Decision Date: April 27, 2004
Panel: Alan Andison
Keywords: Wildlife Act – ss. 48, 51, 60(1); guide outfitter licence; quota; mountain goats; population estimates, transfer of unused resident hunting opportunities
The Appellants brought separate appeals of the decisions of the Regional Manager issuing to them, with the exception of Mr. Lightburn, three-year allocations for mountain goats that were lower than in the prior allocation period. Mr. Lightburn was issued an allocation equal to that in the prior period. All of the Appellants sought a restoration of their allocations to the prior level, except Mr. Gregori and Mr. Lightburn, who sought allocations that were greater than in the prior period. The Board heard the appeals together.
All of the Appellants submitted that the Ministry’s allocation decisions were founded on inventories of the mountain goat population in the Kootenay region that were incomplete and out of date. All Appellants further submitted that an increase in their allocation was justified on the basis that goat populations had increased in their own guiding areas, and that the Regional Manager should apply the Ministry policy which allows the Regional Manager to transfer hunting opportunities from resident to non-resident hunters when the former group has not taken its allowable harvest for three successive years.
A number of the Appellants submitted that the Regional Manager relied on the scientific analysis of a Ministry biologist who was not sufficiently experienced to advise on the mountain goat allocations. The same Appellants also submitted that the Regional Manager had failed to take into account their own knowledge of mountain goat populations in their guiding territory.
The Board found that, with the exception of Mr. Fontana and Mr. Wolfenden, the Appellants did not provide sufficient evidence to justify an increase in their allocations.
The Board found that the Ministry biologist was sufficiently experienced to conduct the scientific work associated with setting the allocations, and that the Regional Manager acted reasonably in relying on this work. The Board further found that, with the exception of the population estimates for Mr. Fontana’s and Mr. Wolfenden’s guiding territories, the information used by the Regional Manager was the best available at the time and provided a reasonable basis for his allocation decisions.
With regard to Mr. Fontana and Mr. Wolfenden, the Board found that the Ministry’s estimates of the mountain goat population in their guide areas were not based on the best available data. In these cases, the Board found that Mr. Fontana and Mr. Wolfenden’s observations of the number of goats in their territories were credible and more accurate than the Ministry’s estimates. The Board found that the evidence presented by Mr. Fontana and Mr. Wolfenden justified a restoration of their three-year allocations to the prior levels.
The Board accepted the Ministry’s evidence of a general decline in the region’s mountain goat population since 1994. The Board found it was reasonable for the Regional Manager not to apply the transfer policy in those circumstances, and further found that application of the policy without considering regional population trends may be contrary to the Ministry’s objective of conserving the mountain goat population and managing the resource for the benefit of guide outfitters and other stakeholders.
The Board allowed the appeals of Mr. Fontana and Mr. Wolfenden and dismissed the appeals of Messrs. Gregori, Leuenberger, Lightburn, Leuenberger, and of Ms. Faiers.