Decision Date: September 10, 2014
Panel: Alan Andison
Keywords: Wildlife Act – s.60; guide outfitter; bull moose; mountain goat; grizzly bear; quota; allocation; policy application; no evidence
Tim Stephenson appealed the decision of the Regional Manager, Recreational Fisheries and Wildlife Program (the “Regional Manager”), Kootenay Boundary Region, Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (the “Ministry”), with respect to the quota and allocation of bull moose, mountain goats, and grizzly bears issued with his 2013-2014 guiding licence. Mr. Stephenson is a guide outfitter who operates Selkirk Big Game Outfitters (“SBGO”) in a guide territory located in the Kootenay Boundary Region of British Columbia. SBGO guides hunters who pay to take part in a hunt for particular species of wildlife.
Mr. Stephenson’s annual guide outfitter licences are issued with a one-year quota and a five-year allocation, which specify the maximum number of individuals of a specific wildlife species that Mr. Stephenson’s clients may kill within SBGO’s guiding territory.
The Regional Manager issued Mr. Stephenson’s guide outfitter licence for the 2013/2014 season with the following quotas and allocations: One-year quotas of three bull moose, two mountain goats, and two grizzly bears; and five-year allocations for 2012-2016 of five bull moose, seven mountain goats, and five grizzly bears.
Mr. Stephenson appealed the decision on the grounds that it was unfair and unreasonable. Mr. Stephenson submitted that the Regional Manager failed to follow and apply the Ministry’s harvest allocation policies and procedures, incorrectly determined the relevant populations of mountain goats, and failed to consider other appropriate factors.
Mr. Stephenson sought an order from the Board increasing his quotas and allocations in accordance with the Ministry’s policies and procedures. In the alternative, he requested that the matter be sent back to the Regional Manager with directions to increase his allocations and quotas.
The Regional Manager opposed the appeal, and provided detailed submissions in support of his decision. The Regional Manager set out the relevant policies and procedures and population estimates, and explained how they were applied in the decision making process.
The Board noted that, in an appeal, the Appellant has the ultimate burden of proving his or her case on a balance of probabilities. The Board found that Mr. Stephenson did not meet the burden of proof in this case as he provided no information, let alone evidence, to support his claim that the Regional Manager erred or to justify his other claims. The Board noted that it could dismiss Mr. Stephenson’s case on the basis of no evidence, but decided to review the Regional Manager’s decision-making process.
The Board found that there was no basis in law or fact to vary Mr. Stephenson’s quotas and, subject to a minor change in the bull moose allocation, the Board confirmed the five-year allocations. The Board found that there was a minor error in Mr. Stephenson’s bull moose allocation, and varied the allocation from five to six. The Board accepted the population determinations made by the Regional Manager, as Mr. Stephenson provided no evidence to refute these determinations.
Accordingly, the Regional Manager’s decision was upheld, with a variation to increase the five-year allocation for bull moose from five to six.