Decision Date: February 16, 2011
Panel: David Searle
Keywords: Wildlife Act – ss. 51, 60; guide outfitter; quota; moose; mountain goat; mountain sheep; caribou
Ray Collingwood appealed a May 2010 decision of the Regional Manager (the “Manager”), Environmental Stewardship Division, Skeena Region, Ministry of Environment, to issue Mr. Collingwood an annual guide outfitter licence with certain annual quotas and multi-year allocations for certain species.
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 some 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 appeal.
Mr. Collingwood has operated a guiding business for many years in a 3,600 square mile territory within Spatsizi Provincial Park. In his appeal, he disputed his quotas and allocations for moose, mountain goat, mountain sheep and caribou. His two-year (2010 to 2012) allocations were: 43 moose; 7 mountain goat; 15 mountain sheep; and 38 caribou. In all cases, his quotas and allocations were reduced, but his main concern was the reduction in his mountain goat quota and allocation, because it would have a significant financial effect on his business.
Mr. Collingwood requested that the Board reverse the Manager’s decision and return his quotas and allocations to their previous levels. Specifically, he requested the following increases his two-year allocations: 48 moose; 12 mountain goat; 16 mountain sheep; and 40 caribou. He also requested a delay in implementing the new harvest allocation policy until 2017, an independent review of the quota reduction, and a consultation process with the Ministry that includes individual guide outfitters.
Mr. Collingwood provided evidence regarding the nature of his guiding operations, and the impacts of the Manager’s decision on his guiding operations. He also provided expert evidence from Dr. D.F. Hatler regarding flaws in the Ministry’s models for estimating big game populations in Mr. Collingwood’s guide territory. Dr. Hatler testified that, for all species of interest, the population estimates were extrapolations from other areas or outdated population surveys, and their applicability to the current situation was unsupported.
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 big game populations for the Region, and applied models and calculations to determine species quotas and allocations. In response to Dr. Hatler’s evidence, the wildlife biologist acknowledged that he used “soft” and “stale dated” information when estimating populations of the species of interest, and he agreed with Dr. Hatler’s recommendations regarding an alternative approach that could address Mr. Collingwood’s concerns will also addressing resident hunters’ interests.
The Board held that it could only consider the first remedy sought by Mr. Collingwood; namely, whether the Manager’s decision with respect to Mr. Collingwood’s quotas and allocations should be reversed. The Board found that the other remedies he sought were outside of the Board’s jurisdiction.
The Board considered the evidence regarding the processes used to calculate species populations, quotas and allocations in the Region. The Board held that, if science had supported the Ministry’s population estimates for Mr. Collingwood’s territory, the Board would have confirmed the Manager’s quotas and allocations. However, since the Ministry’s wildlife biologist admitted that the science used to estimate species populations in the territory was “soft” and “stale dated”, and he agreed with Dr. Halter’s recommendations, the Board found that it was appropriate to vary the Manager’s decision by granting Mr. Collingwood’s requested quotas for the 2011/2012 season, which were half of the two-year allocations he sought; specifically: 24 moose, 6 mountain goat, 8 mountain sheep, and 20 caribou. The Board decided not to vary the Manager’s decision in relation to the 2010/2011 because that season was almost over. The Board also recommended that the Manager take certain steps, as suggested by Dr. Hatler, to better address the interests of Mr. Collingwood and resident hunters in the territory.
Accordingly, the appeal was allowed.