Whitehorse Daily Star

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RATIONALE EXPLAINED — After granting operating licences to two outfitters for this year’s hunting season in April and May, Department of Environment spokesperson Roxanne Stasyszyn said that tight timelines led to the department cancelling some hunting permits for resident hunters but not outfitters.

Resident hunters upset outfitters can still hunt

Commercial outfitters looking to head to the territory for next year’s hunting season will have to change their plans – as the government will drop their quotas down to zero, an Environment Yukon spokesperson said last week.

By Palak Mangat on August 6, 2018

Commercial outfitters looking to head to the territory for next year’s hunting season will have to change their plans – as the government will drop their quotas down to zero, an Environment Yukon spokesperson said last week.

Roxanne Stasyszyn, the department’s director of communications, explained that this year, hunting is a go for the two outfitters granted operating licences in April and May.

Her comments come on the heels of frustration from the Yukon Fish and Game Association’s (YFGA’s) president, Charles Shewen.

He was reacting last week to the department’s cancellation of Finlayson caribou herd hunting permits for resident hunters. That was announced in a July 31 release explaining that the decision was a result of ongoing negotiations with the Ross River Dena Council (RRDC) about hunting in its traditional territory.

Stasyszyn noted last week that the declining population of the herd over nearly the last two decades also played a role in the decision.

Those stats were provided by the department after Shewen voiced his frustration that it seemed like the department was not making a decision based on scientific evidence.

“Not only was it cut but we’re the only ones who are cut – others will hunt this herd as planned,” he told the Star Friday. “It makes me highly suspicious.”

That suspicion, he explained, is not surrounding the figures that show a slump from an estimated 4,130 in 1999 to about 2,712 just last year in 2017.

“We’re not concerned about the data; we’re just saying we don’t feel that’s why this hunt (for Finlayson) was closed (to us).”

That’s even after Stasyszyn explained last week that both discussions with RRDC and the declining population were taken into consideration.

But shortly after, resident hunters and some of the YFGA’s membership grew upset that they were the only ones seemingly impacted, as outfitters and First Nations would continue to hunt as normal this season.

“It may be a conservation issue, but how can it only be conservation that applies to just resident (hunters)? That doesn’t sit well with us at all,” Shewen said.

Meanwhile, Stasyszyn said this morning that because of the short timeline and advance notice required in notifying outfitters, the decision to not cancel these licences for this season was made.

“The Yukon government is legally required to provide notice before changing” any details about the upcoming season to hunters, she said.

That requirement is important for outfitters, and is a one-year notice, “because of the nature of their business – they may book clients well outside of the territory” and well in advance of the season itself.

“In the case of resident PHA, we hadn’t issued those permits yet, that was something we controlled this year,” she said, but “for outfitters, we had already signed their operation certificates in spring.”

The decision to cancel Finlayson permits for resident hunters was something the department could “control,” especially since those permits were put on hold in early July, which is when those whose names were drawn were notified of their successful status.

This means that they were not physically issued the permits, Stasyszyn said last week, and were told that a final decision would be made before the Aug. 1 date.

The release announcing the cancellation was issued July 31.

Shewen acknowledged he was unaware that the permits had been put on hold, as the YFGA as an organization was not notified but individual hunters were in their correspondence with the department.

“That was a subtly that we didn’t pick up on,” he said.

He did acknowledge that it could be difficult for some outfitters to make alternate plans, but at the end of the day, the result for him and his membership was disappointing.

“I can understand the logistics side of it from outfitters,” he sighed.

Noting that there is often co-operation from both parties, Shewen said the relationship between resident hunters and commercial outfitters is a positive one.

“But the bottom line is for this year, there is no impact to commercial hunters.

“They can hunt, we can’t hunt – that’s not fair.”

Stasyszyn said that while it was unfortunate for resident hunters, it was the result of tight timelines.

“The conservation concern is real,” she said, adding “but there is a process we go through when we use or put in place or change a management tool like a harvest restriction.

“Unfortunately, that process wasn’t able to get through its course in time to restrict outfitters’ harvest, but it was early enough to restrict residents’ harvests.”

Still, Shewen remained unimpressed.

Stasyszyn, however, said that “it’s not about unfairly targeting, it’s about going through the proper process to change the harvest as required.”

The decision was also the result of scientific data and traditional knowledge from the First Nation, she continued.

Noting the last set of data was gathered in 2017, Stasyszyn said “the numbers aren’t new – what was new was our ability to sit down with” RRDC.

“The piece that didn’t happen was sitting down with RRDC,” she said, adding that once that was done and the concerns were echoed, “we decided to take action as much as we could.”

That action now means that residents hunters will not be able to hunt Finlayson caribou this season, while outfitters and First Nation can – something that Shewen said is problematic.

“We aren’t too happy at all about the government’s latest response in how they handle Finlayson caribou herd,” he said.

“This latest issue – just saying its a potential conservation issue even though we (YFGA) didn’t know about (the numbers) and it only applies to a certain amount of hunters – that’s a problem,” he sighed.

“And it’s a little disingenuous saying that it’s a concern but only applies to certain people,” he added.

He also remained skeptical of the department’s motivation in citing the figures after he voiced his anger – which Stasyszyn said last week are not hidden from stakeholders but brought “out when we’re having management conversations” like these.

“If they were being truly sincere about this being a conservation concern, they would never have even drawn the 30 names,” Shewen guessed. The department’s data show the herd has been in decline for just under two decades (1999 to 2017), he noted.

“You lay those factors over top of each other ...” he trailed off, sighing, before adding he fears the government is “trying to control the message a little bit.”

He also feared that this could open the door for other concerns.

“Other First Nations can have concerns about hunting pressures in their traditional territory as well,” Stasyszyn acknowledged.

That dialogue between YG and that First Nation is “part of our regular business when we put any restrictions” in place, she added.

For his part, Shewen did credit and thank the department for its support in sharing concerns with its members in the past.

“They’ve been very good when we have went to approach them” about species concerns, Shewen said, noting that he is grateful for the work that biologists do to track populations.

As for the dialogue with the First Nation, Shewen said the association may consider reaching out to the RRDC directly “to figure out where this is going in any way we can to help understand the First Nation’s concerns.”

“We have been seeing a decline in harvest, which is indicative of a decline in herd,”Stasyszyn said.

Of the 30 or so permits that would have been issued, she said that between 2007 and 2017, the department’s data show a range of five to 16 caribou would have actually been hunted.

That range includes both resident hunters and outfitters, though, as the department tracks licensed hunters as a whole.

Comments (24)

Up 7 Down 3

Sibylle Spitzer on Aug 11, 2018 at 5:20 pm

Outfitters get their quota, so Don Jr. can go trophy hunting in the Yukon
(the last person we need here).

Up 4 Down 2

Jake on Aug 11, 2018 at 3:53 pm

@ Jack good point the interests of the many is exactly how this should play out. Sustenance hunting only!! One big game animal per household period! Shoot a moose then You are done. Shoot a Cariboo, sheep, goat, deer, or any other big game animal including a bear then you are done. No more big game hunting and no more cow touting to specific interest groups. I agree heritage is important but that crosses over if you are a long time Yukoner as well.

Up 7 Down 4

Elizabeth Spenzer on Aug 11, 2018 at 11:46 am

Wonder how long it will be before wolves are blamed for the declining numbers? They have always been scapegoated in the past when in fact it is always human behaviors that are the main culprit regardless of ethnicity.

Up 9 Down 2

Yukoner on Aug 11, 2018 at 5:25 am

Why do these two outfitters hold so much power? Does being pals with the minister get you special treatment? The Government needs to do the RIGHT THING and cancel the outfitters permits. And RRDC, shame on YOU for your cloak and dagger management, while blaming resident non RRDC Yukoners for YOUR lack of respect for wildlife management.

Up 12 Down 1

Jack on Aug 9, 2018 at 8:56 pm

@ Josey Wales - Good ramblings for sure. I do believe that unless Government decides what is good for the many out weighs the good of the one, we will have a divisive place. No one should believe their interests are above anyone else's.

Up 11 Down 3

joe on Aug 9, 2018 at 4:58 pm

You know the planet is 4.543 billion years old and we know some people have been here say 18,000 years (we're pretty limited on how far back we can see) so that's like recent history. Doesn't mean first, it means most recent and if you extrapolate the laws of probability and do the math (with a 4.something billion year buffer) it's very likely someone else was here before you. We all have rights except when it's unfair to others. I thought that's where we're at on the geological time scale.

Up 9 Down 6

Josey Wales on Aug 9, 2018 at 6:27 am

Random thoughts by Josey....
Wonder how long till we build internment camps to aid in re-education of the melanoma challenged, those without elitist blood or victimhood mentality?
CBC cannot do it on their own with the meagre pile of pocket change we award them each year.
....it is the current year and perhaps we should embrace our politically motivated divisions and go off for reprogramming.
Funny that, I thought diversity was our strength?
Apparently this diversity was not ideal for the first migrants, we need to decide which it is. ....ya know, for the cult like chanting required.
Diversity or cultural elitism, or better stated...cultural supremacy.
“What we have here, is a failure to communicate....”

DoE aside....what a epic mess of race based crap.
We need to focus on the content of the individual character, not the colour of the collective skin.
Mind you last time that logic was spoke...the orator of said idea?
Was shot dead, and his dream died that day...becoming everyone’s nightmare.
Identity politics, it will most certainly destroy us...as it currently doing.

Up 5 Down 22

Partsman on Aug 8, 2018 at 8:34 pm

So Shewan should understand that his hunting and fishing is a privilege and that his access to First Nations Land is a privilege also . Complaining about discrimination is so unbelievable. Non Aboriginal people have been screwing with the hunting rights of First Nations people in the provinces for years and now the FN have figured out what happens if they trust non FN people and non FN are up in arms . Well butter cups I think you should suck it up or maybe we won’t let you have access to lakes to fish on like you do to FN in the provinces because there surrounded by cottages and farm land .

Up 15 Down 3

Jack on Aug 8, 2018 at 4:20 pm

@ First Nation Person, It is not about the herd. We all agree it needs interim protection. It's about fair access for all. If one group is singled out, not only is it prejudicial, but also looks like they are the ones the blame is aimed at.

Up 30 Down 3

First Nation Person on Aug 8, 2018 at 3:23 pm

Seriously ppl... if everyone is that concerned.... maybe everybody should NOT be allowed to hunt that herd.

Up 26 Down 3

Yukoner79 on Aug 8, 2018 at 2:19 pm

Would love to see ol' Pauline attach herself to the headlines instead of hanging bureaucrats out to dry for her crappy decisions. Way to lead. In fact, how often do you see a Liberal's face attached to any "bad news story"?

Up 33 Down 7

Ya Okay on Aug 8, 2018 at 8:26 am

So 40 permits a year for male only animals has depleted a herd...Ya No... Shooting out of season, shooting the females, shooting lots of animals to feed all, this depletes a herd...So who hunts Like this... RRDC do... that's how you deplete a herd by 2200 animals..... Not by a FEW PERMITS A YEAR..... wonder if the Whitehorse Star will print this one... they didn't like my last one..... Liberals have screwed this up and this is total discrimination.....

Up 18 Down 4

Max Mack on Aug 7, 2018 at 6:05 pm

Unfortunately, the "resident hunters" are being side-tracked by the obvious lack of good governance and discrimination at play. Have they fallen prey to the old "divide and conquer" strategy?

Government won't take away the Outfitter's business because Government will be sued for the loss.
However, the current ruling Government is very glad to throw you and I under the bus. Risk of a lawsuit? None.

Up 31 Down 6

Groucho d'North on Aug 7, 2018 at 5:07 pm

So in the name of full disclosure- how many animals are harvested by the First Nation hunters in these areaa?

Up 6 Down 11

At home in the Yukon on Aug 7, 2018 at 3:01 pm

I know we want to bellyache any time our position is diminished, but the other guys is not. However, I think to understand this situation we need to think of boats. Big ships (outfitters) aren't very maneuverable. They need advanced warning of a change in course. Small craft (think local hunters) require much less lead time.

Up 8 Down 4

terry on Aug 7, 2018 at 2:16 pm

The BC/Yukon Guide Outfitter Association and their lobbyists have stolen much from the lowly BC resident. Guess same coming here soon.
Outfitters in BC get 40 percent of sheep tags but due to their very efficient use of aircraft, limiting resident access to prime areas and cabins on every decent lake, manage to kill most of the sheep harvested.
Not happy with their majority position they have lobbied for an even greater share of the sheep permits.
Moose permits soon followed........

Up 12 Down 2

Lost In the Yukon on Aug 7, 2018 at 2:06 pm

The Territory's new seat of power, where all the important decisions are being made, is at 2166 2nd Ave. Whitehorse. Get used to it, if you doubt this has anyone seen Sandy Silver lately?

Up 10 Down 4

Jake on Aug 7, 2018 at 12:22 pm

This going to be a problem! Set aside the unfairness to a certain sector of the population. Yukon residents rely on game to supplement their food needs. Think it is time to phase out the commercial hunting, they talk about what it brings into the economy. That is questionable. Second permits should be issued to anyone in their respective zones. Others need to be lotterized for zones outside of their living area. Also severely limit the mechanized ability of hunters. It has the most impact on access to game. Everywhere is accessible now!!

Up 27 Down 8

Josey Wales on Aug 6, 2018 at 8:40 pm

Ahhh...some more identity politics, that is all this is.
Has little to do with any critters, more about pandering and cronyism.
If you have that gold card that just never stops....giving, great exercise your rights to the last animal.
If you have deep pockets and political connections, yes you too can hunt!
If you are a mere lowly “other” clearly lesser local, whom funds this circus...guess you do not hunt here...this year.
Where not next year, for those lesser valued regular Yukon folk?
Most likely be a south facing range, near a beat trail and of course near two maybe three rivers.
Funny does hunger feel different in the bellies of regular folks not born with those lucrative genes?
Very slippery slope we are on here, I sense a massive divide amongst our Yukon folks with this political quagmire.
Wonder how long till we need passports to travel on our highways?
Looking forward to our next election....yes I is!

Up 40 Down 8

ProScience Greenie on Aug 6, 2018 at 7:31 pm

Outfitters should be at the bottom of the priority list.

Up 34 Down 10

BnR on Aug 6, 2018 at 5:46 pm

Whether you are a seasoned old Yukoner who's been hunting here for decades, a Subaru driving treehugger who enjoys canoeing down a river with some friends and harvesting clean, wild meat, you like to quad or Argo into your favourite spot, whatever.
This government had the chance to do the right thing, and they burned Yukoners.

Up 38 Down 3

ythunter on Aug 6, 2018 at 5:32 pm

I'm calling BS to all of this.
There were 30 resident permits and 10 non-resident. By their own admission, the gov is admitting there was a conservation issue, yet the outfitters got to use theirs, and we didn't. There is no requirement in the legislation to give the outfitters a years notice. The minister can impose whatever conditions they want on the outfitters certificate of operation, and regardless of anything else in the act, there's this:

Emergency powers of Minister
194(1) Despite any other provision of this Act, the Minister may prohibit or otherwise restrict the hunting or trapping of wildlife in any part of the Yukon, for any period of time, if in the opinion of the Minister, it is urgently required to do so for purposes of public health, public safety or conservation.

The minister imposed these measures on Yukoners, but not on the outfitters.

Up 36 Down 13

Preston on Aug 6, 2018 at 5:31 pm

This is nothing but being discriminated against in a couple ways; one being a resident and second not being FN. I guess white lives don't matter or non FN, or our family traditions putting food on our tables?? This is unbelievably sad as the outfitters and the FN that are so concerned about it are still allowed to hunt but the rest of the Yukon residents are not allowed. Total discrimination - and all I see is legal action starting on this matter. So much for equal to all Yukon residents. I have purchased permits for many years and that money goes toward wildlife management and other great causes to avoid things like this from happening. Now the FN that do not have to even purchase a permit can call the shots on who and how?? This is very poor management YG!!

Up 24 Down 5

BrevityIsTheSourceOfWit on Aug 6, 2018 at 4:06 pm

Yet another 1300 words where 200 would have been more than enough. Does anyone actually edit this stuff ?

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