Decision Date: September 21, 2016
Panel: Jeffrey Hand
Keywords: Wildlife Act – ss. 51, 60, 101(1); Commercial Activities Regulation – s. 1.04; guide outfitter; quota; Roosevelt elk; reasons for decision; exercise of discretion
Darren Deluca appealed a decision of the Deputy Regional Manager (the “Regional Manager”), West Coast Region, Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (the “Ministry”). Mr. Deluca is a guide outfitter who is authorized to take hunters on guided hunts in his guiding territory which covers parts of Vancouver Island. Each year, Mr. Deluca receives a guide outfitter licence from the Ministry, which specifies the number of particular game species that his clients may kill in his guiding territory. The Regional Manager provided Mr. Deluca with an annual quota of two Roosevelt elk for the 2016/2017 guiding season.
The Provincial government has designated Roosevelt elk as a species of “special concern”, and hunting of these elk is closely monitored and managed. Limited hunting of Roosevelt elk is permitted only in special hunting zones where the elk population is considered sufficient to support hunting.
Mr. Deluca appealed on the grounds that his quota was incorrectly determined, and that the Regional Manager provided inadequate reasons for his decision. Mr. Deluca submitted that in 2013, the Ministry gave him a five-year allocation of four Roosevelt elk for the period from 2012 to 2016, but his clients only harvested one elk from 2012 to 2015. Mr. Deluca requested that his quota for the 2016/2017 season be increased to three Roosevelt elk.
The Board found that the Regional Manager provided detailed evidence regarding how he calculated Mr. Deluca’s five-year allocation, previous annual quotas, and the quota under appeal. The Regional Manager identified the elk population estimates and hunter harvest rates that he relied on, and the Ministry policies and procedures that he applied. The Board found that the Regional Manager had provided Mr. Deluca with two emails that clearly set out the reasons for his decision. Although the emails were provided shortly after the quota was issued, the Regional Manager complied with the requirement in section 101(1) of the Wildlife Act to provide written reasons for his decision. Moreover, the Appellant’s appeal submissions showed that he understood the reasons for the Regional Manager’s decision. The appeal process cured any minor defect in the timing of issuing the reasons.
Turning to the merits of the Regional Manager’s decision, the Board found that the Regional Manager has broad discretion under the relevant legislation to set quotas. Based on the Ministry’s procedure for setting quotas, Mr. Deluca would have received a quota of only one Roosevelt elk in the 2016/2017 season, as well as the two previous seasons, but the Regional Manager had considered the relevant legislation and Ministry policies, and exercised his discretion to increase Mr. Deluca’s quota to two Roosevelt elk. Furthermore, the Board found that the Regional Manager properly calculated the quota based on Mr. Deluca’s guiding territory, and not based on elk hunting zones within his guiding territory. The Board also found that the Regional Manager properly took into account conservation concerns regarding the Roosevelt elk population. After considering all of the evidence, relevant legislation, and relevant Ministry policies and procedures, the Board concluded that the Regional Manager properly calculated Mr. Deluca’s quota, and properly exercised his discretion in setting the quota.
Accordingly, the appeal was dismissed.