Before you get carried away with the suggestion that it is fishing time – not hunting – there are some imperatives for those of us who hunt that must be attended to prior to hunting season if we want to participate in harvesting some of the organically grown wild meat that comes from the Limited Entry Hunting (LEH) management system. Like the deadline for entry applications to be in Victoria by 4:30 p.m. Friday, May 24.
When I received my LEH regulations last week I was surprised that there was no directed effort in the regulations to hunt blacktailed deer on some wildlife management zones along the east coast of the Island where they are inflicting serious damage to farmers’ crops – especially in the Capital Region in and around Victoria. As an example of this type of management of wildlife that caused damage to farmers I bring to your attention the following LEH – 2013/2014 regulations currently in effect in the Omineca/Peace Region 7 found on Page 7 of the regulations:
LEH Hunt Code 2148 Peace River Management Unit 7-20+ A Dec.1 – Feb.28/14 Antlerless elk – 2500 – tentative number of authorizations available.
This particular LEH gives you some idea of the staggering numbers of elk in the region and their potential to inflict serious losses on farmers. What better way to help control the wildlife damage than by harvesting high quality meat with positive hunting methods?. It seems to me that there is a place for responsible use of modern archery and restricted firearms in controlling some of these urban deer.
I respectfully suggest with a little bit of innovative thinking on the part of the Ministry of Environment (MOE) we could come up with acceptable hunting strategies that would help in controlling the problem deer and other wildlife such as Canada Geese in many areas.
Taking a brief look at the huge number of LEH applications that are processed annually, the 2012 figures are enlightening. The MOE Fish and Wildlife Branch processed 160,000 LEH applications for eight species of wildlife. It is a significant lottery where hunters pay $6.30 for each application card they submit. Note: An applicant may submit only one application per LEH species in one calendar with the special exception of two lottery draws for mountain sheep and grizzly bears.
The simple arithmetic on these numbers show that, last year, hunters spent over $1,000,000 in the LEH lottery that only offers a hunting authorization as a prize that costs you more money if you are successful. It is good business for MOE and hunters alike. In 2012 there were roughly 30,000 authorizations issued for the eight species under LEH regulations.
I want to draw special attention to moose shared hunts. It comes as no secret that moose are large animals and when one of them is harvested and turned into meat there is a considerable amount of high-quality, naturally grown meat that can be shared among more than one family. The picture with this column is of Smitty and I with one of our last moose from a shared hunt in Region 5-Cariboo.
Getting the moose from where it fell out to the truck involved over 1,000 feet of rope, two snatch blocks, and the energetic running back and forth of my teenage grandson Michael Farrell. It was a challenging task and tested two old guys even with our experience.
Shared hunts are unique in that it does not matter who shoots the animal because all members of the group share in the proceeds. A group of two is allowed one animal, and groups of three or four are allowed two animals. There are other details, but this is basically how it works. What surprises me is that elk and bison have not been added to the opportunities of shared hunts. It raises an interesting question – Why not?
Associated with many of the issues created by climate change is the increased interest in growing local food in various places beyond what we produce in our gardens and farms. Responsible hunting through special LEH regulations combined with the normal hunting regulations provide a sustainable system whereby British Columbians will be able to harvest local meat into the foreseeable future. Organically grown food from natural places is healthy food. Wild meat is free from additives.
Ralph Shaw is a master fly fisherman who was awarded the Order of Canada in 1984 for his conservation efforts. In 20 years of writing a column in the Comox Valley Record it has won several awards.