Decision Date: July 21, 2017
Panel: Linda Michaluk
Keywords: Wildlife Act – ss. 51(2), 60(1); guide outfitter; quota; allocation; grizzly bear; bighorn sheep
Robert J. Cutts appealed a decision of the Deputy Regional Manager (the “Regional Manager”), Recreational Fisheries and Wildlife Programs, Kootenay-Boundary Region, Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (the “Ministry”), regarding Mr. Cutts’ annual quotas and five-year allocations of grizzly bear and bighorn sheep.
Mr. Cutts is a guide outfitter. Each year, guide outfitters apply to the Ministry to renew their guide outfitter licence. Under the Wildlife Act, regional managers may attach a quota as a condition of a guide outfitter licence. A quota sets out the total number of a particular species, or type of species, that may be harvested by the guide’s clients in the guide’s territory during the period specified in the licence. In his decision, the Regional Manager advised Mr. Cutts of his quotas for the 2017/18 licence year and his five-year allocations (harvest targets) for 2017-2021. Mr. Cutts received quotas and allocations for bull moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goat, and grizzly bear.
Mr. Cutts appealed his quotas of 1 bighorn sheep and 0 grizzly bear, as well as his five-year allocations of 2 bighorn sheep and 0 grizzly bear. His main argument was that the grizzly bear and bighorn sheep populations in his guiding territory were higher than the Ministry had estimated. He also argued that the Regional Manager’s decision was based on politics rather than science, and that his clients should be allowed to kill one bighorn sheep per year given that the open season for bighorn sheep in the region allows resident hunters to do so. He requested increases in his quotas and allocations of grizzly bear and bighorn sheep.
The Regional Manager’s appeal submissions included affidavit evidence detailing how Ministry scientists estimated the populations of grizzly bear and bighorn sheep in Mr. Cutts’ guiding area, and how the Regional Manager applied the Ministries policies and procedures when he set Mr. Cutts’ quotas and allocations.
The Board found that Mr. Cutts had provided insufficient evidence to justify increasing his quotas and/or allocations of grizzly bear or bighorn sheep. There was no evidence that the Ministry’s population estimates should not be relied on, or that the Regional Manager misapplied the Ministry’s policies and procedures. Regarding Mr. Cutts’ argument that it is unfair that resident hunters are allowed to kill one bighorn sheep per year in his region but his clients are not, the Board found that a regulation under the Wildlife Act sets the open season for bighorn sheep hunting in that region by resident hunters. Neither the Regional Manager nor the Board has the authority to set aside or vary a regulation. For all of those reasons, the Board confirmed the Regional Manager’s decision.
Accordingly, the appeal was dismissed.