Decision Date: July 17, 2014
Panel: Alan Andison
Keywords: Wildlife Act – s.60; guide outfitter; bighorn sheep; grizzly bear; quota; allocation; policy application; population estimates
Robert J. Cutts appealed a 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 annual quota and five-year allocation of bighorn sheep and grizzly bears issued with his 2013-2014 guiding licence. Mr. Cutts is a guide outfitter who operates Sheep Mountain Outfitters in a guide territory located in the Kootenay Boundary Region of British Columbia. Sheep Mountain Outfitters guides hunters who pay to take part in a hunt for particular species of wildlife.
Mr. Cutts’ 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. Cutts’ clients may kill within each of his guiding territories.
In a decision dated January 24, 2013, the Regional Manager issued Mr. Cutts’ guide outfitter licence for the 2013/2014 season with the following quotas and five-year allocations: one-year quotas of three bull moose, one big horn sheep, one mountain goat, and zero grizzly bear; and, five-year allocations for 2012-2016 of nine bull moose, two bighorn sheep, one mountain goat, and zero grizzly bear. The Regional Manager provided Mr. Cutts with a brief explanation that the reductions in his five-year allocations from previous allocation periods were the result of Ministry’s full implementation of policies and procedures that it introduced in 2007 and gradually implemented during a transition period of several years, declines in the annual allowable harvest of big horn sheep, and a “high female kill” in the case of grizzly bears.
Mr. Cutts appealed the Regional Manager’s quota and five-year allocation determinations for bighorn sheep and grizzly bear only. Mr. Cutts submitted that the population estimates used by the Regional Manager were too low. In respect of the population estimates, Mr. Cutts submitted that the bighorn sheep populations “has at least doubled in size” over the past 33 years, and that grizzly bear numbers were “at record highs”. Further, Mr. Cutts submitted that the decision was unfair to his business, and that the Ministry had unfairly singled out guide outfitters. He argued that the animals in question should be divided fairly between residents and guide outfitters.
Mr. Cutts sought an order from the Board increasing his quotas and five-year allocations for bighorn sheep and grizzly bear.
The Board found that the main issue in the appeal was whether Mr. Cutts’ five-year allocations and 2013-2014 quotas for bighorn sheep and grizzly bear should be increased.
In respect of this issue, the Board found that there was no basis to increase Mr. Cutt’s quotas and five-year allocations as requested. The Board preferred the population estimates relied upon by the Regional Manager to those provided by Mr. Cutts, and found that the Regional Manager may reasonably rely on the population estimates, the allowable harvest rates, and the resident/non-resident hunter allocation split, all of which were determined by Ministry staff with expertise in this matter. Further, the Board stated that even if it accepted Mr. Cutts’ population estimates, these increases alone would not justify an increase in Mr. Cutts quota without further information and analysis.
Concerning Mr. Cutts argument that the Ministry had unfairly singled out guide outfitters, the Board found that the resident/non-resident split is determined by the Director, not the Regional Manager, and therefore was not a matter that was properly before the Board.
Accordingly, the appeal was dismissed.