Fish and Wildlife Management Underfunded in B.C. – BCWF
Prince George, B.C. – How does B.C. shape up to its peers when it comes to funding fish and wildlife management? Not very good according to the B.C. Wildlife Federation.
Jesse Zeman, resident priority program manager with the BCWF, presented his findings to about 60 people last night in the Canfor Theatre at UNBC for a town hall discussion titled “The Future of Fish and Wildlife: Are we Losing What Makes B.C. Special?” (the event was co-hosted by the Spruce City Wildlife Association).
From 2011-2016 he said B.C., with a population of 4.6 million, ranked last in funding fish and wildlife management compared to seven jurisdictions in Western North America at $7 per person.
Montana (population 1 million) ranked highest at $69 per person. Idaho (1.6 million) was second at $65. Oregon (4 million) was third at $55 per person, Utah, (2.9 million) at $29 was fourth, Washington State ($7.1 million) at $22 per person was fifth and Alberta with a population of 4.1 million was sixth at $9.
(Stats from other jurisdictions compiled 2015-16).
In fact, dating back to the mid-1970s in B.C., he said funding has stayed flat while the budget for health care and education has steadily increased. In addition to that, Zeman said B.C. is also one of the most under-staffed jurisdictions in North America.
He called it a “non-partisan issue” with not one particular government to blame. Instead he chose to point the finger at wildlife enthusiasts themselves, arguing they haven’t spoken up loud enough so that politicians could hear them and act.
“We need more champions,” he said. “Sign a petition, ask candidates for public office questions.”
(Two happened to be there, PG-Mackenzie NDP candidate Bobby Deepak and PG-Valemount NDP candidate Natalie Fletcher. Neither participated in Zeman’s presentation though they were available to chat with attendees afterwards).
Zeman also said we’ve only really started to notice the lack of investment as caribou, steelhead and moose populations have started to dwindle in this province.
The town hall included a question and answer period at the end where one audience member asked if we should believe the provincial government’s recent promise that it will fully reinvest the sale of hunting licenses to enhance wildlife management activities.
“We should never take anything for granted,” answered Zeman.