provincial Minister’s Wildlife Advisory Council and Regional Wildlife Committees
The details of the Together for Wildlife Strategy and the goals and objectives for wildlife management and habitat conservation will be developed in the coming years through consultation with the Provincial Minister’s Wildlife Advisory Council and Regional Wildlife Committees. Because of the key role members of these groups will play in developing policy and setting objectives, those sitting on the Provincial Minister’s Wildlife Advisory Council and Regional Wildlife Committees should be familiar with the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation and recognize that that the most effective wildlife stewardship policies and objectives are grounded in the best available science.
Members of the Provincial Minister’s Wildlife Advisory Council and Regional Wildlife Committees must be committed to wildlife stewardship and not prejudiced by trend social issues or special interests. Both the Provincial Minister’s Wildlife Advisory Council and Regional Wildlife Committees will need rigorous Terms of Reference to guide participating stakeholders.
Improved Funding for Wildlife Stewardship
The Together for Wildlife strategy, and the policies and objectives that will be developed to fulfill this strategy, must be backed by appropriate funding that is both robust and secure.
Funds from user groups (including hunting and angling licenses, but also from consumptive and non-consumptive users of our public lands and wildlife) should be dedicated to wildlife stewardship and inaccessible to the provincial revenue pool.
Mandate the Provincial Minister’s Wildlife Advisory Council to explore additional sources of funds and funding models that can be leveraged to maximize resources available for wildlife stewardship.
Wildlife Stewardship Legislation
Habitat conservation and wildlife management must be considered equal to economic growth, development, and social issues in land use decisions if this strategy is to be a success. A review of the Wildlife Act is likely insufficient to elevate wildlife stewardship as a provincial priority. Urge the government to reconsider the development of specific legislation for habitat conservation and wildlife management.
Action 8 in the Together for Wildlife Strategy commits to the establishment of clear, measurable objectives for wildlife stewardship by 2021. These objectives should be grounded in the best available science and not compromised by political cycles or special interests. BCBHA would like to see measurable objectives developed that:
- Limit road and trail density
- Ensure habitat connectivity
- Maintain large, intact roadless areas
- Set wildlife population goals
Thank you for taking the time to safeguard British Columbia's wildlife and wild places by participating in the Strategy for Wildlife Questionnaire.