Question re: Sheep hunting regulations - November 25, 2015

Mr. Silver: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Department of Environment is proposing new restrictions on resident hunters’ ability to hunt Dall sheep in certain areas near Whitehorse. This was the subject of a lively public meeting a couple of weeks ago in Whitehorse.

Can the minister explain why these restrictions are being placed on Yukon hunters?

Hon. Mr. Istchenko: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I do want to thank the member opposite for the question. We go through regulatory change proposals on a regular basis. Sometimes it’s hunting regulations, fishing regulations or trapping regulations. When it comes to issues related to any of those three, they go through a rigorous consultation process, which is something that comes out of chapter 16 of the Umbrella Final Agreement. There was a good meeting — I wasn’t at the meeting — and the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board does a great job — one of our partners — and we look forward to using many of our tools to work with the board and Yukoners on this issue.

Mr. Silver: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. A question from the floor at that public meeting confirmed that the only reason, in the opinion of the folks at this meeting, for the restrictions being imposed on local hunters was because of the reintroduction of an outfitting concession in that same area. There is too much pressure on the sheep population and Yukon hunters are going to pay the price if this government’s solution goes ahead.

Can the minister or the government explain why they are taking hunting opportunities away from resident Yukoners?

Hon. Mr. Istchenko: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I do thank the member opposite again for the question. The proposed regulation change aims to manage the harvest of sheep in a popular and accessible hunting area in the southern Yukon. The Department of Environment has worked with the outfitter to establish quotas for moose and sheep for most of the outfitter’s area, and a combination of resident sheep permits and established outfitter quotas for this area will help manage the sustainable sheep populations. I look forward to what comes from the dialogue from the meetings that the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board has done and look forward to seeing what their recommendations are as we move forward.

Mr. Silver: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The dialogue is that it was the government’s decision to reintroduce outfitting in the area, and now resident hunters are seeing their hunting opportunities reduced because of it. There is another solution that the government could pursue. It could restrict the number of permits given to the recently reintroduced outfitting concession.

Is the government open to this possibility?

Hon. Mr. Istchenko: These are proposed recommendations, and I am not going to predetermine the outcome of the proposed recommendations. They go through a rigorous set of consultations. I have spoken to this in the House before, and I sure do look forward to having input from all stakeholders in the Yukon on this issue and many other related issues. We have seen great success when it comes to how this system works with the regulatory change proposal process, and I look forward to this being among the other ones that are up there and seeing what comes out of it.