Letter to the Editor

Pend D’Oreille closure needs more thought

"This area has had a huge influx of hunters from all areas of the province."

After reading the Trail Times news regarding the proposed road closures within the Pend D’Oreille (PDO) valley (“Ministry pitches plan to limit motorized entry to Pend D’Oreille,” Trail Times Oct. 23) I learned through social media of a public meeting hosted by the Ministry of Environment (MOE), Conservation Branch to present their proposal on Monday.

Upon arrival I learned the meeting was invitation only but as more people arrived they reluctantly left it open.

What is being proposed is an “Access Management Area” (AMA) within the valley supported, if not spearheaded, by the Trail Wildlife Association. It’s unclear at this point whether the TWA executive did this without the membership’s knowledge or if the membership actually knew and voted to approve this. TWA members I talked to knew nothing about this.

An AMA is an area of land that has its access regulated. The area is generally closed to motorized vehicles (walking and horses still allowed) with specific roads left open.  PDO area is a heavily used for recreational ATV riding & hunting and controls are needed but not necessarily an AMA.

An increase of recreational users as more people purchase ATVs is a problem but the bigger problem started about five years ago when the hunting seasons were changed.

Originally it was mule deer bucks, whitetail bucks, and Limited Entry Hunting for bull elk, around 12 elk per year by lottery.

The MOE Wildlife Management branch, (against local public opinion) opened a general open bull elk season, spike fork bull moose season, and whitetail doe season – two does per hunter.

This area has had a huge influx of hunters from all areas of the province. Ask the hunters you meet where they are from. Large camps of up to 10 and 12 rigs with sometimes two or three people per rig, all with ATVs. Elk taken went from eight or 10 a year to 40 – 50 minimum.

Deer populations suffered the same fate, especially the whitetail does. Five years later no wonder there is a lack of ungulates. These people come here through the summer season to camp and scout the area for hunting purposes so traffic is increased again.

The MOE Wildlife Management Branch created this problem and the Conservation Branch proposes an AMA to repair it.

It was suggested the hunting seasons be returned to what they were along with some additional closures, but when the conservation people were asked about this, their response is they are responsible for wildlife and habitat management, not hunting regulations.

Amazingly two groups, both within the MOE, can’t walk down the hall and talk to each other about the problem and make a joint effort to fix it.

What does an AMA give us? It restricts access and affect many groups. Prospectors/placer miners can’t get to their claims without permits. People with physical disabilities, seniors, and people incapable of walking long distances, that require a motorized vehicle to access their favourite hunting or viewing spot.

Recreational ATV riders that want to take their families out for the day, nowhere else to go locally. Displaced users will move creating the same problem elsewhere.

Coincidentally logging companies that destroy huge areas of habitat and power companies such as BC Hydro are exempt from these rules.

Who gains?

Well, the animals will. Also any hunters with horses and probably guide outfitters if they move in as they will all have their own private hunting grounds.

Not everyone has the knowledge, ability, or property to own a horse. This proposal will be posted on the internet at a later date by the Ministry for feedback, if even read. Apparently this is due to be in force in 2016.

Bob Wishneski

Trail

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