Recent Items – 1999
April 9, 1999
By Mark Nielsen, Daily News Staff
When is wildlife not longer wildlife? It’s a question that Burnem Grant has been thinking long and hard about.
Grant is the wildlife policy representative for the Peace River Forage Association (PFRA). And he’s become all too familiar with wild game, particularly elk, venturing onto his 2,400 acres of grazing land and eating the grass that is meant primarily for the bison he raises. Grant estimates that there is a resident herd of about 400 elk in the vicinity of his farm south of Pouce Coupe, each consuming an amount of forage about equal to what a horse would eat.
Although popular with some people, who like to leave hay out to keep the elk fed over the winter, Grant said they can also be a big problem for farmers. But he said that because of the provincial Wildlife Act, there is little that farmers can do — especially since installing eight-foot high fencing around the perimeter of a pasture is very expensive.
“Some people feed them by choice and some people feed them without choice and their being managed under the Wildlife Act leaves little option for farmers but to feed them,” he said. “Our options of defence are limited.”
After considerable thought, Grant has concluded that the best way to deal with the problem is to include a clause in the Act that acknowledges the existence of two kinds of wildlife, actual and resident, the former being found in their natural environment and the latter being those animals that have become dependent on humans for their
“What we have is a population of a specified wildlife that isn’t wildlife anymore,” he said. “They’re living year-round on domestic resources and they’re right alongside large tracts of Crown land. But by choice they come into the agricultural area and they become residents.”
Grant believes that only once such animals are designated as resident wildlife can they be properly dealt with. Although he would like to see some form of population control implemented, Grant said he hasn’t given great thought to how that would work yet.
“At this point, with me that isn’t an issue because there would be so many different points of view from so many different areas that I think it would be unreasonable to take my point at this time,” he said.
While Grant continues to push for such a change, Ministry of Environment wildlife biologist John Elliott said that permits are available for the purpose of problem wildlife reduction. Typically, such permits are granted for hunting in December and January with the seasons lasting up to eight weeks.
Grant said he’s aware of the program but said that because of the principles that drive the Wildlife Act, the system is not effective.
“It kind of continues to protect that sacred image but at the same time we’re continuously building a bigger and bigger herd of what I call resident wildlife which have basically abandoned their wildlife status and there’s no laws out there to deal with them.”