Decision Date: April 26, 2019
Panel: Linda Michaluk
Keywords: Wildlife Act – s. 60; guide outfitter; quota; moose
Brent Giles appealed a decision of the Director, Fish and Wildlife Branch (the “Director”), Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (the “Ministry”), regarding the quota of bull moose that may be harvested by the Appellant’s hunting clients during the 2018/19 licence year. The Appellant is a guide outfitter with two guiding territories in the Cariboo 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.
For the 2018/19 licence year, the Director issued the Appellant a quota of two bull moose in one guide territory (GTC 300715), and five bull moose in the other guide territory (GTC 500944) in the Cariboo Region. The Director also issued allocations of two bull moose (GTC 300715) and 17 bull moose (GTC 500944) for period from 2017 to 2021. Those quotas and allocations were lower than in the past.
The Appellant appealed the Director’s decision on the grounds that the Director: failed to inform him of her decision in a timely manner; failed to include in her decision the calculations that the decision was based on; based her decision on erroneous science; and, failed to offer any mitigation for the loss of property caused by her decision. The Appellant requested compensation, monetary or otherwise, for the reductions in his moose quotas and allocations.
The Board found that the Director’s decision was made several months later than usual, but this was due to the need to consult First Nations about moose hunting in the Cariboo Region, and the need to obtain scientific information about the moose population in the area to ensure wildlife conservation, which is a fundamental objective of the Wildlife Act. The Ministry’s evidence regarding the estimated moose populations in the area indicated that prompt action was necessary to facilitate the recovery of the bull/cow ratio. The Appellant provided no evidence to refute that evidence. The Board found that maintaining hunting opportunities at their earlier higher level could have been contrary to the expeditious recovery of bull/cow ratio.
Based on the evidence, the Board concluded there were pressing conservation concerns about moose populations in the area that required immediate attention. The Director made her decision as quickly as the situation allowed, and provided notice in accordance with the requirements of the Wildlife Act. The Director kept guide outfitters informed about the process and the reasons for the delay, and her decision indicated how the Appellant could obtain information about how his quotas were calculated. There was no evidence that the Director acted in an arbitrary or capricious manner, or failed to act in accordance with the relevant law, policies or procedures. On this basis, the Board dismissed the appeal.
Regarding the Appellant’s request for compensation, the Board noted that section 67 of the Wildlife Act states that “a guiding territory certificate … does not give the holder any proprietary rights in wildlife or fish”. Therefore, the Board found that the Appellant had no proprietary rights over the moose that were previously part of his allocations or quotas, and it was unclear how he could be entitled to compensation for the “loss” of moose over which he held no proprietary rights. Moreover, the Board’s powers in deciding an appeal under the Wildlife Act do not include the awarding of compensation for a reduction in wildlife quota or allocation.
Accordingly, the appeal was dismissed.