Whitehorse Daily Star

Image title

Photo by Whitehorse Star

Environment Minister Nils Clarke

Quotas called outfitting industry’s ‘lifeblood’

In the spring, the Department of Environment caused a stir amongst outfitters, and the opposition, when it moved to change hunting quotas across the territory.

By Ethan Lycan-Lang on November 23, 2022

In the spring, the Department of Environment caused a stir amongst outfitters, and the opposition, when it moved to change hunting quotas across the territory.

Now, the Environment minister might be backtracking.

Or maybe not.

Last March, the Department of Environment signalled it would limit hunting quotas for outfitters to single-year allotments, instead of the multi-year system that’s been in place for decades.

Essentially, outfitters would receive the number of a given species they could hunt in their concession, or allotted hunting area, each year.

Previously, that quota was issued for a number of years, allowing outfitters to know the number of a particular big game species they’re allowed to harvest over a longer period of time.

Minister Nils Clarke told reporters last spring his department had received legal advice that multi-year quotas are in conflict with the territory’s Wildlife Act, and changes were coming.

The Yukon Party attacked the proposed change during the spring, saying outfitters rely on advance sales of hunts, and an annual quota would be too restrictive for their businesses.

On Tuesday, the opposition renewed its criticisms. But Clarke told media the department is changing course, and hunting quotas will be staying more or less the same going forward.

“It will be status quo, or very close to status quo, unless conservation measures are clearly indicated,” he told reporters.

But a closer look at his comments suggests hunting quotas are still changing from the model that’s existed in harmony with the Wildlife Act for 25 years.

“My legal advice is that although multi-year and overharvest quotas do not comply with the Wildlife Act, the Department of Environment had worked with outfitters to establish an alternative approach,” he continued.

“This approach is based on multi-year sustainability and recent harvest levels to provide certainty and predictability to outfitters, similar to what they had in the past.

“So it’s not a strict multi-year quota, but based on the data we have with respect to the recent years, they’ve been provided quotas.”

Boiled down, Clarke said his legal advice still shows multi-year hunting quotas are in breach of the Wildlife Act. That means the old system is gone. He said the new system will resemble that old system closely.

The only big change, he added later, will be the introduction of hunting quotas to four outfitting concessions that had been operating without them.

But new quotas are already in place for all 20 outfitting concessions. And they use the single-year model the department had indicated it was moving to last spring.

Clarke suggested a compromise had been reached by basing those quotas off population and harvest averages from previous years.

These averages, he said, would allow outfitters to predict quotas for the future and conduct business beyond the limits of their single-year permits.

The only big change, Clarke said, was that four outfitting concessions that had previously existed without hunting quotas would now be operating with them.

Aaron Florian is an executive at the Yukon Outfitters Association, and operates his own outfitting business.

He said this morning the Department of Environment has not communicated anything to Yukon outfitters that would suggest hunting quotas will resemble the decades-old multi-year model.

He said the new model of hunting quotas is in place now, and though they’re based on averages, they are issued on a one-year basis.

Speaking to the Star, Florian called quotas the “lifeblood” of the outfitting industry. He acknowledged the need for quotas in the territory to ensure long-term hunting, but said a single-year system is tough on business.

He has a backlog of clients booked into 2025, and hopes to book more at an upcoming conference.

But he’s now unsure how many more clients he’ll be able to book, or how much of his backlog he’ll be able to clear, once his current quota ends. It makes it difficult to sell hunts far in advance, he said.

This was the basis of the criticisms lobbed at Clarke during question period on Tuesday.

Wade Istchenko, the Yukon Party MLA for Kluane, asked about hunting quotas last week, and repeated his attacks on the new government system.

“The new process that this minister has created is causing havoc in this industry,” Istchenko said.

The changes have led to an unprecedented number of quota appeals from outfitters, he addded.

“Does this surge in appeals from the local outfitters raise any concern with the minister about what impact his flawed approach is having on this historic industry?” Istchenko asked.

Clarke’s response received a rowdy reaction from the opposition.

He said four quota appeals were from outfitting concessions that had been operating without quotas for moose or caribou, and said in the past they’d had “no regulations whatsoever.”

Several Yukon Party MLAs disrupted Clarke’s response, with one opposition member saying Clarke didn’t know what he was talking about.

Government House Leader John Streicker called for a point of order, and Speaker Jeremy Harper told legislators to “civilize your comments.” 

Clarke later told reporters he had misspoken. He’d meant to say the four concessions had been operating without quotas, not without regulations.

He also said eight outfitting concessions had appealed their quotas this year. He said a ninth appeal had been withdrawn, and four of the current appeals were from the aforementioned concessions that had never operated with hunting quotas.

After the interruption, Clarke concluded his response.

“As part of the review of the quota allocation process, the Department of Environment worked with outfitters to place all outfitters on quotas this year,” he told the legislature. 

“Quotas are set to ensure that the wildlife harvest remains at sustainable levels, considering wildlife conservation, Indigenous subsistence harvest rights, and resident and non-resident hunter issues.

“Establishing outfitter quotas, in some instances, for the first time, is a complex process that requires balancing the rights and interests of outfitters, Yukon First Nations, and renewable resources councils. We will do this hard work, and we will get it done,” Clarke said.

Istchenko had called for the minister to “ensure that wildlife management decisions are data-driven,” suggesting the recent changes are arbitrary and harmful to outfitters.

Clarke further said in question period the old quota model was outdated, being implemented prior to a number of First Nations final agreements.

Yukon Party Leader Currie Dixon told reporters the government should have engaged more with the outfitting industry before making any changes that could hurt their business.

He also wondered why Clarke thought the quotas are outdated or are in conflict with current legislation.

“Successive governments from the mid-’90s to now have always used these (quota) guidelines,” Dixon said. “It certainly has never been interpreted that it was inconsistent with the Wildlife Act.”

He called the implementation of new quotas “a blanket imposition of quotas simply for the sake of having quotas.

“I don’t think there’s any outfitter out there that would say that if there’s a scientific need for a quota to reduce the amount of harvest, they don’t mind having that,” he said. “So if there’s a data-driven imperative for the imposition of a quota, I don’t think outfitters would object to it.”

He says data do not back up the recent quota changes, though.

Comments (13)

Up 3 Down 0

maple_mex on Nov 29, 2022 at 1:07 pm

There has been outfitting in this territory for more than a century. During this time outfitters have had to manage the wildlife resource in their area. An outfitters goals is to sell a quality hunt to their prospective client, so they need to make sure they manage the resource carefully so that there are sufficient animals available year after year to provide a quality experience for their clients. An outfitter would be stupid to ruin their local resource. An outfitter who cannot deliver on this will not be able to sell hunts and will go out of business.

Outfitting is truly one of the only renewable resource industries in the Yukon. This can be demonstrated by the fact that it has been operating successfully for over a century. It is not like mining where reclamation is required once the resource is depleted.

Outfitting brings allot of economic benefit to the Yukon; regardless of non-resident ownership. Think about all of the AirNorth flights, all of the local hotel rooms, the restaurants, the local groceries purchased, the local gear and equipment purchased, the fuel, the services expediters provide, the float plane charters provided. These are all local businesses hiring local employees. Yes there are some out of Territory employees working at outfits that come out of the bush and spend their hard earned dollars at some of the local bars too!

Multi year qoutas allow an outfitter to better manage an area. They may see a species in their area that will reach peak age in two years time so they hold off hunting this species untill then. The one year quota will force outfitters to take what they can in a given year. Not a good way to manage the resource.

Up 27 Down 14

Davis on Nov 25, 2022 at 7:13 pm

Every year the regulations for resident hunters get more and more restricted, but nothing ever changes for outfitters. It's about time outfitters get their quotas restricted as well to ensure the overall harvest numbers are sustainable. I question how much economic value outfitting brings to the Yukon. Most outfitters i've heard of are from out of territory and their employees too...

Up 21 Down 24

Groucho d'North on Nov 25, 2022 at 9:31 am

Outfitting brings important money into the Yukon and a number of rural communities benefit from the jobs they create, further, all the meat that gets donanted to elder FN people in the communities and the hospital is another current benefit.
Times are changing as the tourism sector is now crossing paths with outfitters as more people are exploring the back country. I can see an opportunity for the outfitting industry to cater to photographic hunters rather than the shoot-em-dead kind. The revenues will be different for adapting to a photo based hunt, but you get to shoot the same sheep over and over again, rather than just once so it should balance out over time. I expect the photo-hunt market will be much larger than the tradional hunting market too.
So lets see some promotion within the outfitting industry to "Put down the Remington and pick up a Canon."
The trophy can still hang on the wall- just in a two dimentional format.

Up 28 Down 31

Patti Eyre on Nov 25, 2022 at 8:54 am

Just out of curiosity I googled this guy Aaron Florian, and it appears based on his linked in profile he is an American. So this guy lives in America and outfits in Yukon, brings all his rich American friends to our wonderful land and kills many of our beautiful animals for pleasure. We're OK with this? I certainly am not! Where's the petition to end this ghoulish kill show? I'll sign.

Up 42 Down 8

Abetting Aviation on Nov 23, 2022 at 9:25 pm

If anyone in authority is interested, I’ve been trying for six years to get into a particular area. Four of those years the air charter has outright refused to book citing other client bookings. Okay, I get that in a first come first served way. Two of those years they cancelled on us in July. That, I’m not okay with. They still flew that day, to be clear. The same air charter that just got a metric ton of public money in a deal around MEDIVAC. So what’s they deal? They get to limit Yukon resident hunter access due to their monopoly and living fat on government contracts? They get to continue their session at the public trough while practicing outright protectionism that is on the books as illegal in this country?

What’s the point of all the rules if no one has to abide by them? Why bother paying back the bank or listening to the cops if we get screwed at every turn even when we follow the rules? How do you respect a government that is either too complicit or too lacking in backbone to do anything that matters?

Up 14 Down 9

bonanzajoe on Nov 23, 2022 at 7:36 pm

@Buy them out on Nov 23: So, Is this your idea of "reconciliation"?

Up 27 Down 16

Max Mack on Nov 23, 2022 at 5:29 pm

Liberal politicians attempting to drive Outfitters out of business, so they can turn the industry over to preferred groups?

Up 19 Down 14

Elmer Fudd on Nov 23, 2022 at 4:45 pm

The last three comments Freddy penner, buy them out and end trophy hunting don’t have a clue, yet they are certainly entitled to their opinions, maybe in the future we can hunt drug dealers and pedophiles, that would ease hunting pressures but not help the freezer out . hehe

Up 39 Down 43

Buy them out on Nov 23, 2022 at 3:17 pm

Have FNs access federal funding to buy the outfitter businesses through their DevCorps. Then turn them into a business aligned with their values. The days where being able to afford a $40k USD hunt entitled you to that hunt is over. Aggressively fancy outsiders do enough damage to the social fabric here through tourism. What a relief it’s been for so many of us that those numbers have halved after the lockdowns, eh? You can feel the humanity slowly returning to the communities.

Licensed hunter or aboriginal person, we’ve all experienced choice encounters with outfitters who feel we are ‘on their patch’. Take back your land, FNs. All the money you need is there. Just write the grants, the business plans and organize. All within reach. Take the yearly kill numbers of commercial outfits out of the equation and, in one stroke, there’s more than enough animals for all Yukoners.

Up 79 Down 40

Fred Penner on Nov 23, 2022 at 2:34 pm

Awww, poor little outfitters. Cry me a river. Your industry is literal legalized poaching. You take, take, take from the land. What do you actually give back to it? Nothing. An animal doesn't deserve a death sentence to satisfy some rich twats ego.

Up 69 Down 42

End Trophy Hunting on Nov 23, 2022 at 2:31 pm

Why are we pandering to these outfitters? Their entire industry is disgusting and they've got the nerve to complain that they need to 'clear backlogs' of tourists who want to come to the Yukon to kill animals. They want to 'sell hunts years into the future', and are 'hoping to sell more at an upcoming convention'...

Gee! That's a real shame that environmental planning is getting in the way of your wants! I only question why Yukoners are wasting any resources whatsoever in trying to accommodate your sick industry.

These blood thirsty, cowards are mostly wealthy men from Europe and the USA who get thrills from traveling the world to blow away animals. Preferably rare animals, and the most 'impressive' specimins of their species (large, big horns etc). Donald Trump Jr. is one of the Yukon's most illustrious trophy hunting scuzzes. The same Donny who got rules changed in one country so that he, as the son of the US president, could legally kill an endangered animal. (A goat of some type, as I recall.)

You'll never get a clear answer out of any of these depraved so-called 'hunters' about why they kill the animals. They'll say they love nature, the vacation in the wilderness. All that can be done without killing. So what is it about? It's perversion. They are not hunters, they are perverts. I read one hunting site where one sicko was asking another, 'did you get wood?' (when he pulled the trigger) Definintion: "Perversion: a distortion of what was originally intended."

Let's simplify things and just outlaw this whole industry' Killing for fun has no place in the Yukon's tourism plan. It has no place in the Yukon period.

Up 84 Down 18

MountainHunter on Nov 23, 2022 at 2:31 pm

Currently, outfitter quotas (with the exception of sheep, where no quotas for outfitters are in place) are determined by the Rural Resource Councils (RRCs). This is in the Umbrella Final Agreement.
Of the quotas established by RRCs, Sheep are not included, only Moose, Caribou and bears.
Most of these quotas were established years ago and do not reflect the numbers of Moose taken currently by the outfitters. Also, many of these quotas were established not taking into account local resident hunter pressure. Many outfitters are taking in excess of 30 Moose a year, and at $30,000 USD per hunt, well, you can do the math.
Yukon resident hunters are bearing the brunt of game management decisions. We're facing yet more Sheep hunt permit hunt authorizations (PHAs) while no Yukon outfitter is limited to the number of Sheep they can harvest.
We're facing Moose hunt restrictions and Yukon outfitters are not.
Many local air charter services refuse to fly us into outfitters areas.
Currie, Wade and the boys sticking up for outfitters but selling Yukon resident hunters out.

Up 106 Down 7

john on Nov 23, 2022 at 2:20 pm

Need to put quotas on all hunters, everyone needs to report including first nations.

Add your comments or reply via Twitter @whitehorsestar

In order to encourage thoughtful and responsible discussion, website comments will not be visible until a moderator approves them. Please add comments judiciously and refrain from maligning any individual or institution. Read about our user comment and privacy policies.

Your name and email address are required before your comment is posted. Otherwise, your comment will not be posted.