by Phil Phillips - Thursday, March 28, 2019
More troubling news on the hunting and conservation front is coming out of British Columbia as the anti-hunting Wildlife Defense League (WDL) is launching an online campaign to stop all “trophy” cat hunting in the province. Guide outfitters in the region say the WDL is one of the same groups that organized to get grizzly bear hunting stopped in British Columbia effective Nov. 30, 2017. The ban passed in spite of the fact that the Guide Outfitters Association of British Columbia (GOABC), members of the scientific community and hunter-backed conservation groups presented scientific evidence documenting the hunter’s role in wildlife management and that legal, regulated hunting is a viable and necessary wildlife management tool. At the time, outfitter friend Bob Milligan explained, “The antis are using the words ‘trophy hunting’ to mask the truth that hunting is conservation and spin hunting as an atrocity.”
Chipping away at the freedom to hunt one step at a time, WDL and its supporters are now trying to stop the hunting of all cats, including mountain lions, bobcats and lynx. According to a Vancouver Sun article published on Mar. 26, a Forests Ministry spokeswoman didn’t respond to a question about a possible ban. However, the article added that in an email she remarked that the hunting of big cats is legal in British Columbia, and “cougar, lynx and bobcat populations appear stable and, anecdotally, cougar populations in the Kootenay region (and Peace region) are increasing as is the number of bobcats and lynxes.” The same article said the group also is trying to stop the use of dogs for hunting.
As for the economic impact when hunting is diminished, the article also estimated there 245 guide outfitting businesses in the province. Not only is hunting a major part of tourism there but hunters comprise a group that represents some of the “biggest spenders.” One study estimates each hunter spends an average of $3,000 per year in British Columbia on ammunition, equipment, fuel, lodging and meals.
I spoke to a B.C. outfitter friend today who said he would not be surprised if the WDL was able to push the ban through, thanks to the political climate in the region. With the deer and moose populations already down in some areas, this move would take away even more opportunity for outdoorsmen in British Columbia. Too many predators and the prey species suffer; balance is essential. As animal rights extremist groups escalate their attacks on hunters and hunting, they distort the facts at every turn to try and sway an uninformed public. Yet NRA Hunters’ Leadership Forum-funded research from late 2016 shows the general public supports legal, regulated hunting.
As a Colorado resident, I know firsthand that if you don't control the mountain lion population you will definitely see a decline in deer numbers and that, if left unchecked, this will impact the viability of the species in some areas. From a financial standpoint, British Columbia already has lost a huge income flow with the shutting down of grizzly bear hunting and it would take another major blow if they stopped hunting cats. As we see over and over, the antis go after the soft targets like bears and cats but in the end will try and take away every hunting right that we have.
At this time, GOABC is not commenting in favor of waiting to see how things progress. Be sure to check back with this website for updates on this issue.
About the Author: NRA Life member, award-winning outdoor TV host and recreational real estate associate broker Phil Phillips of Hayden Outdoors has hunted five continents, taking more than 200 big-game animals and nearly 60 species worldwide. Prior to hosting hunting programs, he started Colorado's first Ranching for Wildlife Program for antelope, which he ran for 15 years. Working alongside professional land managers to restore and protect habitat, Phil went on to guide clients to 500-plus big-game animals that have qualified for the record book. In 1992 Safari Club International honored him as the North American Bowhunting Outfitter of the Year. Email Phil at [email protected].
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