By Sean Brady – Kamloops This Week
The B.C. Wildlife Federation is holding its four-day annual general meeting in Kamloops this week, with the event featuring a number of notables and putting wildlife issues up for discussion.
Members and delegates from the group’s 100 affiliated clubs, including host club Kamloops and District Fish and Game Association, began gathering on Wednesday, April 11, to discuss and vote on matters pertaining to hunting, fishing and conservation.
This year’s attendees include politicians such as B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson, Minister of Forests Doug Donaldson and B.C. Green Leader Andrew Weaver, who will engage delegates on a number of wildlife and environment issues.
Claudia Ferris, public-relations manager with the B.C. Wildlife Federation, said Weaver will directly address delegates on the topic of the grizzly bear hunting ban.
“That should be interesting because there’s quite a bit of controversy – a lot of our members are quite upset about the ban,” Ferris said.
Aside from politicians, there are also a number of experts and researchers on hand, including keynote speaker David Schindler, who founded the internationally renowned Experimental Lakes Area in northwestern Ontario.
Also attending will be Eric Taylor, chair of the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) – an advisory body to government.
Taylor will be a part of the fisheries panel, along with Dana Atagi, vice-president of the Freshwater Fisheries Society of B.C., and Al Martin, BCWF director of strategic initiatives.
In recent months, the B.C. Wildlife Federation has been in contact with the federal government, advocating for fisheries changes to protect the Interior Fraser River steelhead, which saw the lowest returns on records last year. COSEWIC has recommended an emergency listing order under the federal Species at Risk Act, arguing the fish is in imminent danger of extinction. Only 177 fish returned from the sea to the Thompson River last fall, while a mere 58 returned to the Chilcotin River. Those are record-low numbers since records began being compiled in 1978.
The effects of last year’s devastating wildfire season are also on the schedule, with B.C. Wildfire Service executive director Madeline Maley sitting on the wildfire panel, along with Mark Hebblewhite, a University of Montana researcher studying the long-term effects of wildfire on elk populations, and Rob Serrouya, a University of Alberta researcher studying recovery options for caribou and other species.
Delegates first met on Wednesday before plenary meetings began on Thursday. Events wrap up on Saturday with the organization’s annual gala and awards dinner.
The AGM is being held at the Coast Kamloops Hotel and Convention Centre in Aberdeen.