Decision Date: September 26, 2018
Panel: Gabriella Lang
Keywords: Wildlife Act – s. 60; guide outfitter; quota; mountain goat
Cassidy Caron appealed a decision of the Director, Wildlife and Habitat Branch (the “Director”), Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (the “Ministry”), regarding the quota of mountain goat that may be harvested by the Appellant’s hunting clients during the 2018/19 licence year.
The Appellant is a guide outfitter with a guiding territory in the Kootenay Region. Every year, guide outfitters apply to the Ministry to renew their guide outfitter licences and to request a quota for specific animal species. Under section 60 of the Wildlife Act, the Ministry may attach a quota as a condition of a guide outfitter’s licence, and may vary the quota for subsequent licence years. A quota is the total number of a particular wildlife species that the guide’s clients may harvest in the guide’s territory during the licence period. Typically, guide outfitters’ clients are non-resident hunters.
When making quota decisions, the Ministry first considers population estimates for each species. Then, after considering conservation objectives, the Ministry considers the harvest allocation in the following order: first, harvest by First Nations; second, harvest allocations among resident hunters; and finally, harvest among guided hunters. Ministry policies and regulations specify the percentage split of the available harvest between resident and non-resident hunters for each species in each region.
The Director issued the Appellant quotas of one bighorn sheep and two moose, but no mountain goat, for the 2018/19 licence year.
The Appellant appealed the Director’s decision, and requested a quota of one adult male mountain goat. The Appellant submitted that the population of mountain goats in her guiding territory is healthy enough to allow her requested quota. She also submitted that the harvest of mountain goats by resident hunters is low in the wildlife management zone in which her guiding territory is located, but the low harvest does not reflects low goat populations. She submitted that resident hunters were not hunting for mountain goats in areas where there are road closures, including an area where she observed 36 goats in the fall of 2017. She also observed eight goats in the spring of 2018.
The Board considered evidence from the Director regarding the population health of mountain goats in the region, and how she applied various Ministry policies and procedures, and calculated allocations for harvest. In particular, the Director provided evidence that mountain goat population surveys in 2014 showed a 48% population decline from 2005 in parts of the region, including the wildlife management zone in which the Appellant’s guiding territory is located. Therefore, the Director applied a conservative 2% harvest rate to the sub-population of mountain goats in that wildlife management zone. After applying the Ministry’s policies and procedures to the population estimate, the Director concluded that there was an insufficient mountain goat population within the Appellant’s guiding territory to support any guided harvest in 2018/19, which resulted in the Appellant’s mountain goat quota of zero for 2018/19.
The Board found that the Appellant’s submission that the mountain goat population in her guiding territory is healthy enough for a guided hunt in 2018/19 was based on her personal observations of 36 mountain goats in the fall of 2017 and eight mountain goats in the spring of 2018. In contrast, the Director’s evidence on the mountain goat population was based on scientific surveys and detailed calculations, together with evidence of a decline in the population in areas that included the Appellant’s guiding territory.
The Board found that the Director’s evidence on the mountain goat population was more substantive and persuasive than the Appellant’s. The Board accepted the Ministry’s population estimate, as well as the evidence of declining health of the mountain goat population in the area, all of which determined whether any mountain goats could be allocated to guide outfitters for harvest. The Board also found that the Director properly applied the relevant legislation and Ministry policies and procedures when making her decision. For all of those reasons, the Board concluded that the Director’s decision should be confirmed.
Accordingly, the appeal was dismissed.