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 with Rob Miskosky

Red Tape Rage

When the Alberta UCP government introduced The Red Tape Reduction Statutes Amendment Act, Bill 21, the purpose was to, well, reduce red tape rules that needlessly hamper Albertans. Makes sense, right? We all want to see the reduction of government red tape. Well, hold on a minute. If you’re the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society or the Alberta Wilderness Association, red tape reduction isn’t necessarily a good thing.

The Bill allows for amendments to the Provincial Parks and Public Lands Act, allowing the province to develop site-specific rules for recreational activities on Crown land, something that doesn’t sit well with the aforementioned groups who believe that Bill 21 could lead to land-use management practices that favour one type of use or activity to the detriment of others.”

And now, a new Provincial Parks General Directive that allows for the baiting of black bears and the use of off-leash hounds to hunt cougars in protected areas where hunting is already permitted for those species has drawn the ire of both groups.

“While the government has emphasized that the new directives cannot be used to change the existing intent of a park designation, Bill 21 nevertheless allows for exemptions to be made where certain activities – such as hunting, trail use, or off-highway vehicle access – are currently only conditionally allowed,”
said CPAWS in a news release.

And then the AWA chimed in, “AWA supports hunting as compatible with the intent of Wildland Provincial Parks and certain other protected areas when done sustainably and in accordance with responsible hunting practices. However, this should not include bear baiting and the use of off-leash hunting dogs to range long distances from their owner to tree a cougar.”

- photo Ken Colwill
And then, “Bear baiting is unsafe for people and bears because it can contribute to habituation of bears to humans and human food. The public and tourists are warned not to feed bears and to lock up attractants, and can be fined for not doing so. Allowing hunters to bait black bears contradicts these safety measures. Bear baiting is also contrary to the concept of fair chase, making it unethical.

“Off-leash hunting dogs can pose a threat to wildlife and species-at-risk. Even well-trained hunting dogs may go after an animal that is not supposed to be hunted, or is at risk of extinction. Protected areas should be a refuge where these animals are safe, and this added threat of hunting dogs should not be introduced.”

It is often said that hunters and groups such as CPAWS and AWA have much in common, and perhaps we do. But not with everything hunting related, as clearly seen here.

According to Boone and Crockett, “Where an increased harvest of a particular species needs to occur, or where positive identification of size or sex is a legal requirement, baiting is “appropriate given the circumstances” and does not violate Fair Chase principles.”

So much for AWA’s statement that Bear baiting is also contrary to the concept of fair chase, making it unethical.”

While I don’t have much experience hunting with dogs, the few times I have hunted with dogs I never once saw the dog chase anything outside of what it was supposed to retrieve.

Having never hunted cougars, I can’t speak to cougar hounds but those I have spoken to that have suggest the same thing I have witnessed.

I’m unsure as to why this new Provincial Parks General Directive is causing strife amongst these groups, and see no harm coming from this directive. Tell me I’m wrong.

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