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BC United pledges millions for wildlife management

Kevin Falcon commits to restructuring government oversight of fish and wildlife management
BC United is pledging funding and restructuring of wildlife management resources ahead of the fall election. (Larry Tooze photo)

Kevin Falcon is pledging millions of dollars towards funding and reforming fish and wildlife management in the province, as the fall election looms in October.

The B.C. United leader announced $100 million towards revitalizing declining wildlife species populations and habitats, as part of a larger $200 million strategy developed by industry stakeholders to manage B.C.’s natural fish and wildlife resources.

“Our plan sets a gold standard for conservation,” said Falcon, in a news release. “It ensures that future generations will enjoy and cherish B.C.’s natural beauty just as we do today. We are putting real value on our wildlife, and we are taking decisive, science-based actions to preserve our biodiversity.”

The funding will be tied to a new independent agency to be managed by title holders and wildlife and habitat stakeholders. Under the new model, the intent is to maximize provincial funds by attracting support from NGOs, local governments and businesses, among other potential revenue sources.

“With this historic investment, we’re not just pledging funds, we are committing to a complete transformation in how we manage our natural heritage,” said B.C. United MLA Tom Shypitka, who represents Kootenay East. “This is about ensuring that every dollar from hunting and angling licenses is reinvested directly into the wildlife and habitats that make British Columbia so unique.”

The B.C. United plan commits to restructuring government oversight of natural resources by centralizing fish, wildlife and habitat management within a dedicated ministry. It also includes elements that will address urgent concerns such as Chronic Wasting Disease, invasive species and wildfire risks.

“This isn’t just an investment in fish and wildlife. It’s an investment in the future of British Columbia,” said Falcon. “By reforming our approach to environmental management, we’re taking a critical step towards preserving our province’s ecological integrity and biodiversity.”

Advocates from groups such as the BC Wildlife Federation have been seeking changes to the province’s wildlife management framework, specifically a funding and governance model independent of government, —similar to game commissions in the United States — as well as legislated targeted objectives and ensuring public access to public lands.

At a BCWF town hall in Cranbrook earlier in May, executive director Jesse Zeman said the province was earmarking just over $30 million for wildlife management, when that figure needs to be upwards of $200 million.

Wildlife management has hit close to home in the southern interior of B.C. with two test-positive cases of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) confirmed near Cranbrook in January.

Chronic Wasting Disease affects cervids such as deer, elk, moose and caribou, caused by a prion protein, which is transmitted through saliva, urine, feces, carcasses and even plant and soil. It is fatal to wildlife, and while there’s no direct evidence that it can be transmitted to humans, public health guidance notes people shouldn’t consume an animal infected with the disease.

Trevor Crawley

About the Author: Trevor Crawley

Trevor Crawley has been a reporter with the Cranbrook Townsman and Black Press in various roles since 2011.
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