• Heidi Gutfrucht v. Deputy Director of Wildlife

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    Decision Date: April 16, 1999

    Panel: Toby Vigod, Richard Cannings, Christie Mayall

    Keywords: Wildlife Act – s. 60(1); Wildlife Act Commercial Activities Regulation, s. 1.04; grizzly bear harvest quotas in licences; bear population estimates; Fuhr-Demarchi model; fettering of discretion; relevant considerations.

    These were two appeals against two decisions of the Manager regarding their annual quotas for grizzly bears for the 1998/99 season. Both Ms. Gutfrucht and Mr. Anttila were licensed guide outfitters in the Skeena Region. Ms. Gutfrucht sought an order that her quota be increased, and Mr. Anttila sought an order reinstating his 1997/98 quota. They argued that the Manager acted arbitrarily in coming to his decision regarding the 1998/99 grizzly bear quotas. The appeals were held together.

    In deciding the 1998/99 quotas, the Manager estimated the grizzly bear population by using the Fuhr-Demarchi model and then applied the harvest guidelines to the estimates, taking the public interest into account.

    Ms. Gutfrucht argued that the use of the Fuhr-Demarchi model produced very conservative population estimates, resulting in similarly conservative quotas. She also argued that it was unreasonable for the Manager to use the guideline, which included unreported kill (including non-hunting mortality) in the estimates of total kill. Mr. Anttila argued that the bear population had been underestimated, as there was a large discrepancy with his own sightings of bears.

    The Panel found that the discrepancy between the Manager’s estimates and Mr. Antilla’s sightings could have been due to the difficulty of ensuring that animals were not double counted. The Panel also found that the generally accepted view with respect to unreported kills was that they should be expressed as a percentage of the maximum harvest rate in order to reflect the incidence of poaching in a given area or cripple loss.

    The Panel also found that there had already been an overkill of female grizzlies in the area and that there had been a recommendation for the closure of hunting in the region due to the overkill. The Panel accepted the Fuhr-Demarchi model of estimating grizzly bear populations as a reasonable one, and found that the Manager did not act arbitrarily in setting the quotas. The appeals were dismissed.