Evidence of meeting #52 for Environment and Sustainable Development in the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was alberta.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Gordon Zealand  Executive Director, Yukon Fish and Game Association
Wayne Lowry  President, Alberta Fish and Game Association
Darrell Crabbe  Executive Director, Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation

9:20 a.m.

President, Alberta Fish and Game Association

Wayne Lowry

Many people eat the meat. In fact, I know many people who prefer bear meat. A lot of that meat is consumed.

9:20 a.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Northwest Territories, NT

Do you have any numbers on that? What percentage of that activity is for consumption purposes and what percentage is for sport purposes?

9:20 a.m.

President, Alberta Fish and Game Association

Wayne Lowry

I don't have exact data on that. However, the majority of the hunting in areas where baiting is allowed is from the outfitters, so that would be from non-residents coming into Alberta to hunt black bears. Alberta is a very popular destination for that. The outfitters would have better data with regard to how much of that meat is consumed, but the majority of it is.

9:20 a.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Northwest Territories, NT

In Alberta, how do you consider the importance of woodland caribou in your wildlife management work?

9:20 a.m.

President, Alberta Fish and Game Association

Wayne Lowry

The woodland caribou is vitally important. We've been supporting and endorsing all conservation activities for woodland caribou and advocating on the preservation of the habitat for the woodland caribou. They need large tracts of undisturbed land to survive and thrive, and with the oil and gas activity encroaching into their habitat areas, we provide a strong opposition to those types of activities.

However, the herds continue to decline, which is very unfortunate. We anticipate that if—

9:20 a.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Northwest Territories, NT

What would it take to turn your strong opposition to effective opposition? I'm just curious.

9:20 a.m.

President, Alberta Fish and Game Association

Wayne Lowry

Unfortunately the areas that these caribou inhabit are crown lands. They're all in public lands so we're unable to go in and acquire the land by purchase in order to inhibit some of these activities. I think it would take somewhat of a miracle to establish a framework that would be primarily structured around the preservation of the woodland caribou.

9:20 a.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Northwest Territories, NT

In the environmental assessment process in Alberta, do you regularly intervene on oil and gas developments there? How's that been?

9:20 a.m.

President, Alberta Fish and Game Association

Wayne Lowry

There was a lease auction that came up this spring. It was for 25,000 square miles of area that was up for lease for oil and gas development. It came up at the last minute so it required some quick action as far as that goes. With a few other conservation-minded organizations we banded together to get that lease option cancelled. We were successful in that.

9:20 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Harold Albrecht

Thank you, Mr. Lowry and Mr. Bevington.

Mr. Toet, please.

April 28th, 2015 / 9:20 a.m.

Conservative

Lawrence Toet Conservative Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you to our witnesses. It's been very helpful.

Mr. Crabbe, I wanted to touch quickly with you on.... You talked about the pervasive influence on the lives of people involved in the hunting and trapping. I wondered if you could give us a bit of a sense of the influence that has on your own outfit, but also your fellow hunters and trappers, how this affects them and how it affects their outlook on things.

9:25 a.m.

Executive Director, Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation

Darrell Crabbe

I remember my father once being asked that same question, or why he hunted. His answer to the person was that it's no different than me trying to tell you what benefits religion would have in my life.

It's difficult to put into words. I couldn't say everything even though I worked for the wildlife federation as a volunteer and as an executive director for over two decades. I think with anybody that does hunt, fish, and trap it becomes so ingrained in your life that you find with all your friends, your relatives, and everybody it's the common denominator that we all seem to rally around.

When I say it's pervasive, my non-work hours are usually spent either with family and friends pursuing those types of activities or other outdoor activities. You start to find that your circle of friends are similar types of people to you. You spend your time either volunteering to do fisheries and wildlife work and if not you're fundraising or enjoying it. As I said, it becomes who you are and what you are. I don't know how to explain it any other way. It becomes ingrained.

9:25 a.m.

Conservative

Lawrence Toet Conservative Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Thank you.

You talked a little about the long-gun registry. When you talked about it you talked about the loss of income for conservation. That's obviously one aspect of it and that obviously would have an impact on it. I was wondering, what about the loss of people involved in the activities? When you talk about the number of people who didn't register and weren't going out and hunting, what kind of impact did that have on the human resource? Did it have an impact in Saskatchewan that you would see in the conservation area as far as being able to conserve areas, being actively involved in habitat restoration, and things like that? Was there an impact on that?

9:25 a.m.

Executive Director, Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation

Darrell Crabbe

Absolutely. There was a recognized decrease in licence sales shortly after Bill C-68 came into effect. We did surveys to determine if that was in fact what the issue was, especially in the older demographic that found the intrusion or requirements of the registry made the decision for them on whether they wanted to continue to hunt. Unfortunately we saw those immediate decreases in licence sales and also a noticeable decrease in those types of individuals. We saw that our fundraising efforts were starting to decrease at about the same rate. We made the assumption that once they got out of hunting they decided that their moneys were better spent somewhere else or they may have taken up another activity. We're not quite sure what that might have been—hopefully not golf.

9:25 a.m.

Conservative

Lawrence Toet Conservative Elmwood—Transcona, MB

There's a real physical impact, then, on conservation of habitat when things like that occur. It goes to underline that hunters and trappers are very actively involved, not only on a financial basis but also on a very personal basis, with conservation and habitat conservation.

9:25 a.m.

Executive Director, Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation

Darrell Crabbe

Absolutely. We find that the exact same thing occurs with wildlife diseases. When a disease becomes prevalent in a certain area, our hunting activities drop off significantly.

9:25 a.m.

Conservative

Lawrence Toet Conservative Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Zealand and Mr. Lowry, would you have seen the same things happen in Alberta and the Yukon during that period of time?

9:25 a.m.

Executive Director, Yukon Fish and Game Association

Gordon Zealand

From the Yukon perspective, absolutely, and I believe it's still continuing. In fact, two weeks ago I was asked if we would like to take possession of four different families' long guns, because they had reduced opportunity with the passing of their grandparents. We were asked if we'd like their firearms for the use of our kids' camps or what have you.

I'm seeing spinoffs that I quite frankly didn't expect to see with the change in the registry. Obviously, it is still continuing.

9:30 a.m.

Conservative

Lawrence Toet Conservative Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Interesting.

Mr. Lowry, did you want to add to that?

9:30 a.m.

President, Alberta Fish and Game Association

Wayne Lowry

Yes. The one additional comment I'd like to make is with regard to the increased activities among women and youth, not only in hunting but in the shooting sports. Many of our clubs throughout the province that have shooting ranges are finding a really high uptake of these demographics using those facilities. Since the abolition of the gun registry, there's been a significant increase in membership, particularly in those clubs that do have gun ranges where they can go out and enjoy that activity.

9:30 a.m.

Conservative

Lawrence Toet Conservative Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Crabbe, you spoke a little bit about the benefits that the hunting and trapping community brings to the whole population. I was wondering if you could articulate on that a little bit and give us an example of a benefit brought forward by this community that the whole population of Saskatchewan would be seeing based on the activities and the work of this particular segment.

9:30 a.m.

Executive Director, Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation

Darrell Crabbe

Certainly. When we did the 2006 economic impact study of hunting, angling, and trapping in Saskatchewan, one of the major areas we wanted to try to determine was with regard to our two major cities in Saskatchewan, Regina and Saskatoon, where more than 50% of our population lives. We wanted to see if any of the moneys being generated were being generated primarily within those two large centres or moving out into the rural areas.

We found that the vast majority of those dollars were being moved from those two major centres to rural Saskatchewan, primarily because, of course, that's where the activity took place. Every aspect of that process moved dollars directly into rural Saskatchewan. I think the only difference was that large-ticket items were primarily purchased in major centres; all the activity generated was primarily outside.

9:30 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Harold Albrecht

Thank you, Mr. Toet.

We'll move now to Mr. McKay, please.

9:30 a.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Lowry, Alberta has a climate change fund from the large emitters. They have a series of interesting programs for mitigation, adaptation, and so on. I see that your organization is into a program of land conservation, etc.

Is the fund permitted to compensate your organization for the work you do? You essentially are involved in not only preservation of species but also carbon sequestration, etc. Are you able to interact with that fund?

9:30 a.m.

President, Alberta Fish and Game Association

Wayne Lowry

Yes, we are. The way we're able to access some of that is more with regard to the penalties claimed through the courts. If those emissions have been excessive, or if there have been spills and penalties have been assessed, those funds go back directly into habitat enhancement projects. We are then able to apply to those, through the granting process, to receive those funds, which are not necessarily specific to that area but benefit the province as a whole.