The Ministry of Environment (MOE) is putting together a plan to allow hunting in the Squamish Estuary on a trial basis in 2008 or 2009 with the goal of unveiling a regular season in the near future.
According to a recently letter from MOE to the District of Squamish, the idea was first discussed during a recent dedication ceremony that saw the Estuary designated as a Wildlife Management Area (WMA).
“Along with the Squamish Estuary Management Committee, member groups and agencies, we have long anticipated resolution of these important wildlife management safety issues,” reads the letter, which is dated June 30 and signed by Jennifer McGuire, the Lower Mainland’s regional manager of environmental stewardship.
Catherine Jackson, president of the Squamish Environmental Conservation Society (SECS), supports the decision, mainly because it’s a product of consensus at the estuary management committee level.
“Hunting has some historical context that shouldn’t be forgotten,” she said. “It’s a result of everyone working together that we have this amazing space conserved for the future. Having said that, there are some concerns regarding public safety. That would be top of my list because (the estuary) is used a lot by the public. The actual area would have to be very defined as to where it would take place, and I believe they’ve considered that aspect.”
MOE makes several mentions of public safety in the June 30 letter. The forthcoming plan will address RCMP and District of Squamish concerns, with measures proposed including things like mandatory briefing and training for permit holders, updating signage, government monitoring and effective media communications.
While it’s not clear how many species might be a target of the plan, Canada Geese are mentioned in the MOE letter. Measuring the trial’s success will partly involve the assessment of “distribution and behaviour of nuisance Canada Geese around Squamish as a result of hunting activities and harvests.”
Further, the district’s discharge of firearms bylaw will have to be modified to permit hunting within the proposed boundaries. MOE has offered to help the district refine its legislation accordingly.
MOE hopes the trial will produce successful results allowing for a new hunting season to open up in the estuary before September 2009.
“In addition,” wrote McGuire, “it will allow both Environment Canada’s Canadian Wildlife Services and ourselves to once again effectively manage wildlife populations (especially the increasing resident population of nuisance Canada Geese) in the WMA for the benefit of Squamish communities and their many turfed public recreation facilities.”