Good morning, Mr. Chair. Good morning, everyone. My thanks to the committee for listening to what we have to say today.
My presentation will be about the federation and its affiliates.
The Fédération québécoise des chasseurs et pêcheurs is a not-for-profit organization that was founded in 1946. Its mission is to contribute to the management, development and sustainability of hunting and fishing as traditional, heritage and sporting activities, with due regard for wildlife and habitat.
The federation's objectives are: to represent the interests of hunters and sport anglers; to defend, protect, promote and ensure the sustainability of hunting and fishing activities; to promote responsible behaviour by hunters and anglers; to cooperate with public authorities in establishing wildlife habitat conservation and management programs; to cooperate with public authorities in establishing wildlife management plans that will assist the government to meet its ecological, social and economic objectives.
Today, the federation brings together more than 200 associations representing more than 125,000 members in every region of Quebec. In achieving its objectives, the federation can count on the support of its two affiliated organizations, Héritage faune and Sécurité nature.
Héritage faune is the federation's official foundation, started in 1980. Its mission is to provide various sources of funding in order to make possible wildlife, land and water management projects, establish programs for the next generation, and provide scholarships to graduate students for wildlife study. The foundation is also engaged in many projects with wilderness and environmental organizations in Quebec.
Sécurité nature was established in 1995. It is the federation's educational arm. It provides courses as part of the Programme d'éducation en sécurité et en conservation de la faune and coordinates the 450 volunteer instructors who give the courses all over Quebec. It also develops education programs in nature interpretation, in protecting and understanding the value of wildlife and its habitats, including the safety of those participating in outdoor activities. It also produces educational material on the appreciation, conservation and understanding of wildlife and its habitats, and on outdoor activities.
According to Sécurité nature's statistics, the introduction to hunting with a firearm course is increasingly in demand in Quebec. In 1999, there were 10,750 participants. In 2006, there were 14,000 participants. In 2014, there were 20,000 participants.
In Quebec, the right to hunt is recognized in the Act respecting the conservation and development of wildlife. Two of its provisions are as follows:
1.3. Every person has a right to hunt, fish and trap in accordance with the law.
1.4. No person may knowingly hinder a person who is lawfully carrying on an activity referred to in the first paragraph of section 1.3, including an activity preparatory to such an activity.
In terms of community involvement in wildlife management in Quebec, the legislation provides for the participation of the hunting and fishing community in wildlife management. It determines the composition and the advisory role of consultation bodies such as the Table nationale de la faune, and similar regional bodies and technical wildlife bodies. Those organizations work together to develop management plans for the game that hunters are seeking.
In Quebec, hunting is considered as a factor in economic development. A number of regions view hunting as one of their major economic engines. It is also significant in major centres. Hunting and fishing opportunities on public lands are made available in various kinds of designated areas: the controlled harvesting zones, or zecs, which have volunteer boards of directors, private hunting areas, or pourvoiries, wildlife reserves operated by a crown corporation called Sépaq, and free areas of crown land.
Private lands that are part of municipalities support almost 70% of hunting in Quebec. According to the surveys that the federation has conducted, half a million Quebeckers are regular hunters and 700,000 hunt at least once every five years.
A total of 535,000 hunting licences were sold in 2014, including 173,000 for small game, 144,000 for white-tailed deer, 175,000 for moose, 14,000 for black bear and 11,300 for wild turkey. According to a recent study conducted for the Government of Quebec, each hunter spends an average of $1,832 on 15.2 days of hunting, for a total of 4.3 million days of hunting in the province. Hunting represents an overall economic impact of $540 million. The species that is most economically significant is the moose, on which $205 million are spent, followed by small game, which generates $138 million.
Those involved with wildlife face a major challenge because we can see that 68% of hunters are 45 or older. A great deal of recruitment activities need therefore to be organized all over the province. Hunting has social benefits. In addition to its major direct economic impact, because of vehicle sales, packages, outfitting, accommodation and fuel, hunting is important in protecting the environment, controlling damage, and protecting human health. It is recognized scientifically as one of the best tools in controlling animal populations.
The greater snow goose population is at 800,000 and it is causing damage to farms. Resident Canada geese are increasing in numbers and increasingly taking over city parks and golf courses. The continental white-tailed deer population is at 250,000 as a minimum and it is continuing to migrate north. Some areas in southern Quebec are overpopulated and there are many problems of damage, including to farms. There are also many road accidents there, with 6,000 collisions annually involving deer.
Since 2008, the federation has conducted a number of promotion campaigns in order to boost hunting, including among young people, making the activity “cool”. That is how Quebeckers see it. We have made short videos, conducted advertising campaigns about the image of hunting, and campaigns on Zoom Media.
We are now in the modern era of hunting and fishing. We have developed a number of tools using new technology in order to help hunters and anglers conduct their activities. We have created Zone Chasse, whyhunt.com, Mentorat chasse, pêche et piégage as well as allonspecher.com, a map providing access to fishing areas.
In closing, the changes that Quebec's natural environment has undergone mean that many animal populations, like white-tailed deer, coyote and wild turkey are finding it an exceptional place to live. The development and management of the forests in less urban areas have allowed some others to expand, such as moose and black bear.
Quebec therefore has abundant game on which a major economic activity is built. As a result, many organizations are active, working with Quebec's Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs. The wildlife needs to be controlled if we are going to avoid major costs to society. Because of their activities, hunters actually protect farmers' crops and reduce the compensation that has to be paid to them.
They also reduce the problems caused by automobile collisions and damage to gardens. For all those reasons, hunting and trapping are legitimate activities that benefit society as a whole on a number of levels.