Decision Date: October 31, 2013
Panel: David H. Searle, CM, QC
Keywords: Wildlife Act – ss. 51, 60, 101(1); guide outfitter; quota; Roosevelt Elk; written reasons
Darren DeLuca appealed two decisions issued by the Regional Manager, Recreational Fisheries and Wildlife Program, West Coast Region, Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (the “Ministry”), with respect to the quota of Roosevelt Elk set out in his two guide outfitter licences for the 2013/14 guiding season. Mr. DeLuca is a guide outfitter operating in a guide territory located on Vancouver Island. He guides hunters who pay to take part in a hunt for specific species of wildlife.
Mr. DeLuca’s annual guide outfitter licences are issued with species quotas, which are the number of individuals of specific wildlife species that his clients may kill in specific “hunt zones.” In the past, Mr. DeLuca was issued five-year quotas and harvest guidelines for Roosevelt Elk.
In January 2013, the Regional Manager sent a letter to Mr. DeLuca purporting to set a “tentative” quota of two bull elk for his 2013/14 licences, and a “tentative” five-year harvest guideline of six bull elk for the 2102 – 2016 period.
In April 2013, the Regional Manager issued Mr. DeLuca’s guide outfitter licences for the 2013/14 season. Each licence was issued with a one-year quota of one bull Roosevelt Elk, and a one-year (2013) harvest guideline of one bull Roosevelt Elk from each of three hunting zones.
Mr. DeLuca appealed to the Board, and requested that the Board direct the Regional Manager to provide written reasons for his decisions as required by section 101(1) of the Wildlife Act, provide five-year quotas and harvest guidelines for Roosevelt Elk for his licences, and add one extra bull elk to the quota of one of his licences.
The Board found that sections 51 and 60 of the Wildlife Act, respectively, provide the Regional Manager with broad discretion in issuing guide outfitter licences and attaching yearly species quotas as conditions of those licences. Outside of the Wildlife Act, the Ministry has created detailed policies and procedures to provide non-binding guidance and assistance in the exercise of that discretion.
In addition, the Board found that section 101(1) of the Wildlife Act clearly requires the Regional Manager to give written reasons for a decision that affects a licence. The Regional Manager’s January 2013 letter setting “tentative” quotas and allocations did not constitute a “decision” because it lacked finality. However, the Board held that the discussion in that letter is consistent with the quotas that were actually issued in the April 2013 licence decisions. In addition, the lack of an explanation as to why no five-year harvest allocation was issued was not a fatal flaw, and the Regional Manager provided an explanation in the appeal hearing. In any case, there is no indication that the five-year harvest allocation stated in the January 2013 letter had changed. Moreover, all of the evidence and submissions were heard afresh by the Board during the appeal hearing, and this corrected any procedural errors in the Regional Manager’s process.
Finally, the Board found that Mr. DeLuca had provided no compelling reason to interfere with the Regional Manager’s exercise of discretion in setting the quotas. Therefore, the Board declined to add one bull elk to Mr. DeLuca’s licence.
Accordingly, the appeals were dismissed.