The B.C. provincial government sought public opinion earlier past fall on how it should best go about protecting species at risk, and has received plenty of feedback.
The Ministry of Environment recently reported that more than 450 comments came through during the online consultation it ran on the matter from mid-October to the last day of November in 2016, with the B.C. Species and Risk Engagement website getting more than 4,390 visits from B.C. residents during this period.
“Recovering and protecting B.C.’s species at risk is a shared responsibility. That’s why it is important to get feedback fromBritish Columbians on the challenges and opportunities that exist for improving how we protect species at risk in B.C,” saidEnvironment Minister Mary Polak in a press release.
The comments came from local government officials, First Nations, various interest groups, academics and industry group representatives, as well as the general public. Most of the comments (44 per cent) came from the Lower Mainland,Vancouver Island and other coastal areas, although a significant number (12 per cent) did come from the Kootenay region.
Comments were divided into four main topic groups: principles for the protection of species at risk; provincial protection of species at risk; protection of species at risk on private land; funding for species and ecosystems at risk.
Although comments were more or less anonymous to others viewing them online since all that appears publicly is the commenter’s first name, the content made it clear that at least a few comments came from individuals in the Kootenayregion, and specifically the Columbia Valley, referencing local groups such as Wildsight and issues such as the deer cull.
“All wildlife has intrinsic value. The government abdicates responsibility by letting traditional wildlife conservationadvocates — like Wildsafe BC, BC Conservation Foundation, Wildsight and many others, along with for-profit naturalresource companies like Vast Resources — perform the management and research they should,” wrote a commenter namedLenore. “The government gives out multi-year permits to municipalities to ‘cull’/slaughter wildlife while at the same time,their contractors report on the decline of ungulate populations. They turn a blind eye while domestic animals chase deerand when residents trap and kill ‘pests’… why is wildlife different than minerals? The private owners and residents ofmunicipalities should not be able to kill, relocate or otherwise disturb animals.
“Huge tracts of private land are fenced to exclude wildlife,” she continued, “subsidized by government while openrange/Crown land is managed to exclude wildlife, and government money is spent on eco-system restoration to benefitrange users and hunters. It is all about economy now — and it should be about animals.”
A commenter named Peter, also clearly local to the Columbia Valley, wrote that he feels there should be “larger fines fordamaging the environment. With the money from the fines used to fund projects to manage sensitive areas. In our area, wehave the Columbia Valley Local Conservation Fund, as well as the Environmental Stewardship Initiative.
“Yikes, ‘a vibrant natural resource economy’ (in reference to the ministry’s question: Do you have any other thoughts onhow we can achieve a balance between protecting species at risk and supporting a vibrant natural resource economy?)…there lies the problem… It should be more ‘a sustainable natural resources economy’,” continued Peter. “The sawmill inRadium is an example of ‘vibrant’… how long before it’s a ‘dim’ sawmill and the people are out of work, again. I also haveconcerns about interest groups buying land to create private parks.”
The ministry plans to use the feedback to update B.C.’s Five-Year Plan for Species at Risk.
To learn more about the plan, visit www.env.gov.bc.ca/atrisk/. To view all feedback comment online, visitwww.engage.gov.bc.ca/SpeciesAtRisk.