Decision Date: April 26, 2019
Panel: Linda Michaluk
Keywords: Wildlife Act – s. 60; guide outfitter; quota; moose
Chris Condie 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 a guiding territory 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 three bull moose. The Director also issued the Appellant an allocation of ten bull moose for period from 2017 to 2021. The quota and allocation were lower than in the past.
The Appellant appealed the Director’s decision on the grounds that the Director: breached her fiduciary duty to the Appellant by failing to inform him of her decision in a timely manner; and, based her decision on incorrect calculations and questionable science. The Appellant requested that his 2017-2021 allocation and 2018/19 quota be reinstated to the previous amounts of 16 and five bull moose, respectively. In the alternative, he requested that the matter be sent back to the Director with directions to reconsider his 2018/19 quota.
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 Director kept guide outfitters informed about the process and the reasons for the delay, and provided notice of her decision in accordance with the requirements of the Wildlife Act. In addition, the Board found that the Director, as a decision-maker under the Wildlife Act, owed no fiduciary duty to the Appellant as the holder of a guiding territory certificate.
Based on the evidence, the Board found that the Ministry’s wildlife biologist had concerns about moose population in parts of the Cariboo Region that included the Appellant’s guiding territory. The evidence indicated that prompt action was necessary to facilitate the recovery of the bull/cow ratio in the area. The Board found that maintaining hunting opportunities at their earlier higher level could have been contrary to the expeditious recovery of bull/cow ratio. The methodology used to calculate moose quotas in the Region was scientifically sound, and addressed concerns about the sustainability of moose population. The Board concluded that the Director exercised her discretion fairly, in accordance with the objectives of the Wildlife Act, and after considering the relevant policies and procedures.
Accordingly, the appeal was dismissed.