BC United pledges millions for wildlife management


Kevin Falcon commits to restructuring state oversight of fish and wildlife management

With the fall election approaching in October, Kevin Falcon is promising to provide millions of dollars to fund and reform fish and wildlife management in the province.

The BC United chairman announced $100 million to revitalize populations and habitats of declining wildlife species, part of a broader $200 million strategy developed by industry stakeholders to manage BC's natural fish and wildlife resources.

“Our plan sets a gold standard for conservation,” Falcon said in a news release. “It ensures that future generations will enjoy and appreciate BC's natural beauty as much as we do today. We value our wildlife and are taking decisive, science-based action to protect our biodiversity.”

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

“With this historic investment, we are not just providing funds, but committing to a complete transformation of the way we manage our natural heritage,” said Tom Shypitka, BC United MP representing Kootenay East. “This is about ensuring that every dollar from hunting and fishing licences is reinvested directly in the wildlife and habitats that make British Columbia so unique.”

BC United's plan calls for restructuring government oversight of natural resources by centralizing fish, wildlife and habitat management into a separate ministry, and includes elements to address pressing issues such as chronic wasting disease, invasive species and wildfire risk.

“This is not just an investment in fish and wildlife. It is an investment in the future of British Columbia,” Falcon said. “By reforming our approach to environmental management, we are taking a critical step toward preserving our province's ecological integrity and biodiversity.”

Representatives of groups such as the BC Wildlife Federation are calling for changes to wildlife management in the province. In particular, they are calling for a funding and management model independent of government – similar to hunting commissions in the United States – as well as legally enshrined targets and guaranteed public access to public lands.

At a BCWF town hall meeting in Cranbrook in early May, Executive Director Jesse Zeman said the province was only allocating a little more than $30 million to wildlife management, when the amount should actually be more than $200 million.

In the southern interior of British Columbia, wildlife management problems were hit hard when two positive cases of chronic wasting disease (CWD) were confirmed near Cranbrook in January.

Chronic wasting disease affects deer, elk, moose and caribou. It is caused by a prion protein that is transmitted through saliva, urine, feces, carcasses and even plants and soil. The disease is fatal to wild animals and although there is no direct evidence that it is transmissible to humans, health guidelines advise that one should not consume an animal infected with the disease.