• Frederick Vandenberghe v. Regional Manager

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    Decision Date: September 22, 2014

    Panel: Ken Long

    Keywords: Wildlife Act s.19; Permit Regulation – ss. 2(p), 6(1)(d), 6(2); permit to acquire ownership; Bighorn Sheep horns; value determination; auction data; condition of horns

    Frederick Vandenberghe appealed the decision of the Regional Manager, Recreational Fisheries and Wildlife Programs, Kootenay-Boundary Region (the “Regional Manager”), Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (the “Ministry”), denying Mr. Vandenberghe a permit to acquire ownership of the horns of a dead Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep for personal use.

    Mr. Vandenberghe found a set of Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep horns on private land, and was advised by the landowner that he could keep the horns.

    Sometime before February 4, 2014, Mr. Vandenberghe submitted a request to the Regional Manager for a permit to possess the horns.

    The Regional Manager denied Mr. Vandenberghe’s request because he found that the value of the horns was approximately $664.50, and section 6(1)(d) of the Permit Regulation forbids the Regional Manager from issuing a possession permit for an item with a value greater than $200, when the item is to be used for personal purposes. The Regional Manager based his value determination on the average price received for Bighorn Sheep horns in government auctions from 2007-2010, and his finding that the horns were in “good condition”.

    Mr. Vandenberghe appealed on the grounds that the Regional Manager’s value determination was too high. Mr. Vandenberghe submitted that the horns were in “very rough condition”, and questioned how the Regional Manager could obtain an “average value” of the horns from auction data when there had not been a wildlife auction for over three years.

    Mr. Vandenberghe asked the Board to reverse the Regional Manager’s decision.

    The Regional Manager opposed the appeal, and maintained that the value of the horns was “significantly higher” than the $200 threshold in the Permit Regulation. The Regional Manager submitted that, despite the damage and imperfections, the horns were in “average or above-average condition”. Further, the Regional Manager submitted that the 2007-2010 values are still relevant and likely conservative. In support of this proposition, the Regional Manager provided that there is a continued high interest and demand for Bighorn Sheep hunts, as indicated by the continued high numbers of resident hunter days associated with Bighorn Sheep hunting in the region.

    The Board expressed concern that section 6(2) of the Permit Regulation may require the Regional Manager to rely on increasingly outdated auction data in making a valuation determination, given that government auctions of wildlife parts ceased in 2012. Accordingly, the Board reiterated the recommendations of two previous Board decisions, which called for the government to consider amending section 6(2) if the government no longer intends to conduct wildlife auctions.

    Despite the issues identified with section 6(2), the Board found that the Regional Manager’s value determination under section 6(2) was reasonable in the circumstances. The Board found that the Regional Manager would be aware of hunter demand in the Kootenay Region, and thus accepted the Regional Manager’s evidence that Bighorn Sheep are still popular in the Kootenay region. The Board also found that, based on photographs, the horns were in average or above average condition. The Board found that it would be reasonable to conclude that Bighorn Sheep horns have held their auction value in the region, and that it is more probable than not that their value would exceed $200. The Board therefore confirmed the Regional Manager’s decision.

    Accordingly, the appeal was dismissed.