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Kootenay East MLA tables bill to amend hunting regulations

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka has put forward a bill aimed at laying the foundation of an independent funding model for wildlife management.

Shypitka said the private members’ bill would keep funding at ‘arm’s length’ from government.

“This would incorporate and bring in other different revenue sources whether it’s multiple levels of government, along with other sources of revenue such as philanthropy, bringing in all licenses and tags from all users in the province,” said Shypitka. “When we’re talking about securing and enhancing our wildlife population, here in B.C., I think it falls on everybody’s lap to do what they can.”

Shypitka said this proposed bill would lay the groundwork for a similar funding system as is used for fishing licenses.

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“It keeps money in-house specifically for wildlife,” explained Shypitka. “With that funding bring is data collection, mapping and all those things that are critical to wildlife population and habitats. It keeps them in-house, away from the political cycle. Sometimes regulations are used in a lazy way to appease social license or public opinion.”

Shypitka hopes to one day see a regionalized approach to hunting regulations, rather than an overarching model.

The MLA said wildlife management has been an issue in B.C. for a number of years.

“It’s not a direct fault of this current government, this has been mishandled for decades. We’ve never had a proper holistic wildlife management approach,” said Shypitka. “We have to up our game, and nobody wants to take this on because it is a huge task. This funding model will get the conversation going, put science back into our decisions, and give wildlife the kickstart it needs to be sustainable.”

Shypitka introduced the private members’ bill on Wednesday, and he said it has initially been well-received by all parties he has spoken to.

“I have yet to hear any opposition to this, so this is a really non-partisan bill that should bring British Columbians together,” said Shypitka. “We’re talking about our greatest natural resource in the province: our wildlife. We put a value on oil, gas, metals, minerals and timber, but we don’t put any value on our wildlife and habitat.”

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