Mr. Gent appealed a decision of the Regional Wildlife Manager (“the Manager”) to deny him a possession permit for the carcass of a bald eagle which he found in a garbage. The Manager concluded that Mr. Gent wanted the carcass primarily for private use which, according to Ministry policy, took a lower priority than ceremonial (aboriginal) use. Mr. Gent appealed on the grounds that he also wanted the eagle for education use in classrooms, that the Branch had been holding the carcass for over one year contrary to its policy, and that he had initially been given the incorrect Branch policy.
The Panel found that the Branch held the carcass in accordance with its policy and that the failure to give Mr. Gent the correct policy did not compromise his rights in this case. Regarding the permit to possess, the Panel agreed with the Manager that the circumstances weighed in favour denying the permit to Mr. Gent. The Panel accepted evidence that eagles are in high demand by aboriginal peoples for traditional uses, and that eagle carcasses turned over to the Wildlife Branch are an important source of eagles for the Cowichan First Nations. The Panel agreed that the aboriginal demand for eagles was better met by giving aboriginal uses high priority when dead eagles are turned in than by having to allocate a harvest of live eagles for such purposes. Finally, the Panel found that Mr. Gent primarily wanted the eagle for private use, and that he focused on educational uses only after he became aware that the Branch may consider this a reason to deviate from its policy of placing ceremonial uses higher than private possession. The appeal was dismissed.