A new coalition has formed to call upon the government to make fundamental legislative changes to prioritize protecting fish, wildlife and their habitats. Doug Turner photo.

Wildsight joins coalition calling on government to prioritize wildlife and habitat protection

The Fish, Wildlife and Habitat Coalition is comprised of more than 20 groups

A new province-wide coalition comprised of more than two dozen diverse organizations has been formed with the intent of urging the government to “re-establish the province as a world leader in fish, wildlife and habitat management.”

“A wide variety of often adversarial groups from across the province that share a common interest in fish and wildlife ecology are requesting that the government place a higher value on fish, wildlife and habitat,” explained Jim Turner, president of United Bowhunters of B.C.

The Fish, Wildlife and Habitat Coalition or FWH Coalition as it is known, hopes to call upon the government to make changes that will address the steep decline of wildlife populations and their habitats in B.C.

Wildsight’s conservation director John Bergenske said that this group, which ranges from groups like the BC Wildlife Federation and Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society to guide outfitters and anglers, may have differing opinions on certain issues, but they all agree that the province has a big problem.

“We’ve got to get the habitat back in shape and we’ve got to start making maintaining wildlife a priority when government’s making resource management decisions in terms of the land base,” Bergenske told the Bulletin.

He said that the group continued to grow and add more members, and though they can find certain issues where disagreements arise, 90 per cent of the time they’re all on the same page, which is that wildlife hasn’t been the priority and that needs to change.

“We feel very strongly that it’s important that we all pull together to maintain the fish and wildlife, despite the fact that we may have some differences in terms of their management,” Bergenske said. “We all agree that they need to be a priority in terms of land use decision making and all of the resource decisions that are being made and at the same time that we need to find sufficient funding so that all happens.”

The change, he explained, must stem from fundamental changes to how legislation works, moving towards prioritizing wildlife first, rather than focusing on development first and viewing wildlife as a hindrance.

Their main target is the provincial government, as they seek to have changes made in provincial legislation, but individual groups will be working both at the provincial and regional levels to accomplish this.

READ MORE: Wildsight’s Bergenske appointed to Minister’s Wildlife Advisory Council

“We recognize that wildlife do need to be managed based on the different reasons, because there’s very different things that are needed in terms of habitat requirements in different parts of the province,” he said.

Things like mining, logging and recreation all impact wildlife and their habitats. This coalition says that all decisions made regarding these industries need to demonstrate that fish, wildlife and habitat won’t be negatively impacted.

“It’s a real paradigm shift in terms of land use decision making,” Bergenske said. “Right now in forestry the legislation continues to say that you can protect wildlife as long as it doesn’t impact timber supply; that sort of thing needs to go.”

Here in the East Kootenay, there are two main priorities, protecting old growth forests and the ungulate winter range and grassland ecosystems.

READ MORE: All talk, no action on old growth protection says Wildsight

“There’s a big push provincially with the old growth and the old growth strategy and so here in this region we’re going to be looking at the old growth areas that are remaining and trying to make sure that we get deferrals, or basically making sure that we don’t lose them while government is putting together its old growth strategy,” Bergenske explained.

He added that the levels of logging in the East Kootenay appear to be extremely high and the government needs to start prioritizing wildlife, because at the time it’s up to non-governmental conservation groups like Wildsight, and First Nations groups to keep an eye on them.

He said the first steps the coalition will take will be to secure meetings with government ministers in the land use sectors, and then hopefully working with senior bureaucrats on crafting the sorts of changes they feel need to be brought to fruition through legislative change.



paul.rodgers@kimberleybulletin

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

An ambulance waits to pick up an elderly couple injured in a vehicle collision in Christina Lake Monday, June 14. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Christina Lake collision under investigation, say Grand Forks RCMP

No one was seriously hurt in a two-car collision on Highway 3 Monday, June 14

The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League met for their AGM and announced a number of new initiatives, new awards and changes in their executive committee, as well as the starting date for the 2021-22 season. Paul Rodgers file.
KIJHL announces start dates for 2021-22 season

Season set to begin Oct. 1 with league still following all health guidelines

South Slocan’s Ti Loran is among the recipients of this year’s Neil Muth Memorial Scholarship. Photo: Submitted
Neil Muth Memorial Scholarships awarded to 4 students

Students in Creston, South Slocan and Revelstoke are sharing the honour

The Independent Investigations Office of BC is looking into a Castlegar incident. File photo
Police watchdog investigating Castlegar incident

IIO: Woman sustained a reportedly self-inflicted injury

West Kootenay Regional Airport. Photo: Betsy Kline
Central Mountain Air leaving Castlegar airport in July

The airline says market can’t handle two airlines

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

B.C. ambulance station in Revelstoke is expected to get a new system called the Scheduled On-Call (SOC) this fall. (Liam Harrap - Revelstoke Review)
B.C. ambulance changes could put Revelstoke residents at risk, warn local paramedics

Paramedics said to expect a substantial increase in ambulance response time starting this fall

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. watching U.K.’s COVID struggles but don’t think province will see similar pitfalls

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Most Read