B.C. Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson has announced a new wildlife management system the province will be re-investing all revenue from hunting licences into the enhancement of wildlife activities.

The government will form a new agency in the fall of 2017 with $5 million as start-up funds and will ultimately operate off of $9 to $10 million in hunting licence revenues. The BC Wildlife Federation congratulated the province on their commitment to wildlife; this new agency has been something the BCWF has been advocating for.

“The BC Wildlife Federation commends the Province for its commitment to dedicate hunting license revenues to a stand-alone agency to enhance wildlife management. The BCWF, on behalf of our 50,000 members, is pleased to have our call for greater investment in fish, wildlife and habitat realized through this investment, said BCWF president Jim Glaicar (in a press release statement).

The announcement has stirred up some strong opinions among the Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA candidates as they commented on the announcement.

I must say, I am proud of the BC Liberals for admitting they can’t handle wildlife management on their own! All joking aside, though, the concept is solid, said Independent candidate Justin Hooles. Hunting fees should have gone to wildlife management from the beginning, and having a non-partisan agency could remove some of the politics involved in decision-making.

Green Party candidate Samson Boyer said he’d like to see a focus on protecting endangered species and sustaining at-risk species.

As a hunter myself, I think it’s incredibly important that we support and ensure that there is plenty of wildlife for future generations. I also believe the government needs to increase funding for protecting our environment; we shouldn’t rely only on the hunting licences for funding, said Mr. Boyer.

NDP candidate Gerry Taft stated that the use of hunting licence revenues to support habitat and ecosystem restoration is solid, and was suggested by the BC NDP over a year ago.

The pre-election announcement regarding the creation of a new wildlife management agency is completely void of details and substance. This is a future initiative with no framework, and it is being announced on the eve of an election, said Mr. Taft.

As for Liberal candidate Doug Clovechok who has spent his life hunting, he stated he is proud to pass those values down to his kids and grandkids.

“Today marks a new beginning, and is an example of what we can accomplish when we all work together to grow wildlife populations, and ensure that local knowledge and experience forms the basis of wildlife management, said Mr. Clovechok.

The announcement of the new wildlife management system will increase the budget for wildlife management activities by 50 per cent. However, concerns are being raised that this new model could remove management responsibility from the government, making it harder for the public to hold the government accountable. Mr. Taft stated its been 16 years of mismanaged wildlife and lands under the BC Liberals.

We cant trust Christy Clark to fix all the problems that this government has caused over the last 16 years. And I think voters who care about wildlife management are smart enough to recognize that,” said Mr. Taft.

Mr. Hooles also raised questions around what happens if funding falls short, and if the agency would become a scapegoat if things go awry so the BC Liberals won’t have to take the heat.

When you make an announcement this soon before an election, it is extremely hard to know what effect it could have, and what the true motivation behind it may be, said Mr. Hooles, adding the government should also be suggesting new legislation to go along with the announcement.

The B.C. government will use $200,000 to support a process of engagement with wildlife stakeholders, First Nations, and the public to determine a governance model and investment priorities for the new agency.