Decision Date: February 16, 2011
Panel: David Searle
Keywords: Wildlife Act – ss. 51, 60; guide outfitter; quota; moose
Ron Fitch, Robert Cork, Sonny Perkinson, Gary Blackwell, and Mark Ranniger filed separate appeals of their respective annual quotas and two-year allocations for moose. The quotas and allocations were determined by the Regional Manager (the “Manager”), Environmental Stewardship Division, Skeena Region, Ministry of Environment, and were issued as part of the Appellants’ respective annual guide outfitter licences.
Each Appellant is a guide outfitter operating in a specific territory within the Skeena Region. Under the Wildlife Act, non-resident hunters may hunt for big game only if guided by a licensed guide outfitter, and only within the territory in which the guide is permitted to operate. Section 60 of the Act authorizes managers to issue species quotas to guide outfitters as a condition of their annual guide outfitter licence. In addition, managers issue species allocations that cover multi-year periods. The quotas and allocations limit the number of each species that may be harvested by the guides’ clients over the period specified. The multi-year allocations allow a guide to exceed the annual quota by a set number, but that number then counts against the multi-year allocation. The multi-year allocations give guide outfitters flexibility in their annual harvests, and are used for harvest planning purposes. In 2007, the province adopted a new harvest allocation policy which, in subsequent years, led to reduced annual quotas and multi-year allocations for some guide outfitters. In part, it was the Manager’s application of that policy that led to the appeals.
Each Appellant requested that the Board reverse the Manager’s decision and return their moose quotas and allocations to their previous levels.
The Board heard the appeals together due to the similar issues raised and remedies sought by the Appellants. Mr. Ranniger failed to appear at the hearing, and the Board dismissed his appeal. Each of the remaining Appellants provided evidence regarding the nature of their guiding operations, and the impacts of the Manager’s decision on their operations.
The Manager submitted that the quotas and allocations should be confirmed. In support of the Manager’s submissions, the Ministry’s wildlife biologist for the Skeena Region explained how he estimated moose populations within the guides’ territories, and applied models and calculations to determine each guide’s quota and allocation.
The Board considered the evidence in relation to each Appellant. The Board found that Mr. Fitch never came close to reaching his previous annual quota of 30 moose during the past six years, and he did not book more than 16 clients for moose hunts in the past three years. The Board concluded that there was no evidence that the Manager’s decision to reduce Mr. Fitch’s two-year moose allocation to 48 (24 annually) would cause him any hardship.
The Board also found that Mr. Cork did not come close to reaching his previous annual quota of 15 moose during the past five years. However, the Board found that allowing Mr. Cork’s two-year allocation to remain at 30 (15 per year), instead of the Manager’s decision to reduce it to 24 (12 per year), would not adversely affect conservation objectives or resident hunters’ interests, because his territory is inaccessible by road and few resident hunters seek to hunt there. For those reasons, the Board sent the matter back to the Manager with directions to increase Mr. Cork’s two-year allocation and annual quota.
Regarding Mr. Perkinson, the Board found that the Manager’s decision to reduce his two-year moose allocation to 46 (23 per year) from 29 per year would result in little hardship, given his clients’ low success rates in their hunts and his failure to reach his previous quota during all but one of the past five years.
In contrast, the Board found that Mr. Blackwell’s clients had high success rates in their moose hunts, and he almost reached his previous quota of 27 moose in each of the past seven years. The Board found, therefore, that the Manager’s decision to reduce Mr. Blackwell’s two-year allocation to 43 moose (21.5 per year) would negatively affect his business. The Board also received evidence that Mr. Lewis, another guide operating in the same area as Mr. Blackwell, does not use his moose quota. Consequently, the Board sent the matter back to the Manager with directions to consider ways to address Mr. Blackwell’s concerns, including the possibility of re-allocating moose from Mr. Lewis to Mr. Blackwell.
Accordingly, the Board dismissed the appeals of Mr. Ranniger, Mr. Fitch, and Mr. Perkinson, and allowed the appeals of Mr. Cork and Mr. Blackwell.