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 with Rob Miskosky

Bad Ideas that Won't Go Away

Way back in 2002, game farmers lobbied the Alberta government to allow hunting on what they called cervid harvest preserves, a pretty name for high-fenced hunting, hunt farms, canned hunting, or as some would say, shooting fish in a barrel. However, opponents of hunt farms ruled the day, had government’s ear, and an end was put to the bad idea of hunting deer and elk behind high fences. At that time, farmed deer and elk fell under the authority of the Wildlife Act and Alberta Sustainable Resource Development.

Once again, cervid harvesting preserves are being discussed in Alberta.

However, a bad idea will often hang around if it benefits a group of people; misguided notions are hard to stamp out.

So, in 2011, the Livestock Diversity Amendment Act, Bill 11, reared its ugly head. An Act that transferred full legislative authority for diversified livestock, including elk and deer, from the Wildlife Act to Agriculture and Rural Development’s Livestock Industry Diversification Act (LIDA). The Bill reclassified domestic cervids as “diversified livestock”. Thus, game farmers were now out from under the heavy hand of the Wildlife Act and Sustainable Resource Development, and in the lap of an agriculture department that had their best interests at heart. Once again, hunt farms were on the table.

“Recreational opportunities to harvest trophy elk bulls will become a significant product stream for all elk farmers. Mature bulls realize their optimum revenue potential within this market,” said the Alberta Elk Commission at that time.

I also wrote at that time, “A market that when given full disclosure to the public, is clearly, as Ralph Klein stated back in 2002, “abhorrent.”

And again, negative public opinion and opponents of hunt farms put an end to the hunt farm notion.

Fast forward to 2021 and once again, bad ideas never die.

According to the Alberta Elk Commission, “The Board of Directors of the Alberta Elk Commission has established a sub committee to pursue the possibility of legalizing Cervid Harvesting Preserves (CHPs) in Alberta. Allowing for the legalization of CHPs will enable our industries to retain revenues that are currently exported to neighbouring Provinces and States, create long term sustainability for existing producers, enable transition to future generations and attract new investment to our industry and Province.”

Hunting has come under great scrutiny in recent years, especially where so-called trophy hunting is concerned. And the hunting community has had to defend itself on many fronts, especially on social media.

In Alberta, hunting is generally an accepted practice; most folks aren’t that far removed from having a father or grandfather that hunted, or know somebody that does hunt or hunted. But fenced hunting preserves can quickly change that attitude, as seen almost everywhere the practice is allowed. Hunting doesn’t need another level of scrutiny placed upon it; it has enough on its plate already.

For previous Outdoor Pursuits click here.

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