Decision Date: January 6, 2012
Panel: David H. Searle, CM, QC
Keywords: Wildlife Act – s. 19; Permit Regulation – ss. 2(c)(iii), 5(1)(b); permit; predator control; livestock
Kyle Lay appealed a decision issued by the Regional Wildlife Manager, Cariboo Region, Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, refusing to renew a permit that was issued to Mr. Lay in 2010 under section 2(c)(iii) of the Permit Regulation. The permit had allowed Mr. Lay to “shoot, trap, snare, hunt with dogs, haze, live capture, or use aversive conditioning on grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, cougars, and coyotes, that have been verified as either killing or harassing livestock” in a specified portion of the Cariboo Region.
Mr. Lay operates a company that specializes in the control and capture of large predators that are harassing or killing livestock. His clientele includes livestock producers and members of the general public that keep livestock. The permit allowed him to use methods of predator control that are otherwise prohibited under the Wildlife Act and its regulations. The permit contained conditions regarding the investigation and confirmation of alleged livestock predation, including a requirement to contact local Conservation Officers and notify the Regional Wildlife Manager if he intends to respond. The permit also set out reporting requirements, and limitations on the methods of predator control. When the permit was issued, and for some time before that, the policy of the Conservation Officer Service was not to respond to complaints involving losses of livestock unless there was also a possibility of personal injury, which was unlikely in cases of wolf or coyote predation. Mr. Lay’s expertise in the control of wolf predation was recognized, and there was no dispute about the need for the permit when it was originally issued in 2010.
However, when Mr. Lay applied for renewal in 2011, the Regional Wildlife Manager was of the view that the permit was no longer needed, because the law and policy had changed, and the permit was no longer in the public interest. Specifically, the Conservation Officer Service began responding to all wildlife predation of livestock, and there was a relaxation of previous restrictions on hunting and trapping wolves and coyotes. The Regional Wildlife Manager argued that, with his regular hunting and trapping licences, Mr. Lay could do everything that the permit allowed him to do.
Mr. Lay submitted that renewal of the permit is not contrary to the proper management of wildlife resources, and he requested that the Board reverse the Regional Wildlife Manager’s decision and order the issuance of a 3-year permit. He also requested that the definition of “livestock” in the permit be expanded to include llamas and alpacas. In support of Mr. Lay’s submissions, several witnesses, testified as to the need for and effectiveness of Mr. Lay’s services, and the ineffectiveness of the Conservation Officer Service, in dealing with predation of livestock. Their testimony in that regard was unchallenged in cross-examination or through rebuttal evidence.
The Board found that there were still legal limitations on the regular hunting and trapping of wolves, coyotes, bears and cougars, and therefore, Mr. Lay’s ability to address livestock predation problems would be limited if he had to rely on his regular hunting and trapping licences in the absence of the permit. In addition, based on the evidence, the Board found that there is a clear need for Mr. Lay’s services, as a safe, effective and professional method of dealing with problem predators, and as an alternative to the Conservation Officer Service while it develops expertise in predator control. Also, there was no evidence that the permit was contrary to the proper management of wildlife resources. Consequently, the Board sent the matter back to the Regional Wildlife Manager with directions to issue a new permit with a 3-year term, with certain conditions.
Accordingly, the Board allowed the appeal.