Backlash over Fort St. John hunting contest

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Erica Fisher

Erica is a reporter for Moose FM and in Fort St. John, B.C. She grew up in Victoria, B.C. and received her Bachelor's Degree in Journalism from Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec.

One of the sponsors of the competition explains that it came in part at request of the Peace Region agricultural community who were having livestock killed and rural residents losing pets. Wildlife like caribou, moose, elk and deer also have numbers on the decline due to the predators.

"It's just something we're doing as a local fraternity or a local group to help out all those communities and also do our part to hopefully bring back a little bit of balance in what is a managed wildlife regime."

Recently, the province has come up with a wolf strategy to try and reduce some of their numbers, and has considered lifting bag limits in certain areas. There is currently a three bag limit in our region, and the contest includes a limit of three per participant. MLA Pat Pimm addressed the problems of predators as one of the problems he'd like to work on if elected for another term.

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"Predator control right now is a huge issue for our area farmers," he said in a previous interview, "Cattlemen right now are losing anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000 a year because of predators. I was astonished when I found out that one wolf will actually take down 10 animals a year."

One of the most vocal opposition to the contest has been John Marriott, a wildlife photographer, who wrote an open letter to another sponsor.

"Killing any animal for the sake of killing is simply not acceptable in today's day and age and you should be ashamed of yourself," he writes. "Hunting is a time-honoured tradition that is about putting food on your table and getting out on the land, it is not a contest for killing the biggest this or that or for nurturing a hatred of one species."

His blog post on the matter called for a tourism boycott of the Alaska Highway until the contest is cancelled. However, there seems to be no legal basis for not running the contest, as the Sun quotes Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resources Operations, as saying it does not break any provincial wildlife regulations, and in an article today, provincial gaming officials say it does not need a permit as it is skill-based.

According to a contest sponsor, the competition can bring out as many as 60 participants, which could mean up to 180 wolves brought in, but the most they have ever received in a year is 13, due to the difficulty of hunting the elusive animals.

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